Arboreal tattoos – names carved in trees

Tree Art?

Vandalism or real social history?

Is carving a name on a tree an act of vandalism? Does it harm the tree? I was walking along an old bridlepath near Stafford when I spotted a clearing through a hawthorn hedge. The land here, near Seighford, rises in a ridge away from the village and above the flood plain of the Sow valley. Trains rattle through on the West Coast mainline and lorries speed along the distant M6. Despite this, it’s a peaceful and tranquil spot brimming with wildlife. There is no litter and no fly-tipping, but there are names carved into the trunks of alders and sycamores and horse-chestnuts.

Predictably, many of these are declarations of undying love. Arboreal tattoos you could call them. Cheaper and easily forgotten, I guess, if Tanya or Brian don’t turn out to be ‘4-Ever Tru Luv.’ Looking at some of the names on the trees it’s tempting to wonder what became of the people who wrote them. Are Bret and Julia still an item? Is Sharon still in love with Trev three children and a bankruptcy later? Do these people still live round here or have they begun new lives in New Zealand or Canada? Some of the dates stretch back to the 1960s and 70s. Whatever the story and whatever your view of carving into tree trunks it’s touching and fascinating that a snapshot in time has been captured. For one person, at least, they felt something strong and wanted to make a mark on history………

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About richlakin

I'm married with two young boys and living in Staffordshire. If I'm not working you can find me day dreaming or holding high-brow literature in front of my face. Or eating Arctic Roll.
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