1) England’s most popular tree over the centuries, responsible for hundreds of place-names, many of them recorded in Domesday Book.
Typical examples include Ackworth, Acomb, Oakenshaw and Oakworth, all of Old English origin, whilst Aketon and Aikwood have spellings which testify to Scandinavian influence. Solitary oaks were boundary markers and meeting places, as in Shire Oaks and Skyrack. Scores of minor settlements have survived with simpler names, such as The Oak in Sowerby and Oakes in Almondbury. The oak was our major source of timber in the past and it is referred to countless times in wood leases and wood management documents: 1316-7 Pro j quercu et j rota molendini empt apud Ryther pro domo in Holdernesse
1470 Johanni Rawdon de Wystow … pro xlv quercubus 4li, York
1599-1600 Oke Tymber trees Super le Wham Hagg, Settrington. A Dissolution survey of the woods that had belonged to Fountains Abbey divided oaks into several categories: 1574 Okes of the best sorte were valued at 13s 4d a pice
of the second sorte at 6s 8d
of the third sort at 3s 4d and speres of okes at 12d. The historian T.D. Whitaker offered an insight into how fashion changed when he said of English oak in 1816 that it had traditionally ‘formed the great material of our furniture as well as of our floors and roofs’, but then added that it ‘was a stubborn log, dark and unsightly
and as soon as the first plank of mahogany’ was imported from Jamaica, people ‘began to discard the lumber of their dwellings and to adopt the new material’.