The Oak
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The simple fact that the oak is the national tree of both Wales and England is enough to make it a national institution. But behind the choice lie a multitude of reasons that range through our history and our legends, illustrating our affinity for this most stately tree.
For the Druids the oak was, it seems, a sacred tree, their rituals practised in oak groves; and for the ordinary Celt it is said to have represented a portal to the next world. As a symbol of solidity and longevity special examples of the oak can be found in many places around Britain: perhaps the best known is the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest , linked with the Robin Hood story; but consider also The Royal Oak that sheltered Charles II from Cromwell ís forces after the Battle of Worcester (a tree whose descendent is still to be seen at Boscobel House ) and provides so many pubs with a name, and eight naval vessels; the Law Day Oak on the edge of Romney Marsh ; or The Queen Elizabeth Oak at Cowdray Park . The power of the oak as a symbol remains today, adopted by both The National Trust and The Conservative Party (now in rather blurry form for the latter).
The oak has played a very practical part in our history too: thus the wooden walls of old England, i.e. the navy, were built from our great oak forests (reducing them enormously in the process especially in Nelson ís day); and where would Scotlandís whisky industry be without oak barrels old (from Spain and America) and new?
As a national symbol the oak provides a neat shorthand for certain aspects of what we perceive as our identity: steadfastness and endurance, and something great arising from the tiny acorns of our islands. Immodest perhaps, but with enough evidence in our history to prevent it being laughable.

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On this day:
Einstein Produces Theory of Relativity - 1905, Gatwick Airport Opens - 1936, D-Day Landings - 1944, Beatles audition for George Martin - 1962
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