The Major Oak 
 
The Major Oak
By RACHEL DALBY
The Major Oak is thought to be the largest and oldest tree in Sherwood Forest.

It is situated in the wood's Birklands area, which gets its name from the large number of silver birches that grow there.

This area of the forest is perhaps the most popular with tourists, as there is an exhibition centre, a restaurant and a carpark. Many people believe as legend states that the Major Oak, with its hollow trunk, was Robin Hood's larder.

It is thought that he kept fine foods such as venison and berries there alongside treasures stolen from wealthy travellers.

Some say Robin Hood used to hide in the trunk to avoid being caught by the Sheriff of Nottingham's men.

The tree gets its name from Major Rooke, a Nottinghamshire antiquarian, who first identified and recorded it in a book in the late 18th Century.

The tree trunk has a circumference of about 33 feet and can easily accommodate ten people. It is about 90 feet high and the branches have a circumference of about 260 feet.

Despite its links with the legend of Robin Hood, it is thought that the tree is between 500 and 600 years old.

If this is correct it means that the tree did not start to grow until about 100 years after Robin Hood was believed to have died.

The Major Oak has lived much longer than the usual life-span of an oak and it is being monitored by scientists. The tree's branches are supported by huge wooden posts and chains and it has been fenced off from the public to protect its roots.

Visitors to the Birklands area of the forest are encouraged to buy ice-cream from a kiosk and enjoy a view of the Major Oak from one of several benches. An information panel in front of the tree explains its history.

 
 

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