On this day in history : 15th December 1982 – The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest – reputed to have been Robin Hood’s tree – is fitted with a fire alarm….

The Major Oak, an English oak (Quercus robur), is the largest oak tree in Britain and can be found in the heart of Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, not far from the Nottinghamshire village of Edwinstowe…. It is estimated to be between 800 and 1,000 years old – and has a canopy spread of 92ft (28m) and a girth of 33ft (10m)…. It weighs an estimated 23 tons and can produce some 150,000 acorns in a good year…. In 1908 chains had to be added to help support the tree and in the 1970s support beams were put up to help hold up the sprawling branches…. These beams were reinforced with metal in the 2000s…. It was fenced off in the 1970s as the thousands of footsteps of visitors compounding the surrounding ground were damaging the tree’s roots…. It is estimated around 350,000 visit the oak each year….

Over the centuries the Major Oak has survived storms, wars and deforestation…. Legend has it that it once sheltered Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men…. The trunk has a hollow interior that is big enough to climb inside – it was within here that in 1982 vandals lit a fire – and so as a future precaution a fire alarm was fitted to the tree…. Then, in the July of 2020, whilst the country was in ‘lockdown’ during the COVID-19 pandemic, vandals struck again…. A 3ft chunk of bark was ripped from the trunk by somebody climbing on the ancient oak…. Local people branded the vandalism as sacrilege…..

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