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History of Pressmennan Wood

The site has been continuously wooded since the early 15th century but has seen much human intervention throughout its history and much of the woodland is currently classified as Ancient Semi Natural Woodland with large areas of Plantations on Ancient Woodland Sites.

It’s believed that Pressmennan oak was used in the building of Great Michael for the Royal Scottish Navy, the largest ship afloat at the time of its launch in 1511. The wood later appears on the Roy Map, sometimes known as the Great Map, made from a military survey of Scotland in around 1750.

Estate records from around 1812 show seed being imported from all over the world so it is unclear if the mature trees dating from this period are derived from local seed.

Until the 1950s, Pressmennan Wood was mainly oak woodland, but the site was then acquired by the Forestry Commission from the Biel and Dirleton estates and much of it was felled and replanted with a predominately conifer mix. The Commission later introduced more broadleaf trees and opened a Forest Trail for public access in 1971.

The Woodland Trust Scotland bought the wood from the Forestry Commission in 1988 and has been slowly restoring it by gradually removing some of the conifers planted in the 1950s, and most of the rhododendron planted in Victorian times. This allows more light to reach the woodland floor, encouraging native species to regenerate. In 2008, the sculpture trail featuring ‘mythical’ creatures, the Glingbobs and Tootflits, was created by local sculptor Robin Wood.