Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Deramore Oak

The Woodland Trust has published a fascinating article about Belvoir Park at Newtownbreda, Belfast:-

The estate of Belvoir was created in the 1730s, though we know from records of 1625 that there were already trees in these townlands at the time. 

The oldest oak so far found in Northern Ireland is at Belvoir, and has been dated to 1642 using dendrochronology, a form of analysis carried out by counting the rings within the tree’s trunk which indicate seasonal growth patterns. 

Measurement of trees at Belvoir found 270 trees with a girth of three metres or greater, nearly half of which were oaks.

Belvoir also boasts a stump of around 8.5 metres [28 feet] girth, the remains of the Great Oak or Deramore Oak (a name meaning ‘big oak’), from which Lord Deramore, who owned Belvoir in the late 19th century, is thought to have taken his title. 

While this tree is sadly no more, its name has been transferred to another of the park’s mighty trees. 

Genetic analysis of the old oaks at Belvoir has shown them to be very like native oaks found in old woods such as Breen, in Co Antrim, suggesting that they are of native stock rather than introduced.

In the woodland and parkland at Belvoir you might catch a glimpse of red squirrels, and it is also a good site for fungi enthusiasts. 

The ancient oaks rub shoulders with more recent plantations, and there are also a 12th century Norman motte, a ruined graveyard dating back to at least the 15th century, and the remnants of the former estate buildings.

 First published in September, 2010.

No comments :