History

What are the stages of development of a bog oak?

What was the way that an oak passed beginning from the moment it was an acorn, then falling into the ground, from the rise of Christianity and up to nowadays?

One can often read a false notion about the oak that grew at the times of Roman Empire and in the early Christianity. It says that the oak fell into the river or lake and was staining for centuries and thousands of years at the bottom of these water bodies. But this is not exactly so.

According to the history, more than thousand years ago, the civilization living at the flood plains of the Desna River (and many other rivers as well) was poorly developed. Therefore these areas were a real paradise for oak groves; that is why they looked like wild forests. People did not need as much wood as nature could supply them with. In those days, as well as nowadays, the Desna River used to change its waterway and cut several metres of a steep slope during each spring flood. Today, it is a natural disaster and environmental protective measures are taken to prevent it. If the river washes out the people’s houses, they stabilize the bank, if it happens to the forest, it is sawn away. But thousands years ago these processes happened spontaneously; the river washed out the oak groves, covered them with a layer of clay and moved away at a distance of hundreds and thousands of metres (photo).

In such a way the oak got into the ground and lied at a depth of 3-7 metres where the soil was rich in moisture with little oxygen. So the process of staining started; ferrous salts entered into reaction with tannin and depending on the concentration of ferrous salts and overall structure of the soil (clayey, sandy, silty) the stained oaks acquired various colours and tints.

And how did the oak get into the river-bed again?

The oak trunks stain in the soil at a low water level. Hundreds of years pass. The river flows far away from this place (perhaps at a distance of some kilometres) and in the course of centuries it sometimes returns to the same place. We can see it nowadays as well. As a result, the river washes out the oak trunks which it had flooded before.

TThe level of bog oak trunks bedding is relatively high, i.e. beyond the water level. We can see it on the photo.

In this case we can observe the process of its washing out of the soil, but it happens very seldom. As a rule a bog oak lies at a low water level. Thanks to fishermen who had digged out a part of the steep slope we can see the trunk of the tree lying in the soil (right photo). It is technically difficult to excavate these trees, besides it would harm environment as well.

Their turn would come in a couple of years when they will be completely washed out of a dense layer of clay during the spring flood.