South Scotland

Ancient 7,000-year-old oak to be turned into furniture

Bog oak
Image caption Despite its gnarled appearance, the wood was a dream find for cabinet maker Daniel Lacey

A giant oak tree that lay buried in a peat bog on the Solway Firth for more than 7,000 years is being given a new lease of life.

Craft workers are recycling the Stone Age timber into items of bespoke furniture and - much less obviously - into unique pieces of pottery.

Langholm-based cabinet maker Daniel Lacey acquired the tree last summer.

He said that - despite its gnarled appearance - the bog-oak was a dream discovery.

Image caption Mr Lacey said the oak was ideal for furniture making

"The first time I saw it, it was already out of the ground - it was a black log lying in a field," he said.

"Although it is the same species as a contemporary oak tree, it is changed in nature by it being preserved in the peat, so it becomes comparable to a very rare tropical timber.

"It has tannin in it and tannin reacts with iron in the groundwater. Over time this creates iron tannate, which is black - over the millennia that gradually permeates right through the log and turns it this wonderful, deep, black coal colour.

"I feel very privileged to have been given this opportunity and it is very special."

'Awe-inspiring age'

He said that after examining it for a few minutes, he realised it could work very well as furniture and also had more to offer.

"It is the history of it, you have the history of the wood from when the tree was alive," he said.

"Looking at the grain and the growth patterns in the wood you can imagine what happened during the lifetime of the tree.

"And then there is just the awe-inspiring age of it - 7,000 years old - it is just a beautiful and wonderful thing."

Image caption Mr Lacey has worked on the oak to produce a range of items

Meanwhile, potters Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore, based at Lupton in Cumbria, have also made use of the tree.

They have taken Daniel's waste sawdust to burn and make into glaze for their pottery which, like Mr Lacey's work, is part of the Spring Fling festival this weekend.

Ms Miles-Moore said the heavy iron content in the ancient timber gave the wood-ash unique and exciting properties.

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The oak has helped to produce a range of pottery as well as the furniture

"When you burn bog oak sawdust you get this amazing amber, ochre colour," she said.

"It is obviously iron from the millennia of being in a peat bog and iron is one of the most beautiful oxides that you use in ceramics.

"You can get a whole range of colours from greens and almost blues through to the browns, the ochres, the coppers - it is a brilliant, brilliant material to work with.

"Everything we do is kind of a massive experiment, so we have had a lot of fun over the last eight months."

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