History of the site
Despite the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Wood being largely new woodland, the site is still steeped in history! In fact, it all started here just over 300 million years ago!
310 million years ago
The wet environment of the swamps that once covered this area prevented the decomposition of the trees and plant material.
When this period was followed by an increase in water levels, the plants and trees were buried by silt, mud and rocks and then compressed over the next 300 million years to form the coal that was mined in the 20th century.
The Neolithic period, approx. 4,000 to 2,000BC
A number of items dating from the Neolithic period onwards have been discovered on the site, including Neolithic flint shards.
The Bronze Age, c. 2,000 to 800BC
A Bronze Age palstave or axe in mint condition was discovered on the site by a farm labourer in the 1970s.
Into the Iron Age, c. 800BC to 43AD
An area of Iron Age farming settlement straddles the south-eastern boundary, partially within the wood and partially on neighbouring farm land. There is nothing to see on the ground, but excavations have uncovered the remains of a ‘quern’ for grinding corn, and cobbled track ways.
The increasing use of iron for making tools transformed life for farmers and many of the archaeological finds here can be traced back to this time.
The Romans, 43AD – 410AD
The Via Devana Roman Road which once ran between Chester and Colchester follows the public right of way that along the northern boundary, passing the Welcome Barn.
Archaeology on the site also fits in with that explored locally elsewhere, particularly in relation to the Roman road which ran through Moira in the National Forest (Conkers) and nearby Ibstock. In Roman times Ibstock was a settlement that produced pottery which would have been exported along this road.
The medieval period, c. 5th century to 1485
Medieval pottery has also been found in an area of the site.
Why these findings are important
These areas have been left unplanted to ensure they remain undisturbed. In due course they will be enhanced by appropriate interpretation, including landscape-scale art reflecting the history of the site. The archaeology here is very important from both a local and national perspective in helping us to understand how our ancestors lived. To have an area which shows such a long period of habitation from Neolithic hunter gatherer through to Roman and Romano British all in one place is also very significant.
More modern times
Land to the south and west of the site was former agricultural land, still in use when the Trust purchased it in 2012; while to the north is reclaimed and former open-cast mining land, known as Longmoor. This includes the lake which was created from an area where coal had previously been excavated. The land off School Lane was formerly owned by the National Forest Company and purchased from them around the same time.