We use some essential cookies to make this website work.
We’d like to set additional cookies to understand how you use forestresearch.gov.uk, remember your settings and improve our services.
Preparing to search
Considering there are currently some 27,000 km2 (2.7 million ha) of land in Great Britain under woodland management it is inevitable that a significant part will contain sites of archaeological importance. Any archaeological evidence is part of a dynamic environment and its management can be a complex issue. Often, the first difficulty for a woodland manager is to identify any relevant features. While many are mapped or recorded, locating them on the ground may be problematic. Every site or feature will need some degree of management to minimise the risks of any damage. Examples of some management issues are outlined below.
The retention of tree cover may also be desirable for its own historical value. For example where archaeological evidence is directly associated with past woodland management or sites occur in areas of ancient woodlands. With sensitive management, tree cover upon or surrounding suitable types of archaeological site could provide long term, low cost, physical protection. To maintain tree cover whilst minimising the risk of damage to any archaeological evidence, some form of active forest operation such as thinning or harvesting will be required during the tree’s lifetime.
On some sites, there will undoubtedly be a need for tree removal this can be a very successful operation. The most frequently quoted example of removal is where mature trees are at risk from windthrow. However, the effects of tree removal must also be considered, as it will cause change in the surrounding environment and may have unforeseen impacts upon the remaining archaeology. Potential problems can also arise from increased visitor pressure with examples of archaeological damage resulting from the use of bikes on earthworks. Additionally, where former woodland management has been withdrawn from large areas, scrub, gorse (Ulex europaeus) and bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) may invade creating a new set of conservation issues.
The types of archaeology found within forests or woodlands are very diverse and of varying degrees of importance. Similarly, the site conditions in which they are found and the local flora and fauna also differ greatly. With such variation, general recommendations on site management are difficult. For a site-specific, optimum management strategy to be determined, more information would ideally be available on the type of archaeological feature, its importance, its depth if buried, its composition and also on site details such as soil type, altitude, exposure, slope etc. and proposed crop details. Professional judgement on a site-by-site basis is always needed. Nevertheless, proper discussion of both the advantages and disadvantages of a woodland and other vegetation cover will promote a better, more informed management.
Within the Forestry Commission estate, important archaeological sites are incorporated into the Forest District Conservation Plan where appropriate management is prescribed. Each Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) has its own specific management plan, agreed with the appropriate national heritage body. Forest Enterprise has undertaken to periodically reviewthe condition of SAMs on the estate, and their respective management plans. All known archaeological sites are incorporated into individual forest design plans and consideration of their role and setting in the surrounding landscape is encouraged.
Cookies are files saved on your phone, tablet or computer when you visit a website.
We use 3 types of cookie. You can choose which cookies you're happy for us to use.
These essential cookies do things like remember your progress through a form. They always need to be on.
We use Google Analytics to measure how you use the website so we can improve it based on user needs. Google Analytics sets cookies that store anonymised information about: how you got to the site the pages you visit on forestresearch.gov.uk and how long you spend on each page what you click on while you're visiting the site
Some forestresearch.gov.uk pages may contain content from other sites, like YouTube or Flickr, which may set their own cookies. These sites are sometimes called ‘third party’ services. This tells us how many people are seeing the content and whether it’s useful.