The FOREST OF DEAN is a geographical, historical and cultural region
in the western part of the county of
The area is characterised by more than 110 square kilometres (42.5 sq
mi) of mixed woodland, one of the surviving ancient woodlands in
England. A large area was reserved for royal hunting before 1066, and
remained as the second largest crown forest in England, the largest
Traditionally the main sources of work have been forestry – including charcoal production - iron working and coal mining . Archaeological studies have dated the earliest use of coal to Roman times for domestic heating and industrial processes such as the preparation of iron ore.
The area gives its name to the local government district , Forest of Dean , and a parliamentary constituency , both of which cover wider areas than the historic Forest. The administrative centre of the local authority is Coleford , one of the main towns in the historic Forest area, together with Cinderford and Lydney .
* 1 Geology * 2 Etymology
* 3 History
* 3.1 Prehistory * 3.2 The Romans * 3.3 The medieval period * 3.4 During the Tudor dynasty * 3.5 Attempt at disafforestation and the Western Rising * 3.6 The 17th - 18th centuries * 3.7 The Dean Forest Riots * 3.8 \'Who killed the bears?\' * 3.9 Industrial development in the 19th and early 20th centuries * 3.10 Changes since the mid-20th century
* 4 Foresters * 5 Ecology * 6 Famous inhabitants * 7 Towns and villages * 8 Places of interest * 9 In the media * 10 See also * 11 References * 12 External links
Forest of Dean
The origins of the name remains an area of debate. The prevalence of Welsh place names in the area, suggests a possible corruption of _Din_ (hill-fort). However, similar or identical elements from Old English exist throughout England.
Giraldus Cambrensis , writing in the twelfth century, refers to the area as _Danubia_ which may translate as "land of Danes" following the Viking settlements in that era. It is possible that an original name _Dene_ developed from this.
The area was inhabited in
Mesolithic times, and there are also
remains of later megalithic monuments, including the Longstone near
Staunton and the Broadstone at Wibdon,
Stroat . Barrows have been
Tidenham and Blakeney .
The area was occupied by the Romans around 50 AD. They were attracted
by its natural resources which included iron ore , ochre and charcoal
. The coal mining industry was probably established on a small scale
in Roman times. The area was governed from the Roman town of
Ariconium _ at
Weston under Penyard near
Ross-on-Wye , and a road was
built from there to a river crossing at
Newnham on Severn and port at
Lydney. The "Dean Road", still visible at
Soudley , is believed to be
a mediaeval rebuilding of the
THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD
St. Briavels Castle
The area's history is obscure for several centuries after Roman
period during the so-called Dark Ages , although at different times it
may have been part of the Welsh kingdoms of Gwent and
Ergyng , and the
Lancaut peninsulas east of the Lower Wye remained in
Welsh control at least until the 8th century. Around 790 the Saxon
Offa of Mercia built his dyke high above the Wye, to mark the
boundary with the Welsh . The
Forest of Dean
The Hundred of
St Briavels was established in the 12th century, at
the same time as many Norman laws concerning the
Forest of Dean
DURING THE TUDOR DYNASTY
The forest was used exclusively as a royal hunting ground by the
Tudor kings, and subsequently a source of food for the royal court.
Its rich deposits of iron ore led to its becoming a major source of
ATTEMPT AT DISAFFORESTATION AND THE WESTERN RISING
As a result of King Charles I 's decision to rule without Parliament
, he sought to raise finances through grants of
Royal forest lands.
3,000 acres of the
Forest of Dean
After the restoration, Sir John Winter successfully reasserted his right to the Forest of Dean. However, in 1668 forest law was reestablished by Act of Parliament. in 1672, the King's ironworks were closed, to reduce pressure on the forest from mining.
THE 17TH - 18TH CENTURIES
The Speech House , between Coleford and Cinderford , was built in 1682 to host the Court of Mine Law and "Court of the Speech", a sort of parliament for the Verderers and Free Miners managing the forest, game, and mineral resources. The Gaveller and his deputy were responsible for leasing gales - areas allocated for mining - on behalf of the Crown. The Speech House has been used as an inn and hotel since the 19th century.
During the 18th century, squatters established roughly-built hamlets around the fringes of the Crown forest demesne. By about 1800, these settlements were well established at Berry Hill and Parkend .
The Forest of Dean, with its huge iron ore reserves and ready supply of timber, had been of national importance in the production of iron, using charcoal, for hundreds of years. Despite the abundance of coal, it was not used to produce coke for smelting and local ironmasters were reluctant to invest in new technology, but in the last decade of the 18th century coke-fired furnaces at Cinderford , Whitecliff and Parkend Ironworks were built almost simultaneously.
