I came across this article about what is purported to be Britain’s oldest living tree. The tree is about 4 000 years old. I was going to read the article and then probably forget it. But I noted that it was a yew tree.
Yew trees are noted as being one of the best woods to make a bow from. From the title I gave, you are probably one step ahead of me and have already figured that this tree would have been around in the time of Robin Hood.
Now Sherwood Forest (Robin Hood’s stomping grounds) and Somerset (where this tree is to be found) are quite far away from each other by British standards. But I’ve heard rumours that the real, historical Robin Hood might have been well traveled enough to have traveled deep into continental Europe. So it is more than possible that Robin Hood or any of his merry men could have crafted a bow from this very tree. Indeed the act may have helped contribute to the tree’s huge age.
I live in southern Ontario and the oldest trees here are hardscrabble ones along the rocky Niagara Escarpment (yes the escarpment is what makes the famous falls). They, too, have lived for thousands of years. Indeed, the harsher living conditions are believed to have contributed to their longevity.
So would it be any surprise to a gardener, that pruning a plant or tree might add to its longevity. Removing one branch for a bow from this old yew tree might have been exactly like gardening and allowed the tree to live until our time. So making a bow from this tree could be like giving to the future.
How would Robin Hood or the merry men have stolen from the rich then?
Well back in Robin’s time many of the forests were protected by being royal forests. Commoners weren’t allowed to hunt in royal forests. Indeed they weren’t allowed to fell trees or carry weapons. So it is likely that making a bow out of part of a tree would be called stealing by the aristocrats.
So Robin Hood and his merry men might have stolen from the rich, via this Somerset tree, and helped it live to our time.