Welcome to the Chopwell Wood Heritage Trail
What is Heritage? Types of Heritage
Heritage is about history and how the past has shaped how we live today. There has been woodland where Chopwell Wood is today for thousands of years. Over all those years people have always used wood for all sorts of things from building their homes and furniture, to burning it as fuel for cooking and to keep warm. Woodcrafts developed, and many ancient woodcrafts are still practiced today. For example, coppicing is an ancient woodcraft in which young stems on trees are used to make things like fences, shelters and, brooms. Coppiced wood has also been used to make charcoal for hundreds of years. The associated craft of green woodwork has also taken place for hundreds of years, making things like spoons, bowls and chair legs. These ancient woodcrafts are part of our cultural heritage.
The types of trees found in Chopwell Wood and the uses of the timber from them, have changed over time. It wasn’t until the 20th century that conifer trees arrived in great numbers when the Forestry Commission took over management of the woodland. Chopwell Wood today is used mostly for recreation purposes, but it is also a commercial working forest supplying wood to the timber industry. Forestry is part of our industrial heritage.
Chopwell Wood also has lots of natural heritage. There is a great variety of wildlife, including birds, animals and insects and they live in habitats amongst the trees, wildflowers, streams and ponds. Modern conservation work and looking after these habitats is an important part of maintaining the natural heritage.
The area also has many types of industrial heritage including the forestry industry, which developed rapidly during the 20th century. From the 18th century, there was paper making at the mill at Lintzford near the south west corner of Chopwell Wood. Water from the Pallis Burn, a stream that flows through Chopwell Wood, was used in the paper making process. There were some settlings tanks, made from bricks and stones, on the Pallis Burn that were used to collect the water. Paper making stopped at the mill in the 1920s, but these settling tanks can still be seen today.
Even earlier, coal was discovered in the area and mined from the 15th century onwards, with rapid developments in the coal industry and the related building of railways from about 1850. All the villages, such as Chopwell and High Spen that developed around Chopwell Wood did so because the collieries were there. Lots of aspects of this industrial heritage can be seen in Chopwell Wood and its surrounding villages today.
Much of the industrial heritage also gave rise to built heritage. The former railway bridge on Stoney Road is a good example. The bridge has been there since 1894. The village of Fiddlers Green in the middle of Chopwell Wood developed from a training centre for foresters in the early 20th century. The head forester lived in the cottage that is still at the entrance to Chopwell Wood near Hookergate.
So in and around the woodland we call Chopwell Wood, there is a large variety of heritage sites to see. They also give opportunity for lots of related activities, which we hope you will enjoy in the classroom.
Friends of Chopwell Wood - 2008
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