The Midsummer Festival

In the Northern Hemisphere, the festival of Midsummer is traditionally celebrated at the time of the summer solstice, generally thought of a being on June 21st, though it can fall at any time between the 21st and 22nd, depending on the time zone you’re in. (Note that in the Southern Hemisphere, the June solstice is the Winter Solstice.)

The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin solsitium, or ‘sun stands still’ – the day when the sun appears to stand still as it reaches its highest point in the sky, an illusion which occurs because the Earth’s axis is tilted as far as it goes toward the sun on that day.

The Earth at the start of the four (astronomical) seasons, as seen from the north. Earth is far left at the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, far right for the southern hemisphere.
The Earth at the start of the four (astronomical) seasons, as seen from the north. Earth is far left at the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere, far right for the southern hemisphere. Author: Tau’olunga. Public Domain

In ancient times, the festival associated with the summer solstice was primarily a Celtic fire festival, representing the shortening days as they gradually headed back towards winter. The ancient ceremonies revolved around beliefs in the power of the sun, which was often revered as the sun god. People would flock to join in with the all-night festivities whilst awaiting the first light of dawn. Midsummer bonfires were lit in the belief that they would add strength to the sun’s energy. In some areas of Scotland, Midsummer fires were still being lit in the countryside well into the 18th century.

At Stonehenge, the sun rises over the ‘Heel Stone’ and is framed by the great trilithon stones of the main entrance. These pictures from my Stonehenge post show the Heel Stone and trilathons (megalithic structures consisting of two upright stones and a third across the top as a lintel).

This diagram below shows the alignment of the sun’s rays through the Heel Stone, which can be seen outside of the circle at the bottom:

Shortly after stones erected an earthwork was built around it. 2

The Christian Church designated June 24th as the feast day of St John the Baptist, and in the U.K, from the 13th century onwards, Midsummer’s Eve became known as Saint John’s Eve, though it was still celebrated by feasting and merrymaking, and the lighting of great bonfires. St John’s Wort was traditionally gathered on this day as it was thought to be imbued with the power of the sun, and several other plants were also thought to be more potent at this time. Such flowers would be placed beneath pillows in the hope of wonderful dreams, particularly about future lovers.

St John's Wort. Author: Michael H Lemmer. Creative Commons
St John’s Wort. Author: Michael H Lemmer. Creative Commons

Like that of many festivals, St John’s Eve was seen as a time when the veil between this world and the next thinned and powerful forces were free to wander. Careful watch was kept during the night and it was said that if you spent a night at a sacred site during Midsummer Eve, you would gain the powers of a bard (poet). But, it was also thought that people could end up totally mad, dead, or be spirited away by the fairies. Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream is based on the idea that fairies were about and at their most powerful on this night.

The summer solstice is still important to pagans today, and many of them celebrate it at great sites like Stonehenge and Avebury. Some head for other stone circles and ancient monuments or hold small ceremonies in open spaces … everywhere from gardens to woodlands. For witches the solstice forms one of the lesser sabbats – or sections of the wheel of the year – their main festivals being Beltane and Samhain.

Stonehenge is always the most popular site at both the summer and winter solstice, and there are several videos on YouTube for anyone interested. This video gives a very brief look at the summer solstice sunrise at Stonehenge in 2015. I haven’t added the actual video to my post because I’ve no idea about copyright – and I really don’t fancy a massive fine!

http://www.onenewspage.com/video/20150621/3003464/Summer-solstice-Spectacular-sunrise-at-Stonehenge.htm

Though many of the original traditions no longer exist, some were brought back during the 20th century. Midsummer bonfires are still lit on some high hills in Cornwall, a tradition that was revived by the Old Cornwall Society in the early 20th century.

Traditional Cornish hilltop bonfire on Midsummer Eve, 2009. Author: Talskiddy at en.wikipedia. Creative Commons
Traditional Cornish hilltop bonfire on Midsummer Eve, 2009. Author: Talskiddy at en.wikipedia. Creative Commons

Naturally, different countries have their own traditions, and this post would go on forever if I attempted to work through them all. The many Midsummer celebrations held in the United States are mostly derived from the cultures of immigrants who arrived from various European nations since the 19th century.

