Woodland wonders: Coed Bryn Oer: Woodland wonders

History of Coed Bryn Oer

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History of Coed Bryn Oer

Coed Bryn Oer is situated at the head of the valleys near to Bryn Bach Country Park and Tredegar. The area was mined for coal and iron ore for over two centuries. However, the area has a longer history than that indeed, during the construction of the Heads of the Valleys road in the early 60s and completed by 1965.

Contractors found hoards of Bronze Age weapons in their excavations There are also ancient stone burial Cairns on the surrounding hilltops. These Cairns were dated from the Bronze Age time, at around 2000BC.

Mining for Iron and Coal

Coed Bryn Oer was mined for coal and iron to supply local iron furnaces at Rhymney, Bute town and Tredegar and was linked to the furnaces by tram roads. These raw materials were originally found in seams lying just below the surface and were fairly easily extracted using a process known as patching. Patching involved the removing of the top layer of soil in a certain area to access the minerals lying below the surface and could be called an early form of open cast mining. Later on when these reserves were exhausted, levels and deep mine shafts were driven into the earth, to access the lower seams and extract the iron ore and coal. For example, Bryn Bach pit was sunk in 1818 and employed men and woman and children as young as 7 years of age.

Finally, the site was open cast in the 20th century for coal prior to being reclaimed to the landscape we see today of open pasture and small area of woodland. Open cast was a similar process to patching in that layers of soil, rock etc were removed to expose coal seams. Open cast operations created employment for the local community, at the same time as providing essential low cost energy for the nation.

Modern Day Coed Bryn Oer

Following the open cast mining in the 20th century, and the restoration of the landscape, Bryn Bach Country Park was created in the 1980s with its lake, together woodlands and amenity facilities. Coed Bryn Oer was reclaimed and planted at the same time although it has not been managed as intensely as the adjacent Bryn Bach Country Park. The area is being planted up with new woodland and further links with Bryn Bach are being developed with retaining its low-key recreational use for locals to enjoy. In 1990 it was the location for the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

Trees planted at Coed Bryn Oer

If you look at the interactive Map of the site you can see the different tree planting spacing.

Lodge pole Pine, which is the main coniferous species found in most of the existing conifer planted areas, will be thinned / felled starting next year and re-planted with the deciduous species such as Alder, Aspen, Downy Birch, Oak, Rowan.

The majority of the 50,000trees planted at Coed Bryn Oer were Common Alder, Silver Birch, Common Hawthorne, Sessile Oak, Goat Willow, Rowan and Swedish Whitebeam at a spacing of 2m and 3m. All of the trees are from local provenance meaning they were sourced locally rather than abroad and were 40 - 50 cm in height when they were planted.

The trees planted were planted as forest transplants and with time and management they will develop into large native woodland of some 23 hectares. The main objective was to create an ecological niche for wildlife and assist in carbon capture rather than a quick timber crop for harvesting. In addition, it was also to create a pleasing landscape for local people to visit and enjoy.