In February of this year, farmers G.S. Shropshire & Sons found a massive trunk of black bog oak thousands of years old in their field at Downham Market, Cambridgeshire, east England. The marshy Fenland area is known as a treasure trove of ancient timber which fell when sea levels rose starting around 7000 years ago. The fallen timbers were preserved in the silty water that would become peat. This trunk is 44 feet long and weighs five tons...Instead of processing this log into parquet-sized pieces, such as those for the table in the insert above, the finders decided that this one deserved special treatment:
The finders alerted cabinet makers Adamson and Low, specialists in bog oak processing who purchase hundreds of logs a year from fenland farmers who turn them up while working their fields. Hamish Low recognized that the size and condition of this trunk made it exceptional, that as a remnant of the giant trees that once bristled in England’s forests this specimen should be saved for the nation instead of being made into small furniture pieces.
He could go ahead and plank the trunk, but instead of dividing the planks into more easily dried boards, they would be kept in their 44-foot lengths. Once dried the planks would shrink, but they’d still be massive and could be used to make a giant table. That huge tabletop could then be exhibited as an example of and tribute to the arboreal giants that once dominated the English landscape. There isn’t a single piece of bog oak as such on public display in the UK. Here was the perfect opportunity to rectify that oversight...That required specially-made equipment, extra funding, and the skills and muscles of 40 volunteers. Some of the details are discussed in The History Blog. The table was projected to be completed and publicly displayed in the summer of 2013.