27 May 2010 16:00:00.000
Forget St George. A University of Nottingham academic thinks that Oak Apple Day (May 29) is a better symbol of Englishness than the dragon-slaying martyr.
Dr Markus Eichhorn makes the case for a new English national day in a new series of online videos examining the different aspects of trees.
“St George is a peculiar national symbol,” said Dr Eichhorn, an expert on trees in the University’s School of Biology. “He was Turkish, he never visited this country and he has no particular associations with England.
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What better symbol of England than the oak, he argues, which has been a key element of the country’s culture, geography and economy for thousands of years?
Dr Eichhorn points to the old English legend of the Green Man, a mythical character who represents the annual cycle of regrowth. He is often depicted with hair and a beard of oak leaves. Many English villages were also built around oaks, or they were used as landmarks and boundaries. And the oak’s crop, acorns, was a valuable one. Used as pig feed, acorns gave the meat a good flavour. Oaks also provided raw materials for building ships of the Royal Navy.
Dr Eichhorn suggests May 29 is a potential date for the English national day — already known Oak Apple day, or Royal Oak Day, in our national calendar. It marks the day that Charles II hid from rebel forces in an oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House, Stafford, following the Battle of Worcester in 1651. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, he decreed that the day be celebrated, and that trees should be dressed as part of the festivities.
‘A YouTube Guide to Trees’ is a new series on the Test Tube website, which examines the science going on in Nottingham and the researchers that do all the hard work. The videos are produced by filmmaker Brady Haran. His other web projects featuring academics at the University include the Periodic Table of Videos, with a video about each element; Sixty Symbols, which looks at the symbols used in physics; and Bibledex, featuring a video about each book of the Bible.
The series currently includes videos on oak and elm trees, with ‘filmlets’ on ash, holly, sycamore, birch, horse chestnut and yew coming soon.
“Spending a few hours walking around with Markus makes you look at trees in a whole new light,” Brady said. “I hope these short videos have the same effect.”
To watch the YouTube Guide to Trees visit www.test-tube.org.uk/trees/
Brady’s other projects are available at www.periodicvideos.com, www.sixtysymbols.com and www.bibledex.com
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City