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The Oak and Magna Carta

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This is the time of year that wind knocks the oak apples down. When I pick one up, it is pale rose and brown in color with a hard shell, and feels as light as a hollow egg. A little hole is visible at one end.

I had no idea what it was at first, and was surprised to learn that an oak apple is created when a female gall wasp lays her eggs in an oak twig, and the tissue of the oak becomes irritated, and grows round the eggs, creating a home for them. Eventually the young gall wasps fly away, and a wind blows, and the oak apples fall.

More than a thousand years ago, Brits noticed that oak apples are black inside. They crushed the apples with sulphate of iron, gum, and water to make the ink for their books. In 1215, Magna Carta was written, letter by letter, with the ink made from crushed oak apples.

I hold the light apple in my hand, and think about the people whose strength, as strong as the oak, committed them to justice and to the world-changing idea – "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice". For the next eight hundred years, whenever that covenant was under attack, there would always be a Brit ready to defend it.

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