The Major Oak - Sherwood Forest - In Words and Pictures.
The Major Oak, England's finest living National Monument was first known as the Cockpen tree or Queen Oak. Facts > estimated weight 23 Tons, Girth 33 feet, and a spread of 92 feet and 800-1000 years old. The Oak is a Pedunculate Oak and was probably the result of Pollarding, i.e. the joining of two or more saplings to form a more substantial tree body.
The Oak still bears Acorns. and is coming into leaf as I write this 25/04/2009. In 2002 it was designated by the Tree Council as one of the fifty most Great British Trees.
As a celebration of the first Major Oak Day I have released two Images of the Major Oak never seen before shot in the Infrared spectrum > Here
Above The trunk as it is to-day. The first recorded pictures below.
The Major's Oak as it appeared in Major General Hayman Rookes Book Published in 1790 Remarkable Oaks in the park of Welbeck in the County of Nottingham
There has been some controversy about the image portrayed in the Major's book as to whether or not it is actually the Major's Oak or not. However when the engraving is reversed you can make a comparison with the coloured postcard shown below. It is possible that between the Major's drawing pad, the engravers rendition of the drawing and the printing press the image could have been flipped. Taking into account we are looking at a time differential of about two hundred years, the comparison is now very real.
The cavity in the body of the Major Oak was formed by a Fungi and is now treated on a regular basis, you can even note the healing process year by year, it is possible that very soon the cavity could close up. May the Gods protect us from some bright spark who will then want to open up the cavity again, claiming it is affecting tourist figures.
Noticed the first 1am shot of the Oak, cannot remember to exact day but I do remember walking back to my car after the session was cut short with my cameras freezing up. Carrying the tripod on my shoulder back to the car my hand was in such dreadful pain due to the freezing cold conditions, but looking at the shot now it was worth it.
During the past hundred years the Major Oak has needed some help, wooden timbers were installed under the branches to support the tree, lead sheeting installed over some of the branches, Iron chains attached to heavy steel bands were installed high up in the tree as further support, these chains and bands are still there to-day. I can remember as a youngster walking around the Oak and even attempting to get inside the tree cavity, it was not that large, and as for being Robin Hood's hideout, my first reaction was " You must be joking". Later the public were excluded from approaching the Oak by a fence in 1975, the ground being tilled and bark chips placed down to allow ground water to reach the roots. Steel props replaced the wooded timbers in 1985.
The tree has survived being axed for Warships, Cathedral spars, Two World Wars, an Arson attack in 1983 which took two days to put out and was eventually extinguished by filling the trunk cavity with foam, and even a cheap and nasty Charity prank. At the turn of the century ( 1900 ) it had a Tree Warden appointed from the Thoresby Estate to protect it. Various people have tried to sell parts of the tree or Acorns claiming they are genuine, all have been nabbed by the County Council and successfully prosecuted.
The tree is now the subject of a tree protection order ( TPO ), any work that has to be carried out has to be subject to approval by the planners..
The Order gives the tree protection from Criminal damage etc, any person so caught causing any harm whatsoever to the Oak can expect to face some serious charges.
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