By Karl-James Langford

This week in the Barry and district we turn to living history. A history of memories that lives within trees. And one particular tree at the junction of the A48, and the road to Pendoylan.

This tree is a Castanea sativa otherwise known as a sweet chestnut, which has stood at this location for more than 350 years. Trees of this date are far and few between in the Barry and district today,but were once numerous 100 years ago.

This species of tree can live well beyond 700 years, and the aged appearance of the tree tells me it’s a lot older than the date I have given for it today.

The wonder of old trees, to those interested in history, is that they mark, now extinct hedgerows, orchards, and date the age of the modern roadway that they are alongside. I have often darted down country lane’s in the district searching for archaeological sites, and occasionally just like this tree this week give me clues to our past.

This old tree at the crossroads of the A48, would have been planted, as an income source in that period in the 1600 and into the 1800s where land owners were incredibly rich; and had excess income. An investment in planting trees offered income for the family dynasty that the landowners were part of, even hundreds of years and generations down the line.

For example sweet chestnut trees were planted, not only for the bounty of nuts for roasting in the winter months, but for fencing, cladding of buildings and so on. Introduced from the continental as far back as the Romans, it was seen as an essential element within our landscape. And today its leaves have been seen to have various uses to medical science.

Thanks for joining us this week, more from the Barry and district next week.