I’ll finish with a quick word about Scandinavia, where the festival of Midsummer is celebrated as much as Christmas. In Sweden, it is a national holiday called Midsommar. Houses are decorated inside and out with wreaths and flowers and people then dance around a decorated midsummer pole while listening to traditional folk songs known to all. As in many other countries, the Midsummer festivities include bonfires and divining the future, especially one’s future partner or spouse.

Midsummer celebrations at Årsnäs, started in 1963 at an international community on the west coast of Sweden, near Kode. Date: June, 1969. Family photo of Karim Aasma and Felix Aasma. Uploaded by Mikael Haggsstron. Creative Commons
Midsummer celebrations at Årsnäs, started in 1963 at an international community on the west coast of Sweden, near Kode. Date: June, 1969. Family photo of Karim Aasma and Felix Aasma. Uploaded by Mikael Haggsstron. Creative Commons

Refs.
Mysterious Britain and Ireland
Wikipedia
BBC
The Midsumme.co.uk
Office Holidays
Time: Summer Solstice

Happy Father’s Day 2016

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I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that today is Father’s Day in many countries around the world. Many of us will have been out there this past week, hunting around the shops for gifts or making last-minute bookings at restaurants and such like. Well, this year, we’re all heading out for an evening meal in Lincoln. Our youngest son is once again abroad – for work! – this time in sunny Antigua, so he’ll be missed, yet again.  😦

Last year I wrote about the various customs attached to this day, and how it all started over there in the U.S. so, as nothing has changed about that, I thought I’d just repost it, with a few words more relevant to this year.

This image, courtesy of Pixabay, is particularly applicable to my husband, who was a motorbike fanatic in his youth – thankfully, before I met him!

happy-fathers-day-1456605_640

In the United Kingdom, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, in keeping with the United States, where the custom originated, and many other parts of the world. This is in contrast to Mothers’ Day, which has a very different history in the U.S. and the U.K. (Happy Mother’s Day) and is celebrated on different dates.

Father’s Day is a day to honour fathers and father figures, including grandfathers and fathers-in-law. Many people make a special effort to visit their fathers or to send them a card or gifts. As for Mothers’ Day in Britain, children spend time making their own cards, and gifts tend to be similar to those many dads get for Christmas – socks, slippers, ties, items of clothing or perhaps a mug with a slogan like ‘The World’s Best Dad’ or simply ‘Dad’ written on it. T-shirts, mouse mats, bags and T-shirts with photographs of the children printed on them are also reasonably popular. As for giving flowers, in the U.S. fathers were traditionally given the gift of white or red roses. The rose is the official flower for Father’s Day.

shutterstock_141520969

Wearing a red rose signifies a living father, while a white one represents a deceased father. I haven’t heard of roses being given here in the U.K. but that doesn’t mean the custom isn’t observed at all.

For some dads in the U.K. Father’s Day can be a day for being taken out and treated to a pint or two down at the pub. Some families make more of things and the ‘treat’ could be a meal out somewhere special, or one of the popular ‘Father’s Day’ experiences, like driving a rally car, tank, fire engine, or even an aeroplane. Some children pay for Dad to have a golf, football or cricket lesson with a celebrity coach.

A father holding a necktie cookie on Father's Day. Author: Dean Michaud, originally posted on Flickr, terms compatible with Commons.
A father holding a necktie cookie on Father’s Day. Author: Dean Michaud, originally posted on Flickr, terms compatible with Commons.

There are two versions regarding the origins of Father’s Day in the United States. Some people maintain that it was first introduced in 1910 by a woman called Sonora Smart Dodd who was inspired by the work of Anna Jarvis, the woman who had pushed for Mother’s Day celebrations. Sonora’s father raised six children by himself after the death of their mother, which was uncommon at that time, as many widowers placed their children in the care of others or quickly married again. So Sonora felt that her father deserved recognition for what he’d done. The first Father’s Day was held in June 1910, and was officially recognised as a holiday in 1972 by President Nixon.

Sonora Smart Dodd. Image from Wikipedia.
Sonora Smart Dodd. Image from Wikipedia.

Others in the U.S. say that Grace Golden Clayton from Fairmont, West Virginia, should be credited with the idea of Father’s Day, after she suggested a day to celebrate fatherhood in 1908, following the anguish of the Monongah mine disaster in December 1907. Officially, 362 men died, in that disaster, 250 of them fathers, leaving more than a thousand children without a dad. It was America’s worst mining ­accident. Most of the men were Italian migrants and the actual death toll is estimated at nearer 500.

