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woodland

Latin, silva.

Eleventh century England was a wooded, though not a densely forested country. It has been estimated that about 15% of the area surveyed in Domesday Book was woodland.

Domesday is the only source to record woodland in breadth and depth. Its record of woodland can be shown to be incomplete in some areas; and the confusing variety of formulae and measures employed by the scribes make interpretation difficult. Nevertheless, in the absence of any comparable national or even regional survey from earlier or later centuries, it is the basic source for our knowledge of the distribution of ancient woodland. Anglo-Saxon charters and place-names give some clues (though most of the latter are first recorded in Domesday Book), and archaeology makes an increasing contribution; but without Domesday Book our knowledge would be slight and patchy.

For further information on woodland, see H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977), chapter 6; Oliver Rackham, Trees and woodland in the British landscape (2nd edition, 1990), and Oliver Rackham, Ancient woodland: its history, vegetation and uses in England (revised edition, 2003).

See also
appurtenances, enclosure, and New Forest.
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