An ancient oak and not quite as ancient barn at Läckö Redoubt.
Through the ages, the oak has been imbued with properties both religious, magical and utilitarian. Its greek name, "drys", conjures up images of dryads - Greek tree nymphs, as well as of druids - Celtic priests that held the oak as sacred above other trees. The oak seems to have been of great importance to far more cultures than these two, however. In most Indo-european cultures the oak plays a significant role. For example, the thunder god is tightly connected to the oak tree, wether he be the Greek god Zeus, the Celtic god Taranis or the Norse god Thor. Old sources would even have it that the Germanic tribes of ancient times had a sacred and mighty oak tree somewhere in what is today Germany that was specifically dedicated to Donar (Thor) .
In modern times, many states, peoples, companies and organizations have taken up the oak tree, oak leaf or acorn as a symbol of strength, wealth or tradition, or to legitimize their rule or ideology. A typical example of this is the Iron Eagle of the Third Reich which clasps an oak wreath in its claws.
If we leave mythology and concentrate on the utilitarian usage of the oak, it is one of the strongest and sturdiest species of wood. As such it has often been used as the preferred choice when building ocean-going vessels and especially the keels of these. In Sweden it was of such importance to the maritime industry that the oaks were considered the property of the crown and felling one was severely punished.
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