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Robin Hood’s Hideout? Discover the Legendary Major Oak

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Written By Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

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Home » Ancient & Remarkable Trees » Robin Hood’s Hideout? Discover the Legendary Major Oak

Today, let’s branch out and leaf through the captivating tale of the Major Oak, Sherwood Forest’s most celebrated timber titan.

Nestled near the village of Edwinstowe, this ancient English oak isn’t just any tree—it’s a living legend, and quite the chunky one at that!

How Old? Oh, Just a Sprightly 800-1100 Years!

Imagine a tree so old it could tell tales from the Viking raids to Netflix binges (well, almost).

The Major Oak has stood the test of time, witnessing everything from the Battle of Hastings to the Twitter era.

With an age estimated between 800 and 1100 years, this tree isn’t just old—it’s a time-traveling elder of the forest!

Major Oak During Winter
Bare branches of the Major Oak during Winter.

A Canopy That Could Host a Party

Spanning a massive 28 meters wide, the Major Oak’s canopy could practically host a small festival.

Under this leafy roof, you’ll find not just branches, but a whole community.

From squirrels scampering to beetles bustling, it’s a bustling hub of woodland critter activity.

Major Oak During Summer
The Major Oak in Summer

Is It One Tree or a Conglomerate of Saplings?

One of the great mysteries of the Major Oak is its origin. Is it a single tree that decided to go big or a group of saplings that thought, “Why not grow together?”

While we don’t have all the answers, we do know this tree has mastered the art of taking up space, growing slowly but surely in a clearing where competition was scarce.

Major Oak During Autumn

Major by Name, Major by Nature

It’s not just big; it’s major!

Named after Major Hayman Rooke who catalogued it in 1790, the Major Oak isn’t just known for its size but also its significance.

It’s a centerpiece in local folklore, rumored to have been the go-to hangout for Robin Hood and his merry men.

Imagine that—medieval bandits trading stories under its branches!

The massive trunk of the Major Oak
It is rumored that the Major Oak was a hang-out for Robin Hood and his merry men.

Fenced Off but Not Forgotten

Today, you can’t cozy up to the Major Oak like you could in the past.

To protect its ancient roots from the eager feet of thousands of visitors, it’s been lovingly fenced off since the 1970s.

But fear not! This allows you to admire its majestic spread without causing harm, ensuring that it stands tall for future generations to marvel at.

Autumn Colors of the Major Oak
The Major Oak during Autumn/Fall.

Supported to Stand Strong

Over the years, the Major Oak has gotten a bit of help to stay upright.

With chains first fitted in 1908 and an elaborate support system of metal structures introduced in the 2000s, this tree is well-equipped to keep on thriving.

Think of it as a tree with its own personal scaffolding, ensuring it doesn’t miss a beat—or a bough!

Branch Supports on the Major Oak
The branches of the Major Oak are supported by metal structures.

What’s Happening Inside the Major Oak?

Curious about what goes on inside this giant?

In July 2023, we had the unique chance to peek inside its canopy via a cherry picker.

It’s not just a tree; it’s a high-rise apartment for diverse fauna! From bats to birds and a medley of minibeasts, the Major Oak is a microcosm of forest life.

So, whether you’re a dendrologist (a tree scientist, don’t you know?), a history buff, or just someone who appreciates a good old natural wonder, the Major Oak is a towering example of the power and mystery of nature.

Next time you’re in Sherwood, pay a visit to this arboreal giant—just remember, it’s more than a tree, it’s a historical monument that just happens to do photosynthesis!

Digging Deeper

Location

The Major Oak is located in Sherwood Forest, near the village of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, England, a short walk from the new visitor center along the Major Oak Trail.

Type of Tree

The Major Oak is an English oak (Quercus robur), known for its massive girth and sprawling canopy.

Gnarled Trunk of the Major Oak
The Major Oak is a massive, ancient English oak (Quercus robur).

Is The Major Oak Still Alive?

Yes, the Major Oak is still alive, continuing to thrive with the aid of supportive structures and conservation efforts.

Descendants

In 2003, a plantation of 260 saplings grown from the Major Oak’s acorns was started in Dorset to promote its legacy and genetic study.

Can You Visit It?

Yes, the Major Oak can be visited by following the Major Oak Trail from the new visitor center in Sherwood Forest, with the area around the tree fenced off to protect its roots.

Conservation

The Major Oak has been supported with chains and metal scaffolding since the early 1900s to help bear the weight of its limbs, and it is surrounded by a fence installed in the 1970s to protect its roots from soil compaction due to visitors.

Trunk and metal Supports of the Major Oak
The limbs of the Major Oak are supported by metal scaffolding.

Legacy

The Major Oak holds a cherished place in English heritage as a symbol of Sherwood Forest and its folklore, celebrated as a historical monument and a natural wonder, and was named England’s Tree of the Year in 2014.

Want More?

Are you fascinated by the legendary tales of ancient trees like the Major Oak?

Then explore other natural wonders such as the Royal Oak, the mysterious Crooked Forest in Poland, the unique Pennantia baylisiana — the world’s rarest tree, Australia’s historic Prison Boab Tree, Hyperion — the tallest tree on Earth, the ancient Olive Tree of Vouves, the venerable Methuselah, or the majestic Avenue of Baobabs.

Each of these trees tells a distinct story, merging natural beauty with the threads of human history, inviting you to explore and reflect on their significant roles in our world.

Sources – Visit Sherwood & Wikipedia

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Lakeisha Ethans

Heritage Gardener with Grafting Expertise

Lakeisha grew up in East Africa, literally surrounded by nature which sparked her interest in learning more about trees and plants from a very young age. She belongs to a family of gardeners, so for her, gardening is a way of life, a tradition she’s proud to uphold. As a self-taught gardener, Lakeisha has successfully grafted trees to produce hybrids for gardens and landscapes. When she’s not gardening, she’s writing about her experience with nature or watching baking fails!