Sherwood Forest is a Royal Forest in Nottinghamshire, close to Edwinstowe and Mansfield. It is famous through its historical association with the legend of Robin Hood. Continuously deforested since the end of the Ice Age, Sherwood is today reduced to about 1.65 square miles with the remnants surrounding the village of Edwinstowe and Thoresby Hall. The forest of today is a remnant of a much larger royal hunting forest, named as the "shire wood" of Nottinghamshire, which in fact extended into several neighbouring counties.
The forest was opened as a country park to the public in 1969 by Nottinghamshire County Council, which manages the forest under lease from the Thoresby Estate. In 2002, Sherwood Forest was designated a National Nature Reserve by English Nature. In 2007 Natural England officially incorporated the Budby South Forest, Nottinghamshire's largest area of dry lowland heath, into the Sherwood Forest, nearly doubling its size. Some portions of the forest still retain many very old oaks, especially in the portion known as the Dukeries, south of the town of Worksop, which was so called because it used to contain five ducal residences in proximity to one another. The River Idle, a tributary of the Trent, is formed in Sherwood Forest from the confluence of several minor streams.
Sherwood Forest is home to the famous Major Oak, which, according to local folklore, was Robin Hood's principal hideout. The oak tree is thought to be between 800 and 1000 years old and, since the Victorian era, its massive limbs have been partially supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. In February 1998, a local company took cuttings from the Major Oak and began cultivating clones of the famous tree with the intention of sending saplings to be planted in major cities around the world.
The history of the Forest encapsulates many important phases in the history of England, not simply the story of Robin. Clearance and enclosure took their toll. The Dissolution of the Monasteries put valuable land into the hands of private landowners. Water-powered cotton mills sprang up in the late 18th century, tourism took off in the Victorian age, and then pine plantations were established around 1900.
Sherwood Forest is linked with the legend of Robin Hood, this is the forest that hid the outlaws, and where they outwitted the evil Sheriff of Nottingham.
As such, Sherwood is a shelter for the ancient spirit of England, the Green Man, and it is still the home of many oak trees.