The Ancient Oak of Langwood Fen
A fen is one of the main types of wetland the others being marshes, forested swamps and peaty bogs. Fens are fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater.They are characterized by their water chemistry, which has a neutral ph and alkaline levels with relatively high dissolved mineral content with a few other plant nutrients. Fens are usually dominated by grasses and sedges, and typically have brown mosses growing. Fens frequently have a high diversity of other plant species. They may also occur along large lakes and rivers where seasonal changes in water level maintain wet soils with few woody plants. The distribution of individual species of fen plants is often closely connected to water regimes and nutrient concentrations
Langwood Farm, Chatteris, UK
Approximately 7000 years ago a rise in sea level caused the rivers to back up and flood the East Angila Fen basin. This basin was densely forested with gigantic Oak trees. to All of the trees dies standing, then felled naturally to the forest floor, deep into the silt, preserved with the complete absence of air. Due to the cultivation of this fertile land, these sub fossilized trees are making their way to the surface.
The trees when first excavated were at absolute fibre saturation. The location below sea level gives an indication as to how much the fossilized tree has changed in it’s structure. Excavated trees in truly exceptional condition can be air dried under very controlled conditions. The challenge of drying the wood is to extract huge amounts of water while maintaining shrinkage to have a flat straight and split free board.