Grace Golden Clayton, whose father was killed in the tragedy, suggested a service of commemoration for this lost generation to the pastor of her local Methodist chapel, and the first Father’s Day took place on July 5, 1908. But Grace’s idea didn’t spread outside this isolated mining settlement. It took off two years later, after Sonora Smart Dodd’s campaign – only to fall into disuse soon after until the 1930s, when it slowly gained official recognition. President Richard Nixon proclaimed it a national holiday in 1972.

I must confess that until I looked this up last year, I didn’t know the origins of Father’s Day in the U.S. I knew the custom started in America but, like many other people, I assumed it was either another money making racket on behalf of the gift and card industry, or a way of keeping things equal with Mother’s Day – which is partly true.

In our house, the children usually come round with presents around lunchtime. The usual gifts from our sons is some type of malt whisky, although there will often be a box of chocolates as well. The girls, Louise and Nicola, tend to go for something from the Garden Centre – or vouchers for him to spend there, as he’s an avid gardener. Our youngest son, who works in various places abroad, generally sends some kind of plant via Interflora or suchlike. We have lots of  plants and flower in our garden that started life in wicker baskets, and they’re doing very nicely.

One last note or two…

In Germany, Father’s Day (Vatertag) or Men’s Day (Männertag)  is celebrated differently from other parts of the world. Groups of men go off into the woods with a wagon of beer, wines and meats. Heavy drinking is common on that day and traffic accidents tend to rise, causing police and emergency services to be on high alert. Some right-wing and feminist groups have asked for the banning of the holiday. Father’s day with a kick, I’d say!

A Hiking Tour on Father’s Day. Author: Steffen Gebbhart at Wikimedia. Public Domain

In China, Father’s Day used to be on August 8. This was because the Chinese word for 8 is ‘ba’ and the colloquial word for father is ‘ba-ba’. It has now been moved to the third week in June to keep in line with other countries.

Refs:

http://www.findmeagift.co.uk/fathers-day-gifts/history.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father%27s_Day

The Cheddar Gorge

Along the Gorge ABefore I plunge into writing up some posts about Cornwall from our holiday last week, I thought I’d better finish off some of the ones I still have to do from our stay in Somerset a few weeks’ ago. (Too many holidays to keep up with at the moment!) This post is about one of the sites we’d been intending to visit for years – and I’m very glad we eventually made it there. Oddly enough, at the mention of the Cheddar Gorge, most people’s minds turn to cheese. And rightly so.

The Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England and is located on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills near to the village of Cheddar in Somerset. (x marks the spot!)

Location of the county of Somerset. Source; Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilfanion. Creative Commons
Location of the county of Somerset. Source; Ordnance Survey OpenData. Author: Nilfanion. Creative Commons

The Gorge’s limestone cliffs rise to 450 feet and the scenery along it is quite beautiful, as well as dramatic. It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It has been inhabited since the end of the last Ice Age and today, visitors come from all over the world simply to admire the scenery, climb the near-vertical cliffs or cycle along the steep gradients of the road that runs through it (the B1315). Cavers come to explore the many caves, the two largest of which are stalactite caverns and open to the general public.

This handsome, 9,000-year-old chap can be seen in Gough’s Cavern (he’s not a real skeleton, of course – just a replica. :)) His name is Cheddar Man, whose real skeleton was found in this cave in 1903. I’ll be writing about the two caves in my next post.

Gough's Cave 1 ++

Ownership of the Gorge is shared by two parties. The south side (where most of the visitor attractions, including the two caves and several tea rooms and cafés, are) is owned and administered by the Marquess of Bath’s Longleat Estate. The north side, where the striking rocks of the Gorge tower alongside the road, is owned by the National Trust.

Here’s a very simple description from AboutBritain.com of how the Gorge was formed:

The Gorge was formed about three million years ago when a small river cut through the soft limestone. Thaws of subsequent ice ages increased the flow at times to produce this spectacular natural attraction. You can still see the benign-looking river which now flows underground and appears at the foot of the Gorge.

On arrival at the site, we decided to do what many visitors do, and take an open-top bus ride trough the gorge.  So we headed for the car park to wait for the bus, which runs back and forth quite frequently.

