The ancient elm known as Bag’s or Bagg’s Tree grew, until 1975, on the Downs above Harwell, between the Chilton track and the Winnaway. It gave its name to the surrounding field, and is mentioned in the John Loder charity as some fourteen acres awarded in lieu of Grove land in the West Field of Harwell, at the time of the enclosures (1802 – 05). It is still owned by the Harwell Parochial Charities.
Traditionally it is said to have marked the spot where Bagrun, king of the Danes, died of wounds on his way back to the Thames at Goring after being defeated by Alfred at the battle of Ashdown. A succession of trees was probably planted over the centuries to mark the site. When the latest elm had to be felled, its trunk measured 4.3 metres round. Its age was estimated at about 275 – 300 years, roughly the life span of an elm.
Between 1695 and 1722, twelve people called Baggs are mentioned in the parish register as having been baptised or buried. The Oxford Dictionary gives the verb bag(g) as meaning cut (wheat etc.) with reaping-hook, originating in the seventeenth century; also badge, a verb with the same meaning, of unknown origin.
- Hazel Phillips –
20 Feb 2008
There is no mention of the wonderful band that was named after this tree!!
- Baggs tree
Bill Sievwright –
9 Dec 2009
I refer to your article on “Bag(g)s tree” and note that you say it refers to a Danish leader, or king, called Bagrun, as being the person associated with the tree. Reading a book recently about King Alfred I noticed that it says the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to the Dane killed at the battle of Ashdown as being “Bagsecg” not “Bagrun”, and the following (paraphrased) info is given on a wikipedia page:Bagsecg (died January 8, 871) was a Viking leader referred to as a ‘King’ and was possibly a King of Denmark, after Horik II died and ruled Denmark after his death from the 860s to his death in 871. He is also known as Bægsecg or Bagsec. He was leader, along with Halfdan Ragnarsson, of part of the great Danish army which invaded Wessex in 871. That army subsequently lost the battle of Englefield against a local saxon army, won the battle of Reading against Ethelred and his son Alfred, but was killed along with five Danish earls at the battle of Ashdown on the North Wessex Downs.
Therefore, is it not likely then that the tree in question was named after Bagsecg, not Bagrun? I can find no trace of anyone called Bagrun.