The Original Wood

Before entering, it is worth while walking around the perimeter of the wood. The most interesting views of it are on the southern side where it is flanked by the ride.

The remains of a boundary ditch can be clearly seen adjacent to the ride. It is not a massive ditch so it is probably not mediaeval. In the Middle Ages, woods were an important source of income, and huge banks and ditches were used to clearly establish their ownership. They also provided protection from grazing animals. Mediaeval wood banks tended to be marked by pollard trees and this wood possesses no such features. Nevertheless, it is still a substantial ditch so it may date back to at least Tudor times

A gate in the south eastern corner will lead us into the wood. Here we can see that the most frequently occurring tree is hazel. The hazels do not grow with single trunks - rather each tree is a small thicket of shoots. This is the result of COPPICING where the shoots were successively harvested and then allowed to re-grow from the cut stools.

There are other tree species here - hawthorn, elm, wych elm, spindle, field maple, rose and holly. Of the taller trees, ash and oak are the most common. The trees here seem to be about 150 years old. They would have been grown for timber, although the presence of multi-stemmed ash suggests that this species was also coppiced.

Dog’s mercury and ivy dominate the ground. Both of these plants are tolerant of shade, and indeed, little light has reached the woodland floor for many, many years. Moss and an interesting variety of fern species tell the same story. But here and there can be found patches of plants such as bluebells, red campion, yellow archangel and wood anenome. These are true coppice woodland flowers that bloom in the spring before the canopy closes over. Wood anenome in particular takes a long time to establish, so its presence can indicate an ancient wood, i.e. a wood that is over 400 years old.

The gently sloping land on which the wood stands is quite boggy in places. Plants such as meadowsweet and flag iris indicate underlying dampness. So the flora of a wood can tell us a lot about the history of an area as well as indicate the soil conditions underneath it.

About : The Ride →