Car park for catching Gorge tour bus +

Naturally, this guided tour isn’t free, but the cost does include entry to the two caves and the little museum as well. The bus turns around at a point a short distance past the touristy area, and allows us to see the stunning Gorge cliff s without the shops and other buildings. At that point, we got off the bus to walk back, visit the caves and generally enjoy the attractions on offer.

These are just a few of the photos we took from the bus. I bet you can’t miss the friendly lion:

Wildlife in the Gorge includes dormice, yellow-necked mice, slow worms, adders and rare blue butterflies. Many bats inhabit the caves and on the rocky slopes, goats can just be seen (if your eyesight is good!). The ones we spotted were too distant to see clearly:

Cheddar Gorge Goats 1

So here’s a close up picture from Wikipedia:

Cheddar Gorge goat 1

The goats have been  introduced as part of a programme to encourage the biodiversity of the area. A flock of feral sheep also graze the slopes. There are also many species if birds, including peregrine falcons, kestrels and buzzards and too many species of flora to mention, other than to say that many are chalk grassland-loving species.

We had lunch at one of the many ‘eateries’ . . .

Wishing Well Tea Room (View from road 3 +. . . and in the afternoon, we headed up Jacob’s Ladder. This is a series of 274 steps which takes visitors up to a stunning cliff-top walk:

Jacob'sLadder 2

The clifftop walk is three-miles long and there are excellent views of the Gorge as well as further afield from up there. There is also an observation tower (more steps for my knees to complain about) with 360 degree views. Here are a few of the photos we took from the clifftop. Not all are from the observation tower:

To finish off with, here are just some of the many things to see as you walk along the road:

And, really, really finally this time, a quick word about cheese. 🙂

The village of Cheddar is the home of the original Cheddar cheese. It has been produced here since at least the 15th century (earliest mention of Cheddar cheese in 1170) and left to mature in the caves, with their cool and constant temperatures. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, unsurprisingly, is located further along the Gorge than we went, and cheeses can still be seen today, maturing inside Gough’s Cavern. Now, Cheddar cheese is made all over the world. And I’m not surprised at that because it’s very yummy!

Fancy a Cornish Pasty . . . ?

Cornish pasties at Cornish bakehouse
Cornish Pasties at a Cornish bakehouse. Author Gvjekoslav. Creative Commons

This past week, Nick and I have been down in Cornwall, along with our blogging daughter Louise (thestorytellersabode). We both intend to post about some of the great sites we’ve visited down here once we get home but for now, I just want to say a few words about this lovely county and share a few photos of the main images of the place.

I also want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to staunch Cornishman  and fellow blogger draliman for meeting up with us and having a lovely chat and evening meal. It was really nice, as both Lou and I have laughed our heads off at some of Ali’s hilarious stories for months. It was just a pity we didn’t think to take any photos.

Cornwall – or Kernow, as it’s known to the Cornish people – is situated in the far south-west of the United Kingdom:

Cornwall_UK_locator_map_2010.svg
Location of Cornwall. Source: O.S. Survey Opendata. Author: Nilfanion. Creative Commons

The region has been inhabited since the Paleolithic (or Stone Age, dating from 2.5 million – 20,000 years ago) and Mesolithic periods, through the Neolithic and Bronze age, and eventually the Iron Ages (around 800 BC onwards). At this time, Cornwall, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was inhabited by a Celtic people known as the Britons. Cornwall itself was home to a tribe of Britons known as the Dumnonii.

England_Celtic_tribes_-_South
Image depicting the Celts of South England pre-Roman Britain times. Author: Yorkshirian at English Wikipedia. Creative Commons

There is little evidence of Roman rule west of Exeter in neighbouring Devon, and later on, in the 9th century, Cornwall often came into conflict with the expanding Anglo Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

For many people from other parts of the UK, Cornwall can seem a rather distant county, one popular with holidaymakers, who all have different images of what the county looks like, or is like in everyday life. The word ‘Cornish’ alone can conjure up many different images. Here are just some of them:

1. Picturesque fishing villages and harbours

2. Old tin mines (as in ‘Poldark’) and later on, copper mines as well

3. China clay (kaolin) mines

4. Lovely beaches, surfers and steep, rocky coasts with caves – and smugglers (as in ‘Jamaica Inn’ and ‘Poldark’).

5. Cornish Pasties, Cornish ice cream and Cornish cream teas (all very yummy!)

Cornish cream tea
Cornish Cream Tea at Boscastle, prepared in the Devonshire Method. Author: Tuxraider, reloaded at English Wikimedia. GNU Free Documentation License.

