Sherwood is arguably the most famous "forest" in the world, and its great trees are the very core of its identity. Growing mostly on the red Bunter Sandstone of the region, the Forest once covered an area around twenty-five miles by ten miles which amounted to about a hundred-thousand square acres or more. The soils in the Forest are mostly free-draining and low in available nutrients, and it is this infertility and the limited rainfall in the rain-shadow of the Peak District which restricted land-use and aided the survival of Sherwood Forest. Crops could only be grown with difficulty and cultivated soils easily blew away in the wind. Temporary, shifting cultivation or "brecks" was the only system that could be sustained until modern fertilsers and irrigation became available.
Yet beyond the obvious, many people know little of the reality of the trees themselves or even of the greater myths and legends. Furthermore, few people really understand the nature of the ancient trees and the lost heritage that has diminished the numbers over recent centuries. Additionally, there is still much to be discovered about Sherwood's trees today and the history of the trees in the past. This book owes much to the inspiration of the eighteenth-century antiquarian and writer, Major Hayman Rooke and it reproduces many of the illustrations from his two books written in the late 1700s. The author would also like to acknowledge the book written by Joe Bass, Famous Trees of Robin Hood's Forest and published back in 1999.