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18 March 2007
Tree over ancient stone circle chopped down

A 200-year-old tree at the centre of worship by druids and witches has been chopped down to size after it became diseased. The 80ft beech at Winterbourne Abbas (England) has been reduced to a 10-metre stump by English Heritage because of fears it would die and fall over. The tree has become a dominant feature at the site, famous for the ancient stone circle standing beneath its branches.
     Now the Dolmen Grove, a Weymouth-based druid group, will perform a 're- balancing' ritual in mourning for the loss of the tree and to mark a new beginning for their holy site. Chris Bally, regional landscape manager for English Heritage said a number of local people had made complaints about the tree being cut. But he said English Heritage had acted in the interests of public safety and to protect the stones. He said: "The tree is infected with the fungus Meripilus giganteus (also commonly known as Polypore) which causes decay to the underground roots of mature beech.
"Once the fungus is established, the tree loses support from its roots and will eventually blow over. We are very sad at having to lose the tree but due to the proximity of the A35, the tree had to be made safe before it fell."

Source: Dorset Echo (13 March 2007)

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