This huge tree has recently been officially classified as an Ancient Oak. Oaks have three notional ages during their expected lifetime of 900 – 1000 years. This one, middle-aged, is about 550 years old. There are signs that it is just beginning a very slow decline towards becoming one of those misshapen gnarled oak stumps that date from Norman times.

When this tree was an acorn, the Plantagenets were on the throne. The battle of Bosworth had yet to be fought. America had not yet been discovered. Columbus was a teenager. Leonardo was in his 20s. Michelangelo was a baby. Botticelli was honing his precocious skills.

Highly sophisticated methods of dating trees have overtaken the counting of rings, with very specific criteria that go far beyond girth measurement. Behind this tree you can see another oak. It was damaged in storm Alex last autumn before it had shed its leaves. At around 250 years old, it is designated a Veteran Oak. Captain Cook was the vogue explorer at that time.