Skip to content

Restoration of the Historic Wood of Keyr

Keir Wood is a remnant ancient Oak and Ash woodland in the parish of Keir, Penpont, Dumfries and Galloway. The wood has excellent historic provenance and is mapped as early as 1654 in the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland.

The map extract below shows the original extent of the woodland (outlined in blue) in the region of 2000 ha with the current remnant ancient woodland taken from the NatureScot.

Ancient Woodland Inventory shown in darker green.

The wood is documented as far back as 1654 as the extract from Blaeu’s atlas shows below.

The full extent of Keir Wood is more clearly shown on the 1750 Roy Lowlands map shown on the extract below.

The extent of the wood started to reduce from the 1700s onwards as demand for timber for construction, shipbuilding and the local mining industry grew.

The wood continued to reduce until by 1840s much of Keir Wood had been lost as this extract from the OS 6” 1843 map shows leaving it in a similar form to that seen today.

Today the original extent of the wood is still identifiable and there are significant stands of mature Oak trees with many field margin trees and some areas of surviving Oak woodland pasture. Some field and field margin replanting of Oak has taken place over the last 20 years although there is obvious evidence of aging and decline in many of the mature trees.

The restoration project is led by the local community, landowners and Keir Community Council. Although the re-creation of major blocks of new Oak woodland is not a realistic prospect at this stage, the initial work in 2022-23 planting season sought to plant up to 20 small Oak trees (mixed sessile and pedunculate oaks of local provenance) in 2 metre square post, rail and Ryelock cages on each of up to 20 landholdings within the original area of Keir Wood.

The second year of work (planting season 2023-24) seeks to build on this ambition, reaching as yet unplanted landowners.

October 2023 also saw an acorn collecting day in partnership with the team at Wallace Hall Academy.

Work ongoing to re-establish this historic oak wood, with funding from Woodland Trust and the Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Nature Restoration Funding.

“A seed hidden in the heart of an apple is an orchard invisible.”

Welsh Proverb

Dumfries & Galloway Woodlands is registered in Scotland as a SCIO, number 052525.