The Major Oak is located a 10-15 minute walk through the woods from Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre near the village of Edwinstowe.
There is a surfaced path to the Major Oak and it is signed from the Visitor Centre.
You can visit the Major Oak at any time that the nearby Visitor Centre is open (10.00am - 5pm Summer, 10.30am - 4.30pm Winter).
There is a fence around the famous tree in order to prevent visitors' feet from compressing the ground over the tree's roots. This will help ensure the tree stays healthy for many years to come.
Type of tree
The Major Oak is a Quercus Robur, the English or pendunculate oak.
This forest veteran is a huge oak tree thought to be around 800 years old. In a 2002 survey, it was voted “Britain’s favourite tree”.
According to local lore, its hollow trunk was used as a hideout by Robin Hood’s men, though if Robin was – as legend suggests – active in the 12th or 13th century, this tree could only have been a sapling then. So it must have been another, much older oak that hid the outlaw.
Today, the world famous tree weighs an estimated 23 tonnes, its trunk circumference is 33 feet (10m) and its branches spread to over 92 feet (28m).
About the name
The earliest recorded name for this remarkable oak, 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 in the now illegal sport of 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 thus became known as The Major‘s Oak, and later simply The Major Oak.
Because of its national importance, conservation measures to the tree have been carried out continually since 1908.
In Edwardian times, metal chains were used to support its weighty branches, and lead sheet attached to protect the trunk.
In the late seventies, these measures were replaced by large wooden struts, supporting the heaviest branches.
Today, slender steel poles prop the sprawling limbs of this forest giant. Tree surgeons check the oak periodically and carry out remedial work as needed.