The Oak Groves of Tunhem

The Oak Groves in Västra Tunhem are of great natural and cultural beauty and have to a large extent been preserved since the 18th century.

On the calcareous alum shale and sandstone that form a plateau which towers a number of meters above Tunhemsslätten located below, the right kind of conditions for a wooded cultural landscape with few comparisons in the country is created. The area is 74 hectares and was formed in 1996. The reasons the area became a nature preserve were several, but one of the major reasons was that it is an exceptionally beautiful area.

The Oak Tree
The name The Oak Groves of Tunhem tells us that the oak trees take central stage here. There are some 50 oak trees here that are hundreds of years old. Next to the vicarage one can find the oldest oak tree in the area, which is between 800 and 900 years old and is called Tunhemseken (The Oak at Tunhem). Such an old tree is the habitat for organisms of many kinds. It has been determined that more than 70 different kinds of lichens can be found on it, and depending on their demand on light and heat as well as other factors, they are to be found on different parts of the tree. A number of different insects, that are dependent on the oak, can also be found on it. Several of the insects are on the “red list” which means that the European Union can make demands that steps have to be taken to protect their environment. One example is the rare hermit beetle.

The Cultural Landscape

Not only is it important to try to preserve the nature in this area but also the culture, which is characterized by people having cultivated the soil for thousands of years. Burial-mounds, stone circles and raised stones give evidence of this. During the latest inventory of ancient monuments, large areas of so-called fossil tilled land – land that was cultivated hundreds of years ago, and in which traces of this cultivation are still visible today, were found.

The Tunhem Trail

The local folklore society in Västra Tunhem has prepared a hiking trail, the Tunheim trail, which starts at the local folklore society and passes through the area. During the hike the visitor goes by the church, Alkärret (a marsh that never dries out), the large, old oak tree in Tunhem, the vicarage, the old mill, the oak groves and the grave-fields.