Raincliffe Woods

An ancient woodland like this must have been in existence since the 1600s. It does not mean the trees are over 400 years old — there may be none of the original trees remaining that were part of the birth of this wood. But there has been a woodland at this place for almost half a millennium.

We have needed trees as long as we humans have walked the earth. So they were not left to grow undisturbed, but managed by pollarding or coppicing, or sometimes the whole trees were felled and put to use.

If you linger in the woods you might imagine you can hear the sounds of those workers from another age setting up camp. Bodgers carving clog soles in a woodworking shed, brewing up tea over an open fire, then going back to the business of making tent pegs, wooden spoons and spurtles or fence posts.

These trees at Raincliffe bear the scars of a managed woodland, but long after the clogs went out of fashion, the tent pegs and spurltes broke, and the fences fell down, these ancient trees live on.

(Editor’s Note: I haven’t uncovered any evidence that these particular woods were frequented by Bodgers. But Dorothy Hartley’s excellent book Made in England provides info on traditional woodworking that look place almost a hundred years ago.)

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