A potted history of the Shire Wood
Utter the name Sherwood Forest anywhere around the globe and many visions and emotions are likely to spill forth. It’s the substance of legends and fables, literature and film, yet the real story, the history and facts of Sherwood Forest, are less well known.
It’s a story that needs to be told, a story that will inspire generations, a story of environmental and cultural heritage, of people and nature.
By looking at a history that shaped the world we now live in, we can learn lessons that can help forge a positive spirit across the entire planet, a better world that we all have a part to play in.
The historic Sherwood Forest was once the Royal Hunting Forest of Sherwood, dedicated to the enjoyment of the Kings of England, and entertaining royalty from across Europe. Around 800 years ago, Sherwood’s oak woods and heathlands covered 46,900 hectares (115,840 acres) and stretched from Worksop in the north of Nottinghamshire down to the historic City of Nottingham.
Imagine a third of central London as green and natural space, that’s the scale of this once great Forest. Strangely, Sherwood Forest was mostly open land, heathland and grasslands and was in no way a landscape dominated by woodland. But the woodland that existed was very productive, grown and harvested for functional uses.
For example, thousands of native Sherwood oak trees were cut down to build the Royal Navy’s ships for Henry VIII through to Nelson, while the magnificent churches and cathedrals across the country were constructed with Sherwood’s great oak timbers, St Paul’s in London and Lincoln cathedral being superlative examples.
Sherwood Forest has been home to people since the last ice age, around 10,000 years ago and has spawned a rich, varied and vibrant culture. Iron age people, Vikings and Anglo Saxons have all settled in this area and called it home, and each have added to the rich tapestry of heritage, customs and laws that govern both their world and a great deal of what’s been incorporated into our modern culture.
Not many people know that, the start of circumstances that led to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, the first document forced onto a King of England in an attempt to limit his powers by law and thus protect people’s rights, happened in Sherwood Forest. Yet, despite this, over the centuries, our development as a human society has eroded these precious lands and the once majestic landscape has become fragmented and threatened with destruction and loss from industrial and urban development.
Please keep visiting here over the coming months as we add an exciting library of new resource material, including:
• A journey through time: prehistoric to current day
• Tales of Robin Hood
• Community heritage; places of interest, stories and photos
As we launch each section we will post a news link on Facebook, so please don’t forget to follow our page to make sure you keep up to date with our progress.