Tuesday, 17 January 2012

'The Nine Brethren'

Ancient Boundary Marker

'The Nine Brethren' is a remarkable tree which is situated deep within Nocton Wood, otherwise known locally as 'The Big Wood'. It is rumoured to be an ancient boundary marker separating the Lord of the Manor's land and that belonging to the old Augustinian Priory founded by Robert D'Arcy, the ruins of which are situated on Abbey Hill overlooking Nocton Fen and Wasp's Nest.

The tree was named 'The Nine Brethren' because of its unusual shape - the bole has divided into nine separate trunks allowing people to stand within its centre.

Cataloguing Sheila Redshaw's extensive archive of material, I came across an old map which identified the exact location of  'The Nine Brethren', together with an image showing what it looked like. This has prompted me to seek out this wonderful specimen to record it once again for posterity in 2012.

You may be interested to know that North Kesteven District Council classify Nocton Wood as:

'An outstanding wildlife site, and the central part of a complex of woodlands in this part of the District that are of County importance. It is also one of the largest woodland blocks in the District. The woodland type varies from high forest to coppice, and the shrub layer is rich. The soil is sandy and the ground flora is therefore quite different to the other woods in the area. The wood is an important bird habitat and, in overall terms, is one of the finest non-SSSI woodlands in Lincolnshire.'

You might have noticed logging lorries going through the village recently, transporting large amounts of timber and wondered where these were coming from. There is extensive maintenance work going on in Nocton Wood and I understand this is the source of the timber.

If you wish to read more about 'The D'Arcys' here is a blog entry posted back in 2007.

Plate 1: 'The Nine Brethren' in January 2012 [inset is a picture taken many years ago - I believe it was taken in Winter 1973].
Plate 2 and 3: these two images give better detail of this distinctive tree.

Plate 1. 'The Nine Brethren'
Plate 2. 'The Nine Brethren'
Plate 3. 'The Nine Brethren'


  1. Geoff,
    lovely article. Can you clarify please whether this marvellous specimen is visible from any public right of way or from whom one might seek permission for access if it is not?

  2. Hi Philip, Thanks for your comments. The OS Map show public rights of way around the periphery of Nocton Wood, but none through the wood itself. Whilst there are clear, distinct tracks through the wood, it is in private ownership.
    Looking at the archive of photographs, clearly local people used to enter Nocton Wood for leisure/nature walks, but I believe this was discouraged by the previous owners (Nocton Ltd), who have since sold out to Nocton Dairies Ltd. The signs showing this as private land are still in place incidentally.
    I understand that Mr Robert Howard of Nocton Rise is looking after the farmland on behalf of Nocton Dairies Ltd - I would suggest he might be the person to approach for permission to access. Regards, Geoff

  3. Hello Geoff.

    This is an interesting article.

    The Nine Brethren appears to me to be a coppiced oak which would explain the large 8 metre girth of the base of the tree compared to the stems arising from there. It has been a long time since it was last coppiced.

    I wondered if you knew anything about how old the nine brethren is and if you knew it was a coppice.

    Kind regards


  4. Hi James. Thank you for the interesting points mentioned. I'm afraid my article was all the information I have on this wonderful specimen. Nocton Wood is now in the ownership of Beeswax Farming and there is no public access. Fortunately, the new owners are investing heavily in the farming estate and land management. Much work has been undertaken to manage the woodland, but I'm not aware of any specific work on the 'Nine Brethren'. Regards.


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