Dendrologist Daniel Miles, of Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory, has started work on the samples he collected from the OneOak tree when it was felled in January. Work in studying the tree rings to estimate the tree’s age and to look at its growth history is not yet complete. However, Daniel has revealed some stunning news:
- All slices have now dried out with this spell of warm weather, and radial sections have now been cut, and the surfaces have been planed and sanded to a very high standard of smoothness, essential to ensure every ring can be clearly seen and measured under the microscope. Even so, there is a band of rings in the first large branch, 33 feet above the ground, which was found to be rotten. This branch has had a very serious injury to it sometime in the past and had virtually died, with a band of exceptionally narrow rings which will be almost impossible to measure, let alone count. This is the branch that they had hoped to use as a brace at the Wallingford Museum but was found to have a rot pocket when cut; this is directly related to this band of very narrow rings.
- Another interesting fact is that the preliminary ring count of the base of the tree, at one foot above the ground, is about 225 years, so the tree seems to have started growing shortly before 1785.
So, the tree experienced some form of major damaging event in its past, and it is about 65 years older than we thought. The exact details have yet to confirmed but a planting date of 1785 or before would place its planting during the major landscape design phase of the Blenheim Estate undertaken by ‘Capability’ Brown.