The Oak tree is the royal counterpart to the Beech tree, also known as ‘The King of Trees’, ruling our British landscape alongside one another. In ancient Celtic Lore this tree was often referred to as ‘The Father of the woods’, ruling alongside its queen. 

This wood commands respect, holding so much history in its grain, the changing of centuries and enduring changing weather fronts. This majestic tree rules our British forests with its grandeur, size and age. Some Oaks have been known to grow well over 100 ft tall and live for over 300 years.

Large trunk, Oak Tree in forest

Photo Credit: Andrew Shelley

Historically the ancient Celts, Romans and Greeks all held the Oak tree in high regard, considering it a sign of status and wearing its leaves as crowns. This symbolism can be traced back to  the ancient Greeks’ association of it to the god Zeus. This is due to the Oaks miraculous ability to attract and survive destructive lightning strikes, standing powerful and strong.

Since the earliest documented ties between humans and Oaks, it has been symbolic of longevity, power, strength, stability and endurance. Along with this there has been the added association with justice. During the 17th century, couples also were wed under ancient Oak trees, believing it would provide strength to their commitment under the eyes of God. Here in the UK in particular, the Oak is the national emblem of strength, being steadfast and knowledgeable. 

Close up of acorns hanging on Oak tree

Photo Credit: Denny Miller

The Oak supports more life than any other native tree species here in the UK. Providing shelter, and life to humans and animals alike. Its bark, leaves and fruit, which is the acorn, all support vital biodiversity.

In the UK the Oak is normally found in deciduous woodland* in southern and central Britain. Its Latin name the Quercus Robur (Quercus meaning ‘oak’ and Robur ‘strength, hard timber’) is part of the Fagaceae family similar to the beech and sweet chestnut. Differences between the different types of Oak can be seen in the grain presentation, lending itself to different uses. A pale wood of generally a tight straight grain, Oaks produce one of the hardest timbers in the world, making it perfect for construction. However it takes a long time to ready it for use and makes this a truly valuable material. English Oak is rarer than European Oak so is of a higher price point and less commonly used. This wood is used mainly in solid furniture manufacture, architecture and historically boat building.

In Summary this wood is sturdy and strong, with a pale and relatively straight grain. Personally I don’t see this wood as the most beautiful or ornate to work with; however for items such as jewellery it lends itself symbolically to special pieces for the Kings in your life and to bring strength. Representing strength and stability, this is a wood worthy of recognition and its regal value acknowledged when purchasing. Next month I will be following this piece with the Queen of trees, Beech, so I hope you check back in to find out more.

Deciduous Forest* vegetation composed primarily of broad-leaved trees that shed all their leaves during one season.