Newton’s apple tree shaking at roots
History’s most celebrated apple tree which inspired Newton's theory of gravity is paying the price of fame. The thousands of visitors drawn to Sir Isaac’s childhood home each year could be damaging the roots.world Updated: May 13, 2011 11:53 IST
History’s most celebrated apple tree which inspired Newton's theory of gravity is paying the price of fame.
The thousands of visitors drawn to Sir Isaac’s childhood home each year could be damaging the roots. And in an effort to ensure it keeps flourishing, a willow barrier has been put around the tree, reports the Daily Mail.
It means visitors to the 17th century Woolsthorpe Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, will no longer be able to sit under its branches as Newton was said to have been doing in 1665, when ‘the notion of gravitation came to mind’.
The National Trust, which owns the small manor house where Newton was born in 1642, said the 2ft-high fence was designed to preserve the tree, not exclude visitors.
Official Ann Moynihan said there had been no damage so far but warned that there could soon be a problem.
“Visitor numbers have gone up by around 50%, to 33,000 a year in three years. The more people who visit, the more the soil will become compacted around the tree and over the roots.”
She said the tree – which re-rooted itself in 1820 after being blown down in a storm and grew back in an ‘inverted S-shape’ – was already difficult to get close to because of its shape.
Moynihan denied the fence, which runs around the tree’s ‘root run’, was a response to any health and safety concerns.
“People have always been free to walk around the apple orchard unescorted. We just want to preserve the tree for another 400 years if we can,” she added.