'Robin Hood' Major Oak wins Tree of the Year competition

Image source, Phil Lockwood
Image caption,
The Major Oak's branches spread over 92ft (28m)

An oak said to be associated with the Robin Hood legend has won England's first Tree of the Year competition.

The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire, took 18% of the votes in the poll run by the Woodland Trust.

The tree, which weighs an estimated 23 tonnes, is thought to be between 800 and 1,000 years old.

Old Knobbley, in Essex, came second in the poll and Ickwell Oak, in Bedfordshire, came in third place.

Image source, Phil Lockwood
Image caption,
The Major Oak's trunk circumference is 33ft (10m) at its widest part

The Major Oak will now represent England in the European Tree of the Year contest, run by the Environmental Partnership Association, which takes place in February 2015.

The Woodland Trust wants a national register to protect important trees, similar to how historic buildings are protected.

Trust chief executive Beccy Speight said: "The number of votes and amount of interest this contest has generated really demonstrate how much people love their trees and I can't think of a better representative for England than the Major Oak."

Image source, Phil Lockwood
Image caption,
The Major Oak has supports to prevent branches coming down
Image source, Nottinghamshire County Council
Image caption,
Some people say the figure of Friar Tuck appears on the trunk when it snows
Image source, Woodland Trust
Image caption,
The Major Oak took 18% of the 12,719 votes, cast over just eight days

Councillor John Knight, committee chairman for culture at Nottinghamshire County Council, said the Major Oak was one of the "most iconic trees worldwide".

"We are rightly proud of our famous tree," he said.

"Legend has it that it was the hideout for Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and the Major Oak is a fascinating natural habitat."

More than 200 nominations were whittled down to a shortlist of 10, with the finalists being seven oaks, two yews and an apple tree.

From 'The Major's Oak' to Major Oak

Image source, Provided by Notts County Council
Image caption,
Pantomime actors Barney Harwood, Su Pollard and David Hasselhoff all received saplings of the Major Oak last December
  • Because of its national importance, conservation measures to the tree have been carried out continually since 1908.
  • Steel poles prop the sprawling limbs and tree surgeons check the oak periodically, carrying out remedial work as needed.
  • The earliest recorded name for the tree, dating back to the mid 18th Century, was the Cockpen Tree.
  • The hollow interior is said to have been used to pen cockerels ready to be used for cock fighting. Later it was known as the Queen Oak.
  • In 1790, Major Hayman Rooke, a noted antiquarian from Mansfield Woodhouse, included the tree in his popular book about the ancient oaks of Sherwood. It therefore became known as The Major's Oak, and later simply The Major Oak.
  • Actor David Hasselhoff was presented with a sapling grown from one of its acorns when he appeared in pantomime in Nottingham a year ago.

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