13m long table created from a 5000 year-old fossilised black oak tree to be displayed at Rochester Cathedral.
An incredible 13m long table made from fossilised wood is coming to Rochester Cathedral from the 3rd March. The Fenland Black Oak Table was made to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and is made of the nation’s rarest and most precious hardwood – black oak.
In 2012, a giant black oak tree was found in a field in Wissington Fen, East Anglia. A 13.2m long section of a tree was discovered deep in the peat. It had laid undisturbed for 5000 years. It is believed the tree would have been an immense 55 metres tall when it was alive. For comparison, present day oak trees are around 20 metres.
For ten years a team of privately funded specialist crafts people worked to create a stunning sculptured table from the 5000-year-old wood. Allowing this incredible tree to be preserved in perpetuity for future generations to admire and use.
Leading the Fenland Black Oak Project to create the table has been Hamish Low. The creation of this table could not have happened without the generosity of private donors, local businesses, charitable foundations and trusts.
Hamish Low says “We are truly grateful to all those who have funded this project. In addition to the support that has come from The Building Crafts College in Stratford, London, who not only allowed the use of their workshop facilities but encouraged students from their cabinet making and woodworking courses to get involved.”
Rochester Cathedral is only the second venue to display the table. It is currently at Ely Cathedral where it was unveiled by HRH The Princess Royal. The vast table will be on display in the Nave for a year from the 3 March 2023. It will usually be in the Nave aisles but the Cathedral has plans for it to be moved into the central Nave at times through the year.
Visitors will be able to feel the table and marvel at the incredible craftsmanship which has gone into preserving the table. Alongside the table will be panels detailing the history of black oak and the ten-year project to turn the wood into a functioning table.
Rochester Cathedral is keen to make sure the table does not just become something to look at. They want as many people as possible to use the table. The table was created to be a “Table for the Nation”.
Throughout the year a programme of events using the table will take place. Schools and families will be encouraged to use the table for activities exploring both the incredible tree and the history of the Cathedral. People will even be able to have dinners on the table if they wish to hire it for the evening. The public are encouraged to get in touch with the Cathedral if they have ideas of how they would like to use the table.