6. Iron age villages sites,  standing stones and barrows

7. Tintagel – legendary castle of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

8. Saint Michael’s Mount – island and castle at the end of a ‘sometime’ causeway

9. Beautiful gardens

10. Penzance – a town associated with the opera, ‘The Pirates of Penzance’

11. Nice warm (but sometimes wet) summers and mild winters

12. Moorlands (like Bodmin Moor) and granite tors

13.  The Eden Project. We visited this site some years ago (2003) so haven’t any photos on this occasion. So here’s a picture from Wikipedia:

Eden Project near St. Austell, Cornwall UK.
The Eden Project, established in 2,000 in Cornwall, England. A modern, botanical garden, exploring the theme of sustainability. Author: A 1 personage at en,wikipedia. Public Domain

So, until I post about some of these places in more detail, here are a few photos, giving a  further glimpse of this beautiful and unique county:

Sherwood Through the Ages

King John's Camp ++

This is my second post about our visit to Sherwood Forest last Monday, which was mostly to enjoy the many encampments and historical reenactments there over the Bank Holiday weekend. I’d intended to do just a single post, but found that one would have been far too long. So in the first post I wrote about Sherwood Forest itself and its connections to the legendary Robin Hood.

Today, I’d like to share some of the photos of the events from this fun-filled day. The event itself was called ‘Sherwood Through the Ages’ and if you’d like to see some much better photos than mine, hop over to my daughter, Louise’s post at thestorytellersabode. Reenactment groups from several historical periods between the 12th century and the 1980s were present, as well as the odd tent with items of clothing and other period items:

The different encampments  were spread out along the main pathways so they couldn’t be missed. There were interesting things to see all day, including demonstrations  of skills and reenactments of events. But even whilst the reenactors were in their camps and carrying on their roles, they were happy to interact with visitors, answer questions and demonstrate the use of weapons and equipment.

Amongst the encampments we saw were the Bowden Retinue, a medieval group whose main theme was that of escorting ‘the lady’ on her journey, and ensuring her comfort at ever stage. This group put on a demonstration of archery which, unfortunately we mostly missed, except for the very end, when they were collecting up their arrows!

Bowden Retinue Collecting Arrows =

Other medieval groups included the ‘Crusader’ camp of King John and his knights – which also included Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the Hospitaller Knights of St. John and even a few unfortunates who had returned from the Crusades with leprosy . . .

. . . and the camp of the Wars of the Roses troop (15th century):

Reenactment groups from later historical periods included the Redcoat Scots and Jacobites (1745):

. . . and the Highwaymen who preyed on unfortunate travellers on their journey along the Great North Road as it passed through the heart of Sherwood Forest ((17th-18th centuries):

Jumping to the 20th century, we have a group of British soldiers from WW1:

WW1 Forces A

And bringing us up to more recent times was a group of British soldiers from the 1980s:

To finish with, here are just three of the short videos we made. The first two show King John’s attempts to find a champion who was good enough to go after the ‘villainous’ outlaw Robin Hood. Several pairs of knights come head to head, and this is one of them:

And in this short video, Robert of Loxley (aka Robin Hood) – who had just stolen the Sheriff of Nottingham’s armour in order to compete – takes on the unpopular Sir Guy of Gisbourne:

The Scots Redcoats and Highland Jacobites entertained us with two reenactments during the day. One involved demonstrating how a man’s honour was satisfied by duelling. We didn’t film this, but here are a couple of photos of this event:

In this video, the Jacobites are ready and waiting to fight the approaching Redcoat Scots:

*****

A Day at Sherwood Forest

Robin Hood and Little John 2+

Last Monday was a Bank Holiday in the UK and Nick and I, with our two daughters, Nicola and Louise, and grandson, Kieran, headed off to Sherwood Forest – about 27 miles away from where we live. Several events and activities are held at Sherwood during the year, some with historical themes, others with environmental or conservational ones. This weekend’s events were all distinctly historical, involving encampments and displays, and a number of short re-enactments from various groups. But I can’t bring myself to write a post about the events without first adding some information about this lovely forest – or what’s left of it – today.

