Aug 23 2021

Woodworker Carved His Own Memorial

A woodworker who made elaborate commemorative benches for Woodland Trust’s most northerly site is to be himself commemorated by his final unfinished piece.

 

Bill Ross of Ardgay in Sutherland died on Hogmanay aged 76.

 

The story of his woodland benches began in 2015 when an oak tree by the A949 at Ledmore and Migdale Wood was damaged in a storm and for safety reasons had to be felled. Bill approached Woodland Trust Scotland to ask if he could have the wood from the tree to make a memorial bench for his friend Philip Entwhistle. Philip, who died in 2012 was an entomologist who spent considerable time studying the insect life of the wood.

Bill made a beautiful and unusual bench festooned with insect and other wildlife carvings, which was installed at a prominent viewpoint in the wood.

In 2017 another oak on the roadside had to be felled for safety reasons. This 215-year old tree was found to contain a lead musket ball. Judging by the rings this likely went into the tree around 1830.

Bill set about building a second bench with timber from this tree. It was installed in the wood to mark the reintroduction of red squirrels to Ledmore and Migdale in 2019. The seat was placed in the pinewood at a suitable spot for squirrel watching.

 

Bill with bench number 2 – for the squirrels.

 

At the time of his death Bill was working on a third bench from the same oak tree and already in discussions with the Trust about a possible fourth.

 

We found another expert carver, Lee Adams to take on the task, without removing any of Bill’s marks, and leaving any unfinished carvings or features as they are.  We are delighted with the results and this bench has now gone into the wood in Bill’s memory.

 

The third bench features a gargoyle along with celtic patterns and carvings of wildlife including hare and badger.

 

Detail of a hare from Bill’s bench.

 

Before retiring Bill was a quantity surveyor but he had a lifelong passion for woodworking. Over the years he made everything from bracelets and lamps to guitars, furniture, stairways and room interiors.

Celtic knotwork carved on bench number 3 by Bill.

 

A badger emerges from the base of Bill’s bench.

 

Lee Adams with Bill’s bench now installed at Ledmore and Migdale.

 

Bill’s “unfinished” bench

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