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Ancient tree is celebrated in art at Westonbirt Arboretum

3 March 2013

A sculpture celebrating one of Britain’s oldest trees – known as the historic 2000 Year Old Lime – will be created at the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt.

2000 Year Old Lime sculpture at Westonbirt Arboretum - sketch by artist Richard HarrisThe Forestry Commission has commissioned renowned artist and sculptor Richard Harris to create the installation. Work to create the sculpture will start on Monday 4 March and last around two weeks.

Harris will use material cut as part of the lime’s management process of coppicing; the practice of cutting a tree back to its stumps periodically to allow healthy stems to re-grow whilst keeping the original tree alive.

The sculpture will incorporate hundreds of stems cut from the 2000 Year Old Lime in November 2012, some over 10 metres in height, to create what looks like one large tree - reflecting the size many visitors assume the ancient tree to be.

This is the first time an artist has been commissioned to create a piece of art on this scale at Westonbirt Arboretum. The sculpture will remain at the site of the lime in Silk Wood whilst the stems re-grow over the coming years.

Artist Richard Harris commented:

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with the coppiced stems of this precious ancient tree.

“On coming across this small leafed lime for the first time I was struck by the sheer bulk of material on the ground following the coppicing process. I plan to work with this great physical mass to give a real sense of the age and scale of the tree.

“The sculpture will re-configure the cut wood into an equivalent vision of a tree of a similar age; giving visitors an element of what they expect from a 2000 year old tree.”

Ben Oliver, the Forestry Commission’s Learning and Interpretation Manager at Westonbirt commented:

“We are thrilled to be working with such an established artist on this project.

“The sculpture will provide a bold, visual link between the old, original tree and the new life that will spring forth as a result of the coppicing. It will help Westonbirt to tell the story of the 2000 Year Old Lime and celebrate the place coppicing has in the history of woodlands.”

It is the traditional woodland management skill of coppicing that has allowed the lime to live for so long.

Now coppiced every 20 years, the lime would have originally been managed by those who lived and worked in Silk Wood. Local people would have used coppicing to make a living; cutting lime, hazel and oak for everything from building materials to rope and tools.

More information can be found on, or visit Westonbirt Arboretum’s blog at for images and updates as the work progresses.

Find out more about Richard Harris at

Last updated: 10th July 2017


Westonbirt Arboretum

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England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.