THE DEAN FOREST RIOTS
In 1808 Parliament passed the Dean Forest (Timber) Act, which included the provision to enclose 11,000 acres (4,452 ha) of woodland. Between 1814 and 1816 all 11,000 acres (4,452 ha) were enclosed.
There were bread riots in 1795 and in 1801. Ordinary Foresters were already poverty stricken, and their plight had grown worse. They were denied access to the enclosed areas and unable to hunt or remove timber. In particular, they lost their ancient grazing and mining rights.
Unrest was growing, and
Conservatives were disliked in the
Forest of Dean
\'WHO KILLED THE BEARS?\'
On 26 April 1889, four Frenchmen and their two bears were making their way to Ruardean, having performed in Cinderford. They were attacked by an angry mob, enraged by claims that the bears had killed a child and injured a woman. The bears were killed and the Frenchmen badly beaten.
It soon became clear that the bears had not attacked anyone. Police proceedings followed and a week later 13 colliers and labourers appeared before magistrates at Littledean, charged with ill-treating and killing the bears and assaulting the Frenchmen. All but two were found guilty on one or more charges, with another convicted a week later. A total of £85 was paid in fines - a huge sum in those days. A subscription was also launched which generously compensated the Frenchmen.
The term _'Who killed the bears?'_ existed for many years as an insult, directed particularly towards the people of Ruardean - despite the fact that all those convicted were from Cinderford.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE 19TH AND EARLY 20TH CENTURIES
Robert Forester Mushet (1811-1891), steel industry pioneer
Exploitation of the Forest of Dean Coalfield developed rapidly in the early-19th century with increased demand from local ironworks, and when some of the earliest tramroads in the UK were built here to transport coal to local ports the area was transformed by the growth of mining and the production of iron and steel.
In 1818/9 David Mushet built Darkhill Ironworks , where he experimented with iron and steel making. In 1845, his youngest son, Robert Forester Mushet , took over its management. He perfected the Bessemer Process by solving the quality problems which beset the process. In a second key advance in metallurgy he invented Mushet steel (R.M.S.) in 1868. It was the first true tool steel and the first air-hardening steel . It revolutionised the design of machine tools and the progress of industrial metalworking, and was the forerunner of High speed steel . The remains of Darkhill are preserved as an Industrial Archaeological Site of International Importance and are open to the public.
Cinderford was laid out as a planned town in the mid-19th century, but the characteristic form of settlement remained the sprawling hamlets of haphazardly placed cottages. Characteristics shared with other British coalfields, such as a devotion to sport, the central role of miners' clubs, and the formation of brass bands , created a distinct community identity.
In the later-19th and early-20th centuries the Forest was a complex industrial region with deep coal mines, iron mines, iron and tinplate works, foundries, quarries and stone-dressing works, wood distillation works producing chemicals, a network of railways, and numerous tramroads. The tradition of independence in the area resulted in a great number of smaller and not necessarily economically successful mines. In 1904 the Gaveller oversaw a period of amalgamation of collieries which allowed deeper mines to be sunk. During the early-20th century, annual output from the coalfield rarely fell below 1 million tons.
CHANGES SINCE THE MID-20TH CENTURY
Part of the pithead structure at Hopewell Colliery museum .
In 1945 half of the male working population worked in the coal industry but after the Second World War increased pumping costs and other factors made the coalfield less economic. The last commercial iron mine closed in 1946 followed in 1965 by the closure of the last large colliery, Northern United. There are still small private mines in operation, worked by freeminers and Hopewell Colliery is open to the public.
With the decline of the mines, the area has undergone a period of significant change, ameliorated to some extent by a shift to high technology , with companies establishing themselves in the area, attracted by grants and a willing workforce.
Many mines have now disappeared into the forest and the area is
characterised by picturesque scenery punctuated by remnants of the
industrial age and small towns. There remains a number of industrial
areas but the focus has been to capitalise on the scenery and to
create jobs from tourist attractions and the leisure sector.
Significant numbers of residents work outside the area, commuting to
If born within the hundred of St Briavels, an ancient administrative
area covering most of what is now considered the Forest of Dean, one
is classed as a true Forester. The classification bestows a unique
right for (traditionally) males over the age of 21 who have worked in
a mine for a year and a day — they can register to be a freeminer .
The ancient rights were put on the statute books in the Dean Forest
(Mines) Act 1838, the only public act to affect private individuals.
