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Listen to sounds of the Major Oak

Posted onPosted on 28th May

The sounds of the ancient Major Oak tree have been recorded for the first time — and can be heard on a podcast.

Alex Metcalf recorded the Major Oak as part of his Tree Listening Project, which has featured on BBC One’s Countryfile.

The project aims to create a deeper understanding of how trees work and to engage people with nature.

Alex used highly-sensitive microphones to detect the sound of ‘popping’ when ascending water mixes with air in the xylem — the tissue that transports water from the roots to the leaves.

On the podcast, the sound that can be heard for the first time is the noise of this movement happening inside the 1,000-year-old tree.

The Miner2Major’s Voices From Sherwood Forest podcast, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, aims to capture voices and stories from local communities and organisations — and celebrate the habitats, special species, and rich heritage of Sherwood Forest.

The scheme’s engagement officer, Helen Mitchem, interviewed a variety of people, including former miners, youth workers, musicians, and nature conservationists. The most recent episode features the unique ‘interview’ with the Major Oak.

Helen, who asked Alex to help her connect with the famous tree, said: “It was a really incredible moment to be the first person to hear the sounds of the Major Oak.

“The tree sounds very active and strong. I thought it would be a great idea to include these noises as part of my series of podcasts.

“Who else can say they’ve interviewed (and had a reply from) the Major Oak!”

Joining the podcast discussion was Rob James, of the RSPB, which manages Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve, where the ancient tree can be found.

Communications officer Rob said: “Being able to capture the sound of this incredible tree is wonderful.

“Those of us who work at Sherwood Forest feel privileged just to be able to marvel at it each day, but to hear otherwise inaudible sounds from within it was very humbling indeed — and a reminder that, even after a phenomenal 1,100 years, it is still a true living icon of nature.”

To listen to the podcast go to