Ancient tree branches used for sculpture at Westonbirt Arboretum

Lime clump, Westonbirt, Gloucestershire
Image caption The tree is thought to be the country's oldest stool of small-leaved lime

Hundreds of branches from a 2,000 year old tree that has been "cut back to stumps" are to be used in a 15m-tall (49ft) tree installation.

The ancient lime tree at Westonbirt Arboretum is coppiced every 20 years and was cut back last November.

Sculptor Richard Harris has been commissioned to create the sculpture.

Katrina Podlewska, from Westonbirt, said: "We're not being brutal in the name of art - periodic coppicing has helped the tree to live this long."

Historical records show that traditional coppicing methods have been used at Westonbirt in Gloucestershire since at least the 13th Century.

In the 1990s, when the clump of small-leafed lime was last cut back, DNA tests found that it originated from one tree dating back centuries.

'Looks drastic'

Ms Podlewska said: "It doesn't look like a 2,000 year-old tree.

"People expect to see a really big tree but it's a clump of trees that gets cut down every 20 years and, at the moment, it just looks like 60 stumps.

"It is drastic and it looks drastic but the sculpture will use all the cut stems to recreate that vision."

Hundreds of the long branches cut from the tree, thought to be one of Britain's oldest, will be used to make up the "one large tree" sculpture.

Image caption Cut back every 20 years the ancient tree currently looks like a clump of 60 stumps

Artist Richard Harris said he plans to work with the "great physical mass" of coppiced wood to give the "real sense of the age and scale of the tree".

He said: "The sculpture will re-configure the cut wood into an equivalent vision of a tree of a similar age, giving visitors an element of what they expect from a 2,000-year-old tree."

Work on the sculpture is due to begin on 4 March at the site of the lime in Silk Wood and is expected to take two weeks.

The sculpture is expected to last up to 10 years.

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