How Old Did You Say?

One of the sparks of inspiration behind my writing my epic fantasy Sentinal series occurred while I was strolling through an ancient woodland near where I live. I wondered how old are these trees? Some of them are centuries old. What history they must have seen, and what tales they could tell if they were to wake up and speak.

That led me to thinking what if a man slept in the tree, and what if he woke thousands of years into his future? And so was born the Sentinals series.

The Druid’s Oak , 2013 in Burnham Beeches, UK. Picture by Wim Brinkerwink

One of the oldest trees in Burnham Beeches in England, is the ‘The Druid’s Oak’ which is approx. 800 years old, about 9m tall and nearly 9m wide (girth). The Druid’s Oak is a Pollard. The crown used to be cut just above headheight for firewood, and then allowed to regrow and was recut many times. The practice of pollarding died out in the early twentieth century, as coal replaced firewood.

The oldest trees in the world are thought to be the Bristlecone pines which thrive in really cold conditions in places like Atlanta in the USA. The cold conditions mean that the trees grow really slowly. It can take two years for a pine cone to mature. The slow growth and adverse conditions mean the wood is really dense which helps them resist insect and fungi attacks.

Prometheus, Image credit: Mother Nature Network

The Bristlecone pines are known to have lived for over five thousand years, (five thousand years!!!) and grow to heights of fifty feet. An amazing feat for a tree. Some are older than the neighbouring glaciers!

I love how some of these trees are even named. These monumental trees grow to have fame all of their own and are mourned when they die.

My Sentinal trees are not so far-fetched after all. Reality is stranger than fiction most of the time. The Sentinal trees are tall silver-trunked trees, with a crown of emerald-green, pointy leaves. Each one houses a Lady’s Guard, one of Lady Leyandrii’s Sentinals, who she encased in the tree when she sundered the bloodstone and banished all magic, including herself from the land of Remargaren. Unable to follow the Lady, her guards have slept for three thousand years, or so the legends say.

Find out more in Book One of the Sentinals series, Sentinals Awaken. Now also available as an audiobook via Audible, Apple iBooks and Amazon.

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