Beloved children have many names. The gigantic oak is considered Sweden's oldest and largest tree, if not the oak with the largest girth in all of Europe. It measures 14 metres in circumference and is at least one thousand years old. To visit the country's oldest living organism is something of a spiritual experience. From time immemorial we have worshiped large trees, and here one can feel the magic.
The Oak of Kvill or Rumskulla Oak, as we visitors often call it, is in the Kvill Nature Reserve a few kilometres south of Norra Kvill National Park. You will look for it in vain within Rumskulla, but town residents can show you the way to the Oak of Kvill (Kvilleken), which is the correct name here. Winding Småland gravel roads lead you forward. Once you are there, it is easy to close in on it because the road has recently been improved.
The Oak of Kvill was already old during the time of Nils Dacke
It is hard to imagine all that the oak has seen. The roots existed during the Viking era. It sprouted during the time of Saint Bridget and was providing shade before Gustav Vasa came into power. It has witnessed the Black Death, and it is said that Nils Dacke, the peasant revolt leader, had twelve prisoners of war hanged here during the 16th century. It became hollow at an early stage, and in the 18th century there are reports that farmers stored their tools in the hollow trunk.
The Oak of Kvill is a survivor
During the first centuries of its life, the oak was naturally protected because it was important for farmers and their freely grazing, acorn-eating pigs. It was protected under Westrogothic Law and joint property for the village. To cut down an oak without permission was punishable with fines. When Gustav Vasa came into power, the law was repealed, and many oaks were used to build ships, but the Oak of Kvill was allowed to remain, possibly because it did not grow straight enough.
It's remarkable that the oak managed to survive storms and lightning and people who are unable to let things alone. However, it has been noted that an extremely cold winter at the beginning of the 18th century cracked the oak and caused it to wither. But the oak made a remarkable comeback and the crown became green again. The oak has braved many hard winters, dry summers and severe storms. For a hundred years it has been protected from human impact. And don't forget that he who damages an oak can be doomed to insatiable hunger ...