Ancient Tree Inventory
Ancient trees need special care and protection. There are thousands of ancient trees in the UK and we need your help to find out where they are.Find out more
Vote for your favourite tree to help us crown this year's Tree of the Year.
Credit: Drew Patterson
A tree may be a village’s oldest inhabitant, a founding figure in a region’s identity or a natural monument integral to a nation’s story. It can also be a much-loved local landmark, a place to play and exercise, a gardener’s pride and joy or a space for communities to gather.
This year's national contest celebrates our living legends that have withstood the test of time; each a constant safe haven for wildlife in a changing and sometimes disconnected landscape.
Our expert panel has shortlisted twelve of the most fascinating trees from across the UK for Tree of the Year 2022. Now is your chance to vote for your favourite and help us crown a winner. The winner will represent us in the European Tree of the Year competition!
Voting is open until noon on Monday 31 October and we'll announce this year's winner on Friday 4 November.
The trees in our shortlist have been added to the Ancient Tree Inventory in the last two years. There are still thousands of unrecorded veteran and ancient trees that deserve recognition and protection. We have to find them to protect them.
Credit: Aljos Farjon / WTML
Approximate age: estimated to be older than 400-500 years old.
Girth: 9.70 metres.
Standing alone in a meadow, this magnificent ancient oak is likely to be a chance survivor, with no historical records tying it to a managed park or forest. Over the past two years, it has remained as one of the largest and oldest oaks recorded on the Ancient Tree Inventory.
It looks as though it is two separate trees that have grown close together, but amazingly it is all one tree! The illusion is due to the large hollow in the trunk that extends towards its roots.
Credit: Den Gregson / WTML
Approximate age: unknown.
Girth: 8.20 metres.
The vast Holly on the Hill stands out in the landscape and becomes more fascinating as you move towards it. Unusually, this striking holly has a broad rounded crown, a clue that its canopy may have been harvested for many years.
This magnificent holly is a massive outgrown coppice stool, and like many large old holly trees, its trunk is actually a collection of stems that have fused and grown together over a very long life. These stems range from two to six metres in diameter.
Credit: Cheryl Duerden / WTML
Approximate age: estimated to be over 700 years old.
Girth: 8.30 metres.
This incredibly old ancient oak splays out with eight enormous limbs dripping with moss and lichen – a haven for many species. Its rounded outgrowths from historical stress give it a characterful appearance, while its hollow trunk reveals its inner beauty.
As the Flitton Oak has aged it has needed care – one of its long limbs is now supported by a prop. With young trees rapidly shooting up around it too local organisations are making plans to secure the future of this mighty oak.
Credit: Gemma Smith / WTML
Approximate age: unknown.
Girth: 6.46 metres.
At first glance this striking sessile oak looks like a mossy lump, but as you near it you can appreciate its unusual form. Two living stems extend from its base and the whole tree is festooned with mosses, ferns and lichens, as if it were growing in a rainforest.
Near Burnbanks, Cumbria, it’s growing in a surviving pocket of ancient woodland. The tree’s form suggests that it could have some historical connections as an old, coppiced tree that was managed for harvesting timber, or that it is the remnant of an oak that has regrown after collapsing in the past.
Credit: Vanessa Champion / WTML
Approximate age: estimated to be over 170 years old.
Girth: 3.30 metres.
Gnarled, wind-swept hawthorns are an iconic part of the character of our countryside, and in the uplands, they can adopt striking twisted forms, like this one.
Today, the tree still bears the signs of past management, with a twisted multi-stem form that has been allowed to sprawl since it stopped being managed as a hedgerow. Hawthorns were often used to mark land boundaries in the past and this gnarly specimen is one in a small line of hawthorns doing just that.
Credit: Ann Clayden / WTML
Approximate age: believed to be over 250 years old.
Girth: 3.70 metres.
This spectacular lime tree is the largest of an avenue of twelve pollarded limes in St James Churchyard, Chipping Campden. Historical records suggest that each tree was planted in the late 1700s to represent one of the twelve apostles.
Five trees were replaced in 1929 but based on its size and condition – including a completely hollow trunk – it is possible that this tree is one of the originals planted over 250 years ago. The avenue it belongs to is a great example of the connection between trees and our cultural heritage.
Credit: Amy McCormack / WTML
Approximate age: estimated to be over 300 years old.
Girth: 5.97 metres.
This sublime sessile oak grows in Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor, Northern Ireland. Its broad, fluted form is festooned with an array of moss, lichen, fungi and decaying wood, which are important for local wildlife.
The natural landscape of the Kilbroney estate, with its characterful veteran trees like the Kilbroney Oak, is believed to have been the inspiration for the fantasy world in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia. This oak certainly has an air of magic about it.
Credit: Rob Hutchinson / WTML
Approximate age: estimated to be over 150 years old.
Girth: 2.90 metres.
This remarkable tree grows in the landscaped grounds of Mavisbank House, one of Scotland’s most important historic houses from the 1700s. This ancient rowan has a huge girth and extensive decay.
This striking tree has bent over to form a full archway which now has growth sprouting from its top. Rowans feature heavily in folklore and although it’s not known if this tree was deliberately trained into this shape or formed naturally, it’s easy to imagine it being a portal to another world!
Credit: July Dowling / WTML
Approximate age: almost certainly as old as Langley Park House (18th century).
Girth: 7.81 metres.
This ancient sweet chestnut stands proud on top of a mound within the grounds of Langley Park House. An old pictorial map from 1763, shows that this tree was gloriously old and gnarled even 250 years ago.
The centuries-old trunk is hollow at the top and large branches surround it like a fallen crown. Its limbs reach outwards, gently hanging above the carpet of snowdrops that emerge from the grassy floor in spring.
Credit: William Bick
Approximate age: likely to be more than 500 years old.
Girth: 9.55 metres.
This incredible tree is the largest on the Great Oaks golf course in the Rolls of Monmouth Estate. Its magnificent presence must be a real talking point for putters at the 16th hole.
Having lost most of its upper canopy, it has the typical squat form of an ancient oak growing in an open area. The trunk is hollowing, with hulks of deadwood still retained. The nooks and crannies, crevices and cracks in this spectacular pedunculate oak provide an important haven for local wildlife.
Credit: Helen Leaf / WTML
Approximate age: unknown.
Girth: 4.28 metres.
This magnificent horse chestnut has obviously suffered from trauma in the past. The original mighty trunk stands hollow and decaying, while the branches have fallen to its sides. Despite this, the tenacious tree has survived.
In a process called layering, roots have sprouted from the fallen branches, anchoring them to the ground and feeding a new lease of life that forges skyward. Eventually, these branches will turn into trees in their own right, all genetically identical to the original parent trunk.
Credit: Ancient Tree Inventory
Approximate age: unknown.
Girth: 6.78 metres.
The Waverley Abbey Yew is truly spectacular. Its roots grow into and around the ruins of Waverley Abbey – the very first monastery founded in Britain 900 years ago by the reforming Cistercian religious order. The abbey was dismantled in 1536 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
While we don't know the age of this yew, we do know that it can't be more than 480 years old. It is a beautiful tree with roots that sprawl out above ground before plunging into the earth. Its multi-stemmed form is dotted with holes, crevices and areas of decay that provide valuable habitat for wildlife.
If these beautiful ancient trees have inspired you, join our volunteers and help us map the oldest and most important trees in the UK so we can better protect them.
Learn more about ancient trees and why they're so important.