Sherwood Forest is located at Edwinstowe in the county of Nottinghamshire, 17 miles north of Nottingham. It was once an area of woodland and heath that covered 100,000 acres (156 square miles), amounting to one fifth of Nottinghamshire. It was first established as a royal hunting preserve in the 10th century, the remnants of which later became known as Birklands (originally burchlands) – so named after the birch trees growing there.

This map from Wikipedia shows the locations of some of the major royal forests in 13th century England:

Royal.Forests Map
Royal Forests 1327-1336 (names of selected forests). Based on I.G. Simmons’ ‘The Moorlands of England and Wales). Author: Own Work, ISBN 074860

Throughout the centuries, these expanses of forest became dangerous places to enter. Not only were wild boar living in there, but outlaws gathered in their depths to keep out of the way of capture – which would mean hanging, or mutilation of some sort, for their crimes. (The word, ‘outlaw’ is simply derived from the idea of people living ‘outside the law’.)

The Great North Road (the main London-Scotland road) ran through Sherwood Forest and control of it during the Civil War became imperative to both sides. Later, in the 18th and 19th centuries in particular, highwaymen hid in the trees, waiting for travellers and making it a perilous route. (One of the encampments over the weekend belonged to a gang of highwaymen.)

Sherwood Forest is now a 450 acre Country Park, with a fascinating ecosystem – and a host of environmental/protected site designations. It is a Grade 1 site for ancient woodland and heathland, an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) an NRA (National Nature Reserve) and an SAC (Special Area of Conservation). Entry to Sherwood Forest is free, but there is a car parking fee of £3 – which can be reclaimed on purchase in the café or in the visitor centre/gift shop (where you can buy a great bow and arrow to play with or a nice green hat with a feather in it to wear.)

Sherwood Forest is best known for its associations with one of the best known outlaws of medieval times: Robin Hood (or Robin Hode) . . .

Statue of Robin Hood +

Robin Hood/Robert of Loxley was a late-12th century outlaw who ‘robbed the rich to give to the poor’. Actually who this character was has been the subject of many long debates. He has been linked to the Green Man, Jack of the Green and Herne the Hunter (who could be all the same character) amongst others, and I do intend to do a post about all this at some stage. Robin’s story has been changed and added to over the centuries, but the basic storyline stays the same. It has become particularly well-known over the last century due to the many films and TV series about him. At the exit to the Robin Hood Exhibition there is a wall display showing some of these productions:

Film and Tv productions of 'Robin Hood' 3

And these are just a few of the scenes actually inside the Exhibition:

Sherwood attracts between 360, 000 and one million visitors per year, many of them from other countries. Each year, the reserve hosts the week-long Robin Hood Festival – a great event with a really medieval atmosphere and featuring the main characters from the Robin Hood legend. Entertainments include jousters, and players, plus a medieval encampment with jesters, musicians, rat catchers, alchemists and fire eaters.

But visitors also come to Sherwood throughout the year to visit the Forest itself. There are over 900 ‘veteran’ oak trees here, including England’s Tree of the Year for 2014, The Major Oak – which is a pedunculate or English common oak.  Naturally, other species grow here, too – birch being the predominant one. First, here are a few photos of the forest, including some of the many old oaks and some of the wood carvings dotted along the paths. I have to admit that the first tree in the gallery is my favourite. Look at those big, brawny arms – although he is rather two-faced, don’t you think . . . ?

And this is the really ‘Big Man’ of the Forest, The Major Oak:

Major Oak 2 (2) +

According to folklore, the Major Oak was Robin Hood’s principal hideout. It is believed to be between 800 and 1000 years old and since Victorian times its great, heavy boughs have been supported by elaborate scaffolding. Whether or not this tree really would have had a trunk sturdy and wide enough for a man to hide inside in the late 12th/early 13th century is debatable – but hey, this is folklore we’re talking about. There could well have been some oak old enough at the time for Robin to have hidden inside.

I’m told that clones of this awesome tree are being attempted through grafting and acorns are also being grown. Apparently, any saplings produced will be sent to various countries around the world.

Next time, I’ll post some photos of the different historical groups and characters we encountered in Sherwood on Bank Holiday Monday. It was certainly a colourful and entertaining day.

Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre 1
Sherwood Forest visitor centre sign. Author: Marcin Floryan. Creative Commons.