Ancient sycamore returned to Newbattle Abbey College grounds

Newbattle Abbey College is re-planting the saplings of an ancient tree that stood in the College grounds for nearly 450 years. The baby trees have been rescued from the original that fell in strong winds six years ago.

The College held a special tree planting ceremony today as part of its continued 75th Anniversary Celebrations. Four saplings from the old sycamore were planted along with two rowan saplings and 420 large hedge/copse plants given to Newbattle Abbey College by The Woodland Trust.

Over 20 pupils from St David’s Primary school joined in, having spent some time working with lecturer Paul Connachan in the community garden before enjoying a woodland walk.

The original sycamore is believed to have been first planted in the College grounds by the Earl of Lothian in 1560. After standing tall for centuries on the College’s picturesque drive way, the 95 foot giant came crashing down in May 2006. The wood was then used to make decorative furniture celebrating the College’s 70th Anniversary. This furniture still stands inside the College building.

Community Forester for the Scottish Lowlands Forest District John Ogilvie, said, “The four sycamore seedlings were taken from the original tree when it blew down in 2006. They have been kept in a nearby nursery where they’ve been brought up ever since.

“The significance of this tree planting ceremony is that we are replanting a piece of the College’s extensive history. Being able to make sure we can maintain that link with history is really something special to be a part of.

“Of course trees throughout the College grounds will continue to fall and die and now really is the time to make sure we begin planting and sustaining the woodland to make sure future generations can enjoy the same beautiful surroundings we see here today.”

Commenting on the return of the ancient tree to the College grounds, Principal Ann Southwood said, “The old sycamore was a significant feature of the grounds, dominating the main entrance to the College, and it was much loved by staff and students alike. Therefore it brings us great pleasure to be able to return part of the original tree to its rightful home. This re-planting is an ideal way of being able to keep the sycamore part of the College’s history for centuries to come.”


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Suse Coon

Suse Coon started life training to be an architect but ended up as a fashion buyer then civil servant. After some time out to bring up her family of three, she returned to what had been a hobby and entered the field of freelance journalism. After becoming regional correspondent, then editor of the orienteering magazine CompassSport, she formed Pages Editorial & Publishing Services. In this guise, West Lothian Life was launched, while Suse maintained a level of freelancing and wrote the award winning children's novel Richard's Castle. In 1999, Suse bought over CompassSport and found her time taken up pretty well exclusively with the two magazines. In 2004, West Lothian Life was expanded to form Lothian Life, however, the workload was too great. In 2006, CompassSport was sold and Suse concentrated on the web version of Lothian Life. Her hobbies include gardening, orienteering, sea kayaking and Tai Chi.

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