Nov 25 Woodland Archaeology by David Brown
A few years back this bloke bought a small wood just outside Heathfield. He knew nothing about looking after a wood – he hadn’t really thought this through, but he decided it could be good fun, so he bought it. A few years and a storm later he noticed there were a number of rather odd flat areas dotted around the wood, and wondered if people had been quarrying there or something. Then he found some pieces of rock in the stream which looked as though they had been in some sort of furnace because they looked as though they’d been molten once.
(this pond is in a quarry in a wood)
A little bit of reading and he discovered his wood had for a long period been bang in the middle of the Wealden iron industry. Nobody could tell him much about the old iron industry, so he joined the Wealden Iron Research Group to find out more. And find out more he did. They went on monthly field walks in the winter looking for ironworkings, particularly bloomery sites, so he learned what a bloomery was. And there were loads of these flat areas in other woods; they had been where charcoal burners had built their clamp to make charcoal. Woods, it seemed, had an awful lot of secrets to give up, if only you knew how to look for them.
After a lot more voluntary work he began to find more and different features in woods, and a picture began to emerge of woods once humming with activity – and because the soil in woods tends not to be disturbed very much, the shape of the ground gave away some of the things that had been happening there.
Now this bloke is helping other woodland owners see what is in their own woods. He is prepared to come and look at your wood to help you to find out what may have happened there.
He’s David Brown and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. He doesn’t charge for his time, but a contribution towards petrol would be very much appreciated.
SEWAF stands for the South East Woodland Archaeology Forum, recently set up to help woodland owners find out more about the archaeology of their wood. Please contact David if you would like to know more.