UKTC Archive

RE: age of (grown-out) oak coppice stool

Subject: RE: age of (grown-out) oak coppice stool
From: Rupert Baker
Date: May 27 2020 18:20:29
Hi Jerry,
Historical terms for land use - synonymous- more of less - with Olly 
Rackhams' ancient and planned countryside. Several country is small fields, 
hacked higgeledly-piggeldy out of the woods/wild/waste/ "valuable natural 
habitat" over millenia;  usually random shapes; small - much hedge-grubbing 
has increased sizes since WW2; but the ones round the site were averaging 3-4 
acres in the 1880s; bigger than in S devon, where they were often only 1-2 
acres, and with big banks all around. This is very different to either the 
saxon open field systems, or land taken from commons and laid out under 
enclosure acts with straight roads, geometric field boundaries. - Read John 
Clares' poetry re the evils of enclosure - which didn’t happen much down 
here; most of the land was already farmed by families in separate holdings 
even in the middle ages. We are on the Celtic fringes......
Read Rackhams a History of the Countryside; or, if travelling in France 
(after Covid..) contrast the Bocage of Normandy with the Champagne Country...
Devon-Banked hedges can date back well over a millennium, or even 2; so 
coppice stools on an ancient parish boundary bank may be quite old. Trees on 
such hedges tended to arise naturally by slow colonisation - such banks were 
stock-proof of themselves, so didn’t need mass hedgeplanting with elm or 
thorn or blackthorn as when hedges are planted on the flat; but the timber 
from them was a valuable resource, and managed as such. The stool may well 
have been on the hedge to a wood rather than to a field
 Incidentally, the maiden trees on site, with similar dbhs as the larger 
stems on the stool, are around a century old, by ring counts on stumps from 
recent fellings; so I reckon for a coppice stool to get that wide you'd have 
to go quite a long way further back in time.
 Cf the small-leaved lime stool at westonibirt; though that is quite a bit 

-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Jerry Ross
Sent: 27 May 2020 17:28
To: UK Tree Care <>
Subject: Re: age of (grown-out) oak coppice stool

Hi Rupert.

At a guess, somewhere between 100 and 600 years.
Or possibly more. (Almost certainly not less)

But perhaps you can be more helpful than I'm being by explaining " 
'Several' (French Seurall), rather than 'Champion' (Fr Champagne)...." 
    ??  Not terms I've come across

On 27/05/2020 16:58, Rupert Baker wrote:
Hi all,

One for the collective mind - whilst doing a tree survey, I have just 
come across a very fine old multistemmed oak - 7 stems, 3 smaller - 
25-35cm; 4 bigger - 60-66cm; 25m tall. Its base, on an old hedgebank, 
covers 5m along the direction of the bank, and 2+m across it. Q. robur not 

I have been wondering how many times its been pollarded in the past - 
ie how old it is as an organism. It - and most of the oak around about 
- are 'sprouty' rather than clean-stemmed, so would coppice and 
pollard well; there is one old pollard on the site, but most of the 
trees are younger, either maidens or singled /double coppice stems in what 
was an old wood.

The hedgebank was on the edge of a small stream (now culverted) 
running down to a slightly larger one, according to old maps, with 
parcels of woodland, and scrub and coppice, all around. Its on heavy 
clay - good oak growing ground - and some of the woodland parcels look 
to be ASNW; it is in ancient countryside in Mid-Devon - 'Several' 
(French Seurall), rather than 'Champion' (Fr Champagne); on the 
boundary between two parishes - one with a village, the other 
enucleated; so it might well have been there for some time..

Any thoughts welcomed




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