Our 'Heart of the Wood' collection draws inspiration from the iconic English Oak tree. A symbol of wisdom and enduring strength, the majestic oak is woven into the history and folklore of England.
An Iconic Tree
The oak tree, Quercus robur, stands tall and proud across the landscapes of England, its branches stretching towards the heavens, and its roots firmly grounded in the rich history of the country. A common tree, it is seen especially in deciduous woods in southern and central Britain. With its enduring presence, the oak has become a national symbol, revered for its embodiment of strength, wisdom, and longevity. But why is the oak tree held is such regard, and where does the symbolism of this mighty tree originate?
A Symbol of Strength and Longevity
The oak tree's robust and enduring nature makes it an apt symbol of strength. The wood of the oak tree has always been prized for its immense fortitude. Hard, dense oak timber is known for its durability, and is still used in the construction of houses and furniture. Historically, oak was highly valued as a material for shipbuilding. In the late 17th century, during the reign of Charles II, the British Crown initiated a program to expand and modernize the navy. Oak wood, with its exceptional strength and durability, became the preferred material for shipbuilding. The iconic HMS Victory, Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar, was constructed from over 6000 oak trees. Royal Navy ships were constructed from oak timbers until the middle of the 19th century.
The oak tree's long lifespan, often spanning several centuries, has led to its association with longevity. The tree's sturdy trunk and extensive root system allow it to weather storms and withstand the test of time. One of the most well-known ancients oaks in the United Kingdom, the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, is estimated to be over 800 years old. The Bowthorpe Oak in Lincolnshire is believed to be over 1000 years old.
Significance in Folklore
The oak tree has been a fixture in British mythology for centuries, often associated with various deities and legends. One of the most prominent associations is with the Druids, the ancient Celtic priests who revered the oak as sacred. They believed that oak trees hosted the strength and energy of the gods - to catch an oak leaf brought good luck and prosperity. They would worship in oak tree groves, and the Yule Log, decorated with holly and mistletoe, was traditionally cut from oak.
The oak tree's association with wisdom is rooted in its role in Druidic culture. The Druids, regarded as wise and learned individuals in Celtic society, revered the oak for its supposed ability to impart knowledge. Furthermore, the oak's longevity, with some trees living for centuries, was seen as a symbol of the wisdom gained through time and experience. In England, the saying "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow" embodies the idea that wisdom and strength can develop from humble beginnings.
The Oak in English History
The oak's significance in English history is cemented by its pivotal role in the history of England's monarchy. The Royal Oak, a famous oak tree in Boscobel Wood, Shropshire, served as a hiding place for King Charles II after the Battle of Worcester in 1651 during the English Civil War. The tree's branches concealed the king from his pursuers. Following the monarchy's restoration, the oak became a symbol of the restoration of the monarchy itself.
The 'Heart of the Wood' Collection
Our oak leaf jewellery collection evokes the distinctive lobed leaves of the oak tree in highly polished sterling silver. These pieces are a development from our 'Heart of Yorkshire' collection, where the oak leaf symbol can be seen central to the Heart of Yorkshire motif.