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The Major Oak is a large English oak tree near the village of Edwinstowe in the heart of Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, England. According to local folklore, it was Robin Hood's shelter where he and his merry men slept. It weighs an estimated 23 tons, has a girth of 33 feet (10 metres), and is about 800–1000 years old. In June 2002, the Tree Council designated the Major Oak one of fifty Great British Trees in recognition of its place in the national heritage.
There are several theories concerning why it became so huge and oddly shaped:
- The Major Oak may be several trees that fused together when saplings.
- The tree was possibly pollarded, a system of tree management that enabled foresters to grow more than one crop of timber from a single tree causing the trunk to grow large and thick. However, there is only limited evidence to support this theory as none of the other trees in the surrounding area were pollarded.
Since the Victorian era its massive limbs have been partially supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding.
In February 1998, a local company took cuttings from the Major Oak and began cultivating clones of the famous tree with the intention of sending saplings to be planted in major cities around the world. Also in 1998, a Mansfield resident was cautioned by the Nottinghamshire Police for selling alleged Major Oak acorns (including a certificate of authenticity) to unsuspecting Americans via an Internet-based mail-order company. On 1 October 2002, another news story broke about someone illegally selling acorns from the Major Oak on an Internet-based auction website.
In 2003, in Dorset a plantation was started of 260 saplings grown from acorns of the Major Oak. The purpose was to provide a focal point for an Internet-based study of the Major Oak, its history, photographic record, variation in size and leafing of the saplings, comparison of their DNA, and an eventual public amenity.
- Major Oak, Nottinghamshire County Council According to this estimate it began to grow in the 11th or 12th century AD.
- "Major Oak". Nottinghamshire County Council. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Illegal acorns for sale on net, BBC News, 2002-10-01
- references to Major Oak and Major Oak Day.
- Recorded information about the Major Oak on the Ancient Tree Hunt
- More information about the Major Oak
- Planting a new Oak Wood
- Full transcription of Remarkable Oaks by Hayman Rooke
- A drawing of Major Oak in 1790