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NEWS RELEASE No: 1062121 MAY 2008


Points of Interest Popping Up Around Savernake Ancient Woodland


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Marlborough Parish Council and the Forestry Commission have joined forces to show off the wonderful heritage of Savernake Forest in Wiltshire. A novel pop-up map highlights the spectacular veteran trees of this ancient forest. Visitors can leisurely wend their way without fear of getting lost while learning more about the history of these ‘old men’ of the forest.

Joan Davis, Chairman of Savernake Parish Council says, “I hope that this will add to the enjoyment and appreciation of visitors to this very special ancient forest”.

Savernake Forest is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, giving it a star quality amongst woodlands. Most of the Forest has the status of being a Site of Special Scientific Interest, due to its internationally rare concentrations of ancient tees, making it an inspiring visit all around for everyone.

During the Eighteenth Century Savernake and Tottenham Park were laid out with avenues of beech, oak and sweet chestnut, but even as far back as Henry VII's time, Savernake was known for its aged trees. Ben Lennon, Planning and Environment Manager at the Forestry Commission said: “We think a number of the large oaks probably extend back to the medieval period, when Savernake was a royal forest. A handful of trees near old boundaries appear to be much older still and possibly date back to the Anglo-Saxon period, although dating them is very difficult.”

Visitors to the forest in recent times will see that clearance work has been under-taken to give ancient forest treasures more room to spread out, by removing competing younger trees. The added benefit of this is that visitors will now have the chance of being enchanted for centuries to come.

Another historic feature of Savernake is the tradition of grazing which is thought to go back to Saxon times. This has given rise to a tremendous diversity of flowers and lichens unique to this woodland. To protect them for the future, a project has been developed to involve a herd of twelve White Park Cattle grazing here. These animals, referred to in Irish sagas as long as 2000 years ago, are owned by a local woman, Patricia Holloway. These bovines of coloured points are well suited to open woodland, traditionally drifting over plains and keeping vegetation down as they graze. The 18 month old ‘aunties’ of the group teach the younger females of the group, aged about 6 months, where to find the best grazing. The Red Vein Bottom grazing project is a partnership between the Patricia, the Savernake Estate, Natural England and the Forestry Commission.

“It is hoped that grazing away vegetation will let light in and nature can take its course in restoring the traditional parkland areas back to their former glory.” Pat says:

The new, unique pop-up map of Savernake showing some points of interest and locations of named trees is now available from the Camp-site at Postern Hill by a donation and at the Tourist Information Centre in Marlborough Library for a worthwhile investment of 1.50.

Notes to editors
v The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands.
v Sites of Special Scientific Interest are a series of national designations that aim to protect representative samples of the most important biodiversity in the country.
v Savernake is the largest woodland SSSI in Wiltshire amounting to 904 hectares (2235 acres) 871 of which is managed by the Forest Commission.
v One of the main SSSI objectives to reach ‘favourable condition’ is to create more open space, particularly where there are concentrations of veteran trees. The trial has clearly demonstrated that the cattle are very effective in maintaining open space, in terms of grazing new shoots and trampling bracken..
v Savernake Forest is leased from the Savernake estate on 999 year lease
v Savernake is one of the most important areas for veteran trees in England.
v Britain holds over 80% of the veteran trees in northern Europe.
v Savernake is famous for its named oak trees including the Duke’s Vaunt, the King of Limbs, Big Bellied Oak and Cathedral Oak. Some of these may be old Saxon boundary trees dating back to before the Norman Conquest.

Contact for the Forestry Commission: Ben Lennon – District Planning and Conservation, or Dee Ashurst – Public Affairs Manager on Telephone number: 01594 833 057 or email: dean@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

    e-mail: dee.ashurst@forestry.gsi.gov.uk