Celebrating Northumberland’s Trees

When it comes to celebrating Northumberland’s trees, we have one of the least charted areas in the UK. However, Northumberland has one of the most diverse and undisputedly resilient range of species to be found in the country. Indeed, it has only recently been discovered that England boasts more oak trees between 400 and 600 years of age than the whole of Europe put together. The aim of the Veteran Tree Project is to identify, map and celebrate ancient, veteran, heritage and notable trees. They do this across the regions of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland. “By doing so we will help to conserve and protect these trees for generations to come and enable our children and indeed our children’s children to also enjoy the pleasure and benefits that they provide.” says project manager Nick Johnson.

A sculpture made of oak

WoodsmanTo create a legacy of the project based at Kirkley Hall College Ruth Thompson from Sylvan Skills was commissioned to design and build a sculpture of a woodsman planting a tree. Acknowledging the spirit of the project Ruth Thompson built the sculpture of oak splint wood on a metal frame. Details were then added using willow. “Trees planted today can be enjoyed and celebrated as veteran trees in the future. It was very rewarding to visualise the importance of planting trees with a sculpture. I thoroughly enjoyed weaving oak onto the metal frame and watching the sculpture transforming into a person.” Ruth Thompson emphasises.

Creating this sculpture involved the enormous help and support of  Tim Thompson of Kooky creations, who made the metal frame. 

Bringing back traditional skills

After installing the sculpture at Kirkley Hall College there will be a celebratory day on July 15. Here, local schoolchildren, volunteers and learners who took part in various aspects of the project are invited. The college strives to engage more people in The Veteran Tree Project and is increasing its effort to bring traditional woodland skills back to the attention of the public. Over the last two years Ruth Thompson has been sharing her willow weaving knowledge with over 200 people. During lockdown she taught lessons on Zoom after distributing handouts and weaving kits to people’s homes through their group leaders. She thus managed to not only reach people from the Hexham and Allendale area but also groups from Wylam, Ponteland, Ashington, the Meadow Well Connected Project in North Tyneside and the Comfrey Project in Newcastle.


Contact us at Sylvan Skills for more information.