Friday, 13 December 2013


About  trees
The Major Oak
Our ancient trees are also fascinating and one of the most famous is the 1000 years old Major Oak in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, made famous through the Robin Hood Legend.

Major Oak, Sherwood Forest
Perhaps England's most famous tree, the Major Oak is believed to be about 1,000 years old, and lives in Sherwood Forest. In popular mythology, the tree has many associations with Robin Hood and his outlaw band. Its species is Quercus robur or English Oak. Its ancient arms have been supported by cables, chains or posts, and protected by sheets of lead, since about 1900. Old photos LinkExternal link show it was once surrounded by open space and the earth trodden down by many visitors, leading to rain run-off and starvation of the tree. Recently it has been fenced off and mulch laid down to prevent this runoff, and the canopy is now much larger and healthier. Its girth was accurately measured in 1790 and comparison with today's girth indicates a growth rate of 1cm/year. Extrapolating back shows a planting date of about 1000 AD, in Saxon times. Many oak trees adopt this 'short and wide shape' when allowed to grow in the open.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright John Palmer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I am grateful to John Palmer for the use of his Geograph photograph and text.

The Capon Tree
The Capon Tree alongside the A68 road just 1 mile south of Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders is the last surviving tree of the former extensive Jed Forest which once clothed the Teviot Valley. This huge oak tree, 10 metres in circumference and 17 metres high, is said to be at least 500 years old. The trunk has split in two and the branches are supported but the tree remains alive. Local tradition says that it was once used as the local gallows. Another tradition which is still maintained is that involving the annual Callant’s Festival when a sprig from the tree is pinned to the Callant’s lapel as part of the ceremony. As part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the Tree Council designated this tree as one of fifty great British trees


This oak tree by the A68, called the Capon Tree, is one of the last survivors of the ancient Forest of Jed and is estimated to be in excess of 500 years old. The tree is propped up with sections of timber telegraph poles and members of the public are advised to approach at their own risk.

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

I am grateful to Walter Baxter for the use of his Geograph photograph and text.

The Knightswood Oak

In the New Forest we can see The Knightswood Oak which has a girth of 21ft and is said to be 600 years old, and also an old oak and beech tree which are fused together – known as inosculation, unusual in different tree species. 

The Knightswood Oak

The Lillington Oak

The Lillington Oak on the B4453 on the outskirts of Leamington Spa in Warwickshire is claimed to stand at the exact centre of England.


Churchyard Yews

Yew trees are a common sight in our churchyards.  The one in the churchyard of St Andrew’s church at Cornton Dundon in Somerset is said to be 1,700 years old,

 whilst the one in the churchyard at Fortingal in Tayside is reputed to be some 2,000 years old – One of the oldest living things in Europe. In 1769 it had a girth of 0ver 56ft but is now divided.

In the churchyard at Painswick in Gloucestershire there are at least 99 yew trees.  It is said that attempts to grow the one hundredth tree have always failed.

An avenue of 700 years old yew trees lead to the church at Nevern in Pembrokeshire, Wales. One of them is the famous ‘bleeding’ yew tree’ about which various legends exist. A blood red sap leaks from the trunk of the tree. One story has it that it bleeds for the wrongful hanging of a young man many years ago. Another says that it will bleed until the world is at peace.


The Tulip Tree

A very unusual tree – Liriodendron Tulipfera or Tulip Tree – stands proudly at the bottom of Tanhouse Road in Lostwithiel in Cornwall.   Orininating from the eastern U.S, it was planted there early in the 19th century and now stands 88 feet high.   It flowers in June.

Beech Tree Avenue

Some two miles of the B3082, on the approach to Wimborne Minster in Dorset, is lined by 365 beech trees, forming a spectacular avenue.  These trees were planted in 1835 by the nearby Kingston Lacy Hall Estate (N.T) – one for each day of the year!



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