Residents of the hundred over 18 can graze sheep in the Forest in
accordance with an agreement between the
In October 2010 a woman won the right to be classified as a
Freeminer. Elaine Morman, an employee at
Clearwell Caves in the
Forest, who had worked as a miner of ochre for a number of years,
raised a claim of sexual discrimination against the Forestry
Commission . After
Mark Harper MP raised the matter in the House of
The Lake at Mallards Pike frozen during winter.
The forest is composed of deciduous and evergreen trees. Predominant
is oak , both pedunculate and sessile .
The Forest is home to wild boar ; the exact number is unknown but exceeds a hundred. They were illegally re-introduced to the Forest in 2006. A population in the Ross-on-Wye area on the northern edge of the forest escaped from a wild boar farm around 1999 and are believed to be of pure Eastern European origin; in a second introduction, a domestic herd was dumped near Staunton in 2004, but are not pure bred wild boar —attempts to locate the source of the illegal dumps have been unsuccessful. The boar can now be found in many parts of the Forest.
Locally there are mixed feelings about the presence of boar. Problems have included ploughing up gardens and picnic areas, attacking dogs and panicking horses, road traffic accidents, and ripping open rubbish bags. The local authority undertook a public consultation and have recommended to the Verderers that control is necessary. Under its international obligations the UK government is obliged to consider the reintroduction of species made extinct through the activities of man, the wild boar included.
Forest of Dean
Butterflies of note are the small pearl-bordered fritillary , wood white and the white admiral or _ Limenitis camilla _. Gorsty Knoll is famed for its glow-worms and Woorgreen's lake for its dragonflies .
Emma Hatton (b.1983), west end musical theatre star, Wicked,
Evita, We Will Rock You, born in Coleford.
Wayne Barnes (b. 1979), international rugby union referee, lived
in Bream, and played for
Jane Couch (b. 1968), winner of five women's World Boxing titles,
lives in Lydney.
* Members of the band EMF are from Cinderford.
Winifred Foley (1914-2009), author who wrote about her childhood
in the forest, was born in
Cyril Hart OBE (1913-2009),
Verderer of the Forest of Dean,
* Alvington * Aylburton * Berry Hill * Blakeney * Bream * Brierley * Broadwell * Cinderford * Clearwell * Coleford * Coalway * Drybrook * Edge End * English Bicknor * Gorsty Knoll * Harrow Hill * Hewelsfield * Huntley * Joys Green * Littledean * Little London * Longhope * Lydbrook * Milkwall * Mitcheldean * Newland * Parkend * Pillowell * Ruardean * Ruardean Hill * Ruardean Woodside * Ruspidge * Soudley * Sling * St Briavels * Staunton * Steam Mills * The Pludds * Westbury * Whitecroft * Woolaston * Yorkley
PLACES OF INTEREST
* Beechenhurst Lodge * Bixslade * Blaize Bailey * Cannop Cycle Centre * Cannop Ponds * Clearwell Caves * Darkhill Ironworks * Cyril Hart Arboretum * Dean Forest Railway * Dean Heritage Centre * G.W.R. Museum * Go Ape * Harts Barn Craft Centre * Hopewell Colliery Museum * Laymoor Quag * Littledean Jail * Mallards Pike Lake * New Fancy * Parkend Ironworks * Parkend railway station * Perrygrove Railway * Puzzlewood * RSPB Nagshead * Sculpture Trail * Soudley Ponds * Speech House * Symond\'s Yat * Wenchford picnic site * Whitecliff Ironworks * Woorgreens Lake and Marsh
IN THE MEDIA
_ This article contains embedded lists that MAY BE POORLY DEFINED, UNVERIFIED OR INDISCRIMINATE . Please help to clean it up to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. Where appropriate, incorporate items into the main body of the article. (February 2015)_
* Heavy metal band
Black Sabbath rented
Clearwell Castle to write
and record their fifth album, _
Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath _ in 1973. The
band rehearsed in the castle dungeon for inspiration.
* In 1998 the area was on national news as it was going through a
bad heroin epidemic and several young people fatally overdosed within
a short period of time.
* Many TV and film projects have been filmed at
Clearwell Caves ,
including the 2005 Christmas special of _
Doctor Who _.
* In 2006, Coleford's St. John's Street was featured in a
newspaper/magazine advert for the
* ^ "
St. Briavels Hundred - British History Online". Retrieved 16
* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ "Forest of Dean: Introduction - British History
Online". Retrieved 16 December 2016.
* ^ Hoyle, John (November 2008). "The Forest of Dean
* ^ Gloucestershire.gov.uk
* ^ "The Staunton Longstone -
Forest of Dean