The Future of Sherwood’s Past

The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project Logo

The Major Oak: Icon of Medieval Sherwood Forest - Robin Hood’s Hideaway!

Mercian Archaeological Services Community Archaeology The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project

Visitors since 7th November 2013

Mercian Archaeological Services CIC

Community Archaeology in the East Midlands,

 Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire, Excavation, Research, Volunteering, Community

    Archaeology Derbyshire, Training, Social, Learning, Community Archaeology Leicestershire,

    Heritage, Involvement, Belonging, Knowledge sharing, Community Archaeology Lincolnshire,

    Topographic Survey, Talks and Presentations, Outreach, Archaeology Projects , Open

    Days, Schools, Finds Processing, Day Schools, Field Schools, Young People, Archaeology

    and History of Sherwood Forest, Pottery Research, Medieval, Roman, Prehistoric, Community

    Interest Company, Community Archaeology Nottinghamshire.

© Mercian Archaeological Services CIC 2013.                           Registered Business No. 08347842.                                All Rights Reserved.

Community Archaeology in Nottinghamshire

Community Archaeology in Derbyshire

Community Archaeology in Leicestershire

Community Archaeology East Midlands

Community Archaeology in Lincolnshire

Click here for more ‘Stories from the Forest’…

Click on the image above to help sponsor the project

The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project is a Community Project sponsored by the community for the community. Please consider supporting us and our work.

Home About us Services Testimonials Projects Publications Staff Contact 
Sherwood Forest History

Click on the image below to see the project blog:

Robin Hood Town Tours
Info 4 Groups Talks and Tours Experience Days Heritage Bus Tours Field Schools Sherwood Forest Notts 1000 Shop


Award Winners 2016

for "Engaging people in the heritage, history & archaeology of Sherwood Forest".

Official Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project T-Shirt for just £9.99 +p&p

Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project T-Shirt Sherwood Forest Archaeoogy Project Mug

Official Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project Coffee Mug for just £8.50 +p&p

World-wide Robin Hood Society

Robin Hood Society Feather in Your Cap Award 2016

The Major Oak is an icon of Medieval Sherwood Forest.

Reputedly the hide away of Robin Hood, and said to be up to 1000 years old!

the Major Oak: Icon of Medieval Sherwood Forest hideaway of Robin Hood

This ancient and magnificent oak tree is at the heart of Birklands and Bilhaugh woods- crown woods situated in the 'High Forest' area of Sherwood in Medieval times.

The tree stands on the eastern boundary of Birklands wood, at the western edge of Gleadthopre open- an area of heath that separates Birklands from Bilhaugh wood.

It may well have been a 'boundary oak' of Birklands wood in Medieval times.

These two woods now form the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve near Edwinstowe in Nottinghamshire.

It was named after Major Hayman Rooke a local antiquarian who recorded the ancient oaks of Sherwood Forest in the late 18th century.

Map regression and investigation by the author of this site: Archaeologist Andy Gaunt (Gaunt & Gillott 2011) has turned up an interesting fact worthy of note regarding Major Rooke and the Major Oak.

‘A plan of the hays of Birkland and Bilhagh within the Forest of Sherwood in the County of Nottingham belonging to the crown’. Surveyed in the year 1791 by John Renshaw following an Act of Parliament in the 26th year of George III shows ‘a tree called Major Rooke’ (Nichols 1987).

The map is preserved at the Nottingham Archives as NRO ED 4 L.

It is possible that this is the earliest reference to the Major Oak bearing that name.

Rooke’s publication ’Remarkable Oaks’ was not published until 1790.

It was Rooke’s association with this tree and the fame it gathered following his publications that helped the link to become established.

Previously the tree had been known by a number of names.

It should also be noted that on the slightly later map of Birklands and Bilhaugh surveyed by James Dowland for inclusion in Rookes own 1799 publication ‘A Sketch of the Ancient and Present State of Sherwood Forest in the County of Nottingham’ the tree is unnamed (Rooke 1799). (Gaunt & Gillott 2011).

See the Archaeology of Birklands and Bilhaugh: Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve for more details and for information on the archaeology of the woods

Before it was known as the Major Oak it was called the 'cockpen tree' because it was reputedly used to house fighting cocks.

It has also gone by the name the 'Queen's Oak'.

The tree now forms the main tourist attraction at the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and is visted by millions of people.

Having stood for nearly a thousand years, it has seen its fair share of history and certainly deserves the title of iconic.

 Project page links:


 Project Home page


 About the Project


 Funding the Project


 Project Partner Organisations


 Project Sponsors


 Robin Hood Challenges






 Finds Processing


 Bus Tours - Outreach


 King John’s Palace


 Robin Hood’s Village




 Battle of Hatfield


 St Edwin’s Chapel


 Clipstone Village Dig


 Medieval Sherwood Map




 Links page


 About Sherwood Forest


 Forest Law


 Why Sherwood Forest?


 Boundaries of Sherwood


 Landscape of Sherwood


 Outlaws & Villains


 Stories from the Forest