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History of Joyden's Wood

Joyden's Wood contains evidence of human habitation dating back to the Iron Age. There are the remains of two roundhouses, which are more than 2,000 years old, and there have been numerous Roman pottery finds in the south of the wood, along with a 2nd century kiln.

In several areas of the wood, you can see the remains of the mile-long Faesten Dic (Strong Dyke), pronounced Feston Ditch, a defensive structure possibly built around AD457 by the Saxons to help keep out the Romano-British Londoners. It now has Scheduled Ancient Monument status. Originally a large, V-shaped ditch, up to eight metres (26 feet) wide, it has become partially infilled over the years.

In the central part of the site you can see a series of medieval wood banks, created by digging a ditch and piling up the earth on the woodland side. These were used to mark boundaries and suggest the area was farmed in the Middle Ages. Also look out for small depressions in the ground indicating filled in deneholes, underground excavations most likely used for the mining of chalk for agriculture. Other medieval features include  the remains of a dwelling known as the King’s Hollow and a structure known as Hadlow Well, a hollow over eight metres (26ft) in diameter.

The second world war also left its mark. There’s a line of bomb craters in the wood, probably from a fighter plane jettisoning bombs on its return from London attacks. Two Hawker Hurricane fighter planes were shot down over the wood in 1940, both pilots successfully bailing out before their planes crash landed. A commemorative wooden sculpture of the tail and fuselage of a crashed Hurricane, carved by local chainsaw sculptor, Peter Leadbeater, can be seen in the wood.

For many years, the wood was part of a large estate, but this began to be broken up and sold from the mid-1950s. The Forestry Commission took over Joyden’s Wood in 1956 and cleared much of the native woodland vegetation. The site was then planted with mainly Corsican pine, Scots pine and broadleaves such as beech and red oak.

The Woodland Trust purchased Joyden’s Wood, Gattons Plantation and Sands Spinney from the Forestry Commission in 1987 and in 1993 Dartford Borough Council gave the north-eastern corner of Joyden’s Wood to the Trust.

The Trust has been working to thin the conifers allowing more light to penetrate to the woodland floor. This will enable the remnant native flora to regenerate and create a more diverse habitat for wildlife.

Origin of Name

‘Joyden’ is derived from the name of William Jordayne, who was granted woodland in the area in 1556. The wood has also been known as Jordan’s Wood in the past.

Gattons Plantation is likely to be named after the Gatton family who were living in the area around the 14th century. It may also be derived from ‘gat tun’, Old English for goat farmstead.

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