Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Oak at the Gate of the Dead

Following the removal of the ancient Pontfadog Oak (see recent blog post), my attention has been drawn to another ancient tree in the Ceiriog Valley. This is another oak tree and said to be approximately 100 years old. The name comes from the fact that it must have witnessed the Battle of Crogen which took place in 1165 at a site nearby. The fallen soldiers were buried at a place called "Adwy'r Beddau" - the gap of the graves. This may refer to a gap in the valley, or a gap in Offa's Dyke - possibly corresponding to a gate, which might explain its English Name as "Gate of the Dead".
The Oak of the Gate of the Dead is easily found on the B4500, some 2 miles from Chirk as the road runs up the Ceiriog Valley.

The tree is clearly in a very poor way, though it is still alive. When I visited, the surrounding ground was very wet and a serious storm could finish it off unless attention is given to the drainage.

The tree is badly split. I will return in the summer, and assess its chances. 
According to Rob McBride's blog, the tree has been nominated for European Tree of the Year 2014 by the Woodland Trust (Coed Cadw). This is an award for trees that may not be the most beautiful, but are perhaps the most "lovable" with the most significance to their community.

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