The Springhead AshScape Project is organised by the Springhead Trust in collaboration with the Ancient Tree Forum and the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Project is a celebration of the ash tree, focusing on the North Dorset and West Wiltshire landscape. It aims to raise awareness of the remarkable roles ash trees have played in the development of European society since the Bronze Age, and the likely effects of an ash tree ‘Armageddon’ in which around 90% of the ash trees in Europe could perish as the result of a spreading fungal infection, Chalara, ash dieback disease.
The Springhead AshScape Project conference, which forms the kernel of the event, will mainly be staged at Springhead, Fontmell Magna, near Shaftesbury.
The Springhead Trust would like to thank the Valentine Trust, the Cranborne AONB and a number of private donors who prefer to remain anonymous for their generous support of the Project.
For further information about the event, including ticket reservations and payment for the conference days, please contact Springhead on:
01747 811853 or email [email protected]
Tuesday 10th October
- AshScapes – Exhibition of paintings, prints and photographs inspired by the ash tree, see Artists below – 10am-5pm – Free Entry
Wednesday 11th October
- Ancient Tree Forum Board Meeting – 9.30am-3.30pm
Thursday 12th October
- Field Trip to Lyscombe and Highdon to visit veteran ash trees set in a chalk downland SSSI in mid-Dorset. 10am-4pm Contact Ancient Tree Forum to book a place. www.ancienttreeforum.co.uk
Friday 13th October
- Lectures covering the mythology and utility of ash, the effect of ash dieback in hedgerows, a Scandinavian perspective on ash tree loss, the Kent AONB ash art and public awareness project and the collection of genetic material in order to find dieback resistant strains of European ash – 10.30am – 4pm
Only 45 tickets available at £30 including a buffet lunch
Saturday 14th October
- Lectures covering mythology with storyteller Alan Crawford, ash dieback resistance – a Netherlands perspective, plant and invertebrate species affected by ash dieback, and the medicinal importance of ash trees for more than 2000 years and their future role in the treatment of Parkinson’s, obesity etc. 10.30am – 4pm
Only 45 tickets available at £30 including a buffet lunch
Sunday 15th October
- Grand Musical Finale and Springhead Open Garden -11am – 5pm This event will include three performances of Heartwood sung by a mixed choir of adults and children drawn from the locality under the direction of the composer Karen Wimhurst. This choral work was originally commissioned for Dorset’s Inside Out Festival and is a work which, drawing from a number of different poetic texts, celebrates the Ash, our ‘tree of life’. The performances at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm will involve processing from Springhead across the fields to a large veteran ash tree. Professor Adrian Newton, Bournemouth University, will offer visitors the chance to don headphones and listen to the internal workings (the heartbeat) of a living veteran ash tree that will be ‘wired for sound’.
- Vikki Bengtsson – Co-vice chair of the Ancient Tree Forum and a freelance ecologist working for Pro Natura in Sweden will speak on the effects of ash dieback in Scandinavia
- Tim Rowland – Development Officer of the Future Trees Trust will talk about the Defra-funded Living Ash Project looking into breeding genetic resistant ash trees.
- Dr Sarah Henshall – The lead ecologist working for Buglife, the invertebrate conservation trust, and a specialist entomologist working with Defra, will talk about the effect of ash dieback on species dependent on ash.
- Paul Rutter – Plantlife Ancients officer and specialist on flora associated with ash
- Nick Johanssen – Director of Kent AONB and co-ordinator of their Arts Council-funded ash project will talk about the experience of both ash dieback and engaging with the public.
- Ackroyd & Harvey – Sculpture, photography, ecology and biology are disciplines that intersect in Ackroyd & Harvey’s time-based work, often reflecting scientific and environmental concerns and revealing an intrinsic bias towards process and event . They will be talking about their latest ash inspired art work in the AONB Kent.
- Edward Parker – Director of the Springhead Trust and former Project Manager of the Ancient Tree Hunt at Woodland Trust, author, photographer and campaigner on ancient trees – Ash Tree Uses and Myths from Bronze Age until Today.
- Henry Kuppen – CEO of European Tree Technician (Netherlands) will speak on ash varieties and their varying resistance to ash dieback based on his extensive work on the trees of Utrecht.
- David Lovelace – Landscape historian and digital mapping expert will look at overlaying historical and current maps and Landsat imagery using data from the first stage of the digital AshScape Photographic Survey.
