Somewhere far away in a secret country there are trees that have turned to stone — with the grain of the wood and the rings that showed the age of the tree when it lived in a forest about 200 million years ago, still clearly visible in every detail.

Now an Oxfordshire former Army warrant officer Adrian Brocklesby and business partner Trevor Sheffield have set up a company called Jurassic Stone to bring examples of this petrified wood to England.

Mr Brocklesby explained: “It is amazingly beautiful stone. Villagers unearth it from land we have bought near the Black Sea. Then they deliver it to our depot, often by donkey and cart, before being shipped to England.”

Once here, sculptor and stonemason Nicholas Bragg polishes and shapes the beautiful stones into ornamental designs, enhancing the extraordinary crystalline colours contained deep within them. Then the finished products go on sale.

Mr Brocklesby hastened to add that in the mysterious country in which the stone lies around — the name of which he will not divulge for fear of others chasing out there and scavenging the stuff — the petrified wood is classified as a commodity, not an artefact, and that distinction means permission from the government for exporting it was obtained.

At the end of his Army career Mr Brocklesby worked in the recruiting office in St Giles, Oxford. Then he went into the tiles and bathroom business, founding Dream Bathrooms in Bicester nine years ago.

Now the Jurassic Stone sculptures are on view at the bathroom showrooms on the Chaucer Business Park in Bicester.

The enterprise of turning the stones, which stood as trees even before dinosaurs walked the earth, into alluring showpieces for modern Oxfordshire homes came about when Mr Sheffield, also a former soldier, was building some maisonettes as holiday lets.

He said: “I was building a small complex and incorporated some of this stone in a barbecue. Then I became fascinated by it.

“Before these trees grew, the land was made up of desert and molten lava so we are excited to present interior designers, homeowners and landscape gardeners with the opportunity to own a precious piece of our Earth’s very distant past and more specifically, of the trees which preceded and enabled our very existence.”

Petrification of wood occurs over millions of years if the conditions are right. Lack of oxygen when the tree is buried and a flow of mineral-rich sediments lead to all organic matter being turned to stone while still preserving its original shape and structure including growth rings, knots and even bark.

Some describe the stone as “semi-precious”. Certainly when cellulose in the wood has been entirely replaced by silica minerals as it has decayed, many pieces of the stone glitter with crystals and various coloured rays of opal are formed in its structure.

Mr Sheffield runs a restaurant maintenance company but branched out into developing holiday lets on the Black Sea nine years ago as a speculative business venture or — as he puts it — as a sort of pension plan.

He said: “It worked reasonably well too and I loved the country. I showed some of this woodstone (as they call it out there) to Adrian — who is an old Army friend — and we decided to go into business together importing it.

“We set up the company about 18 months ago.

“Indonesian woodstone sells for huge prices from expensive showrooms in London. We are selling it for less.”

All the same, anyone wanting to buy their own large piece of the Jurassic world will need to pay something between £2,000 and £10,000 for a prime, polished example, though people with less deep pockets can buy a raw piece for less than £50.

Of the eight sites in the world where woodstone is found, seven are world heritage sites from which it may not be removed.

But Mr Sheffield explained that all the stone he has imported from the one site from which it may be removed has simply been gathered from the surface.

He said: “its like finding diamonds on your land. Obviously you want to sell them. But we are not mining it.”

He added: “I have been finding out all I can about this woodstone. Now I have discovered that there are many people on the internet who think that it has various mystical qualities.”