ONE of the oldest trees in the country, the Laund oak near Bolton Abbey, which crashed to earth in a storm in January, has had a miracle revival. Assumed dead, it is now sprouting new life.

For 800 years it has stood possibly one tree in thousands of acres of dense woodland part of the hunting forest of Barden. Or has it always been a solitary landmark?

But as it continued to stand, marking the passage of time, its longevity inspired artist, writers and poets.

Among those who have been driven to write about this remarkable tree have been dialect poet Roger Nelson, who has known the tree since a young lad playing in the area and tells us its name is pronounced "larnd" by locals and countryside campaigner Colin Speakman, a member of The Wharfedale Poets – seven all based in and around Ilkley who published their third joint anthology, Sunlight, Shadow and Sin this Spring.

Roger, whose dialect poem appears on page 34 of his collection Dales Dialect Verse, published by the Yorkshire Dialect Society said: "I've known the Laund Oak since the early 1950s, when we used to walk along from Storiths to visit the young family who farmed at the Laund.

"We pronounce it "Larnd", which is closer to the old "Landa" - Eva de Landa paid for Bolton Bridge to be built in 1314 and her son John de Landa was Prior of Bolton Priory.

"We like to think that the Laund Oak was planted by that family, but no-one really knows its exact age. About 800 years is a reasonable guess. It was already ancient and hollow in my father's time.

"This reminds me of what Mark Twain is reported to have cabled to Associated Press "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

Colin who wrote a piece for the Craven Herald earlier this year following the tree's collapse, said on hearing of its revival: "That is brilliant news. It's like the Phoenix rising.

"I hoped it would revive and it has done against all the odds. It's a sign of hope - if there's life there's hope as they say. The Laund oak has beaten the odds. It's wonderful that this living link with mediaeval times is still with us"

Colin recorded that the oak once stood close to a hunting lodge, shelter for gamekeepers tasked with protecting red deer for the pleasure of the Cliffords, Lords of Skipton Castle.

Trees like the Laund Oak which stood the test of time were protected from the woodman's axe because of the shelter they provided for deer and probably wild boar.

The Canons and Lay Brothers of Bolton Priory would have seen the trees on their daily travels.

The Shepherd Lord would have often wandered by under its shade, as did his later descendants the Earls of Cumberland. The redoubtable Lady Ann Clifford would have known the tree when she had Barden Tower rebuilt.

In the 19th and 20th centuries successive generations of Dukes of Devonshire came here not to shoot deer but grouse on the extensive heather acres of Barden Moor and Fell.

But the 19th century Dukes also created the many wonderful paths through the riverside woods to attract poets such as Wordsworth and painters such as Turner and Landseer.

Today the tree continues to "stand" a familiar landmark to those who pass on shank's pony, cycle or car on the back lane between Barden and Storiths.

Laund Oak by Roger Nelson.

When t’ rootin’ wild booar di’n’t spot it,

Wood-screeaker jay sammed up t’ yakkorn.

He felted it, then forgot it,

An’ that’s how tha cem to be born.

Thrice three hundred years tha’s stood theer

Aboon t’ shaw, just out o’ t’ village;

Sin monks ridin’ past chassin’ deer,

Then t’ Scots chassin’ t’ monks, for pillage.

Till Clifford an’ t’ lads tewk up arms

An’ at Flodden settled t’ owd scooares;

Med it safe for t’ out-liggin’ farms

To start winnin’ passter fro’ t’ moors.

Tha sid Rupert camp i’ t’ Brigg Field

On t’ way to be thrashed bi Cromwell.

An thi gurt limbs med a grand bield

When t’ forebears went cooartin’ up t’ fell.

Tha sid Lady Anne mak t’ Tower

Across t’ beck at Barden, bi t’ Scale.

T’ owd lass wielded flaysome power –

But Man’s nobbut short-lived, an’ frail.

Tha’s stood for centuries sin’ then,

Gnarled, knotted, bare-heeaded, an’ all.

Till now, not unlike me missen,

Heart-rotted, tha’s ready to fall.

Laund Oak has Fallen, Colin Speakman.

Warrior felled on field of battle wretched you lie,

butchered; boughs stiff, akimboed, as to grapple absent foe.

Your bark, hard as brick, now fractured, fissured,

exposes timber turned stone, torn, twisted, rock-muscle.

Ancient lord of vanished forest, cut down, axed,

not by blade, but by time’s subtle rot; wetness seeping

insidious into the hard wood, the core, the kernel,

strength slowly slipping sodden to powder,

until, finally, in a gale, you fall, crashed.

A line of time as long as ten human lives;

when your boughs could bend with autumn wind,

the crowns of Plantagenet kings flashed their gold;

hunting horns echoed over crag as deer fled arrow

and spear; under your mighty canopy spread,

the Shepherd Lord learned to read the stars.

Bolton’s Black Canons chanted prayers, Cromwell’s Ironsides

clattered by, and grand Dukes came to cull their game.

Painters, poets, dilettantes seeking picturesque dawdled here.

You were witness, a living presence, even as wars,

insane, burned cities, slaughtered the young.

In your gaunt old age, each Spring, slender twigs, green,

were a corona of delicate leaf. No more.

Soon frost, rain, wind, will dissolve all that remains;

Yet life is in death as microbes invisible, invertebrates, multiply;

quizzical birds will feed, scrabble in the dark, fecund earth,

their songs, sharp as pain, will define new worlds.

Lovers who loiter by will not imagine majesty,

nor even its memory, nor notice a sapling, fragile,