Rare find leads to unique exhibits

Daniel Lacey is pictured with the 7000-year-old bog oak which he is using for his Spring Fling exhibits. The wood was recovered from a layer of peat in the Solway Firth last year.
Daniel Lacey is pictured with the 7000-year-old bog oak which he is using for his Spring Fling exhibits. The wood was recovered from a layer of peat in the Solway Firth last year.

A Langholm-based craftsman is turning his hand to creating furniture from a 7000-year oak tree for this year’s Spring Fling open studios event.

The ancient tree grew beside the Solway Firth during the Mesolithic period when the only humans in the area were hunter gatherers, centuries before the first settled farmers.

Daniel Lacey, whose clients include Middle Eastern royalty, will display items made from the huge piece of bog oak at his studio during the event, which runs from May 26-28.

These will be seen alongside ceramics created by Siobhan and Martin Miles-Moore, from Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria, who have used burned sawdust from the oak to create unusual coloured glaze for their pottery.

Quality bog oak is much sought-after by furniture makers but finds of sufficient size are rare. To recover a log this old so far north in mainland Britain, is highly unusual – all the more so because it is seven metres long and almost a metre wide.

Daniel said:“It’s remarkable to work with wood like this because the tannin present in oak reacts with the minerals it has absorbed over the millennia to give it an astonishing nearly-black colour and a very unusual lustre. The colours are very subtle – something that people who love wood really watch out for.

“It’s also quite something to think that this tree, which grew by the Solway Firth all that time ago, has been rediscovered and can be used to create furniture designed to make the most of its special character.”

The tree was recovered from beneath a 7000-year-old layer of peat by a farmer on the Cumbrian side of the firth during drainage work last year and Daniel has been carefully drying it out, ready to be worked, ever since.

This year’s event will include 86 specially selected artists and makers of jewellery, ceramics, sculpture, paintings, photography, original prints, metalwork, glass, textiles, furniture and more.

Full details of all those taking part in Spring Fling can be found at www.spring-fling.co.uk.