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Wychwood: The evolution of a wooded landscape

by Beryl Schumer
Foreword by Harold Fox, Head of the Department of English Local History, Leicester University

As both a Royal Forest and an extensive area of woodland, Wychwood was a dominant feature in the life and landscape of West Oxfordshire for at least 800 years. This book complements the story of the Forest and its people by following the history of the woodland of the region. It shows exactly how extensive the tree cover was in the Norman period, what it was like, and which settlements were already in existence. The author then follows the later developments which have created the landscape of the present day.

In recent years our understanding of the development of the landscape has changed radically. The original clearance of the primeval woodland, once assumed to have been the work largely of Anglo-Saxon settlers, is now attributed to Neolithic and Bronze Age populations many times larger than previously thought. Much of the medieval woodland of Wychwood is now known to have been secondary re-growth over land that had once been cleared, settled and cultivated. Medieval Wychwood had clearly defined and stable boundaries and a considerable variety of landscape, offering valuable resources which were systematically conserved and managed.

Beryl Schumer also corrects the traditional view that the 'new villages' like Leafield, Finstock, Ramsden, Hailey and Crawley were carved out of the virgin forest some time after the late 11th century.

Includes the 1830 Ordnance Survey one-inch maps of the area, other maps, tables and photographs.

First published 1984 by Leicester University Press as 'The Evolution of Wychwood to 1400: Pioneers, Frontiers and Forests', and long out of print.
This is a revised and enlarged edition.

£7.50 pbk 128pp 978-1-902279-02-2