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The big dig

Brede High Woods has a fascinating history stretching back centuries, and much research has taken place over the last few years to delve into different aspects of its past.

From 2011 to 2014 a community archaeology project known as The Big Dig was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Your Heritage grant. A team of 25 volunteers, led by professional archaeologists from Chris Butler Archaeological Services, uncovered further detail about some key historical aspects of the site and the evolution of its landscape.

Recreating the past 

Excavations, archive research and local spoken history have allowed us to recreate the farmhouse and farm buildings which existed at Brede High Farm until their demolition in the 1930s. Some of the buildings dated back to the 17th Century.

Excavations were also undertaken at a range of sites, from a Roman iron working site deep in the woods to a 20th century saw mill. Finding dateable pottery at the iron working site was a real achievement and pushed back the earliest known date of human activity here to the first century AD.

Walk back in time

Download our Brede High Woods history walk leaflet PDF, 582 KB) if you’re planning a visit, or have a look at the interpretation boards at the site. By following the way-marked paths suggested you will discover what people were doing in Brede High Woods from medieval times to the 1930s. There are two routes to choose from, one about three quarters of a mile, taking around half an hour to walk; and the other about a mile and a half, taking around an hour.

History downloads

For more detailed information about the history of the area and The Big Dig, we have produced downloadable  PDFs:

Plus read The Big Dig Report (PDF, 4.57, MB) which gives the full background to The Big Dig. 

Come and visit us at Brede High Woods and take a walk back in time while enjoying this stunning mosaic of ancient and secondary woodland, open heathland, acid grassland, and fantastic array of wildlife.