- Edward Parker – Director of the Springhead Trust and former Project Manager of the Ancient Tree Hunt at Woodland Trust, author, photographer and campaigner on ancient trees – Ash Tree – A History of the Medicinal Importance of Ash Trees over the Last Two Thousand Years (treatment of snake bites, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, etc.)
- Alan Crawford – A forester, writer and story teller commissioned by the Forestry Commission to create mythological stories on a variety of different trees including ash.
- Rob Wolton – Author of the Devon Ash Dieback Development Plan, Chair of the Devon Ash Dieback Forum and Chair of the Devon Hedge Group.
- David Blake – Wildlife photographer and Project Development Officer for Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire AONB.
- Nick Babberton – Woodworker and Artist.
- Emma Buckmaster and Janet French – Collaborative work relating to trees. Print making on mixed media.
- Gary Cook – Watercolour artist and artist-in-residence at the Ecologist.
- Julian Hight – Tree campaigner, photographer and author of World Tree Story and Britain’s Tree Story.
- Archie Miles – Lecturer, photographer and author of a number of books on trees.
- Edward Parker – Author and photographer of more than 30 books on trees.
- Howard Phipps – Painter, printmaker and illustrator with a special interest in wood engraving.
- Marion Sidebottom – Specialist tree photographer, Arts Council-funded photographer-in-residence at Epping Forest.
- Liz Somerville – Painter and printmaker including coloured linocut and woodcut whose work concentrates on the landscape.
The Springhead AshScape Project will celebrate the ash tree in the Dorset and Wiltshire landscape, highlighting its plight in the face of the current epidemic of Chalara, ash dieback disease.
The project will start with a week-long ash summit during the second week of October. It will bring together some thirty tree experts from both the UK and Scandinavia to discuss what is likely to happen to the landscape when ash dieback takes hold in the western half of Britain in the next couple of years. The current prognosis is that around 90% of the 70 million ash trees in Britain will perish. The Forum will comprise a series of public lectures, discussions and field visits; the staging of a photographic exhibition and competition; and a musical processional tribute to the ‘World Tree’ – Yggdrasil from Norse mythology.
The disappearance of so many trees will have a major impact on the local landscape, and part of the continuing work to be initiated by the Project will see the creation of a photographic record, a sort of landscape AshScape Domesday Book, which will engage the public who will be able to help record the ash trees and ash woodlands in their local environments during 2017 and 2018. This will provide not only a valuable snapshot of the Dorset and Wiltshire landscape but potentially could assist in the recreation of AshScapes in the local landscape in twenty or thirty year’s time, when disease-resistant strains have been discovered. To this end, the Springhead AshScape Project will include the creation of a micro tree nursery (in association with local schools) for nurturing known resistant strains of ash and/or other indigenous trees to help repopulate woodlands and hedgerows. Our project is designed to operate as a pilot that can be replicated in other counties and other AONB’s, particularly those located in western half of the UK.
Before the local ash trees disappear from the landscape, as seems likely, the project seeks to celebrate a tree that has been so central to the culture of the Indo-European peoples for thousands of years. Because of its unique strength and impact- absorbing qualities, for over 4000 years ash was the main wood used in the manufacture of weapon and tool handles. These same qualities made ash timber ideal for the manufacture of sports equipment – a single company, the Louisville Slogger Company, claims to have made more than 50 million ash baseball bats in its 130 year history. While, nearer to home, Gore Farm Woods Limited supplies ash to Ireland for the manufacture of hurleys.
Ash timber was crucial to the development of transport, too. The wheels on the chariots found in Tutankhamen’s tomb where made from steam-bent ash, and everything from carriages, boats, sleds and even numerous aircraft parts up until the 1950’s, were made with ash. Medicines from ash trees are recorded in the ancient Chinese pharmacopoeia more than 2000 years ago, and indigenous peoples of North America used ash for constructing wigwams, baskets and also as a medicine for fevers and ear ache. Today, extracts from ash trees have been shown to have positive affects in the treatment of a number of serious conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and HIV.
It was so important as a material that ash entered the mythology of various cultures including Greek, Roman, Norse and Celt. In The Odyssey Achilles famously kills Hector with an ash spear crafted from an ancient ash tree on Mount Pelion. Zeus himself was said to have been born in a cosmic ash and fed manna – the sticky exudate that oozes from the bark of ash trees – as his first food. In Norse mythology the entirety of creation was believed to be supported on a cosmic ash called Yggdrasil and Odin, like Achilles, fought and dispensed justice with a gigantic ash spear.
The Springhead AshScape Project is being organised by the Springhead Trust in collaboration with the Ancient Tree Forum, the Woodland Trust and the Cranborne AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).