Hawking and hunting were the principal peacetime pursuits of most kings and their nobles, both before and after the Conquest; falconers, foresters and huntsmen were therefore an essential part of their entourages and households. The Bayeux Tapestry has vivid illustrations of Harold accompanied by his hawks and dogs on his fateful journey to Normandy.
Dozens of foresters and huntsmen are recorded in Domesday Book. Many of the foresters were small fry, responsible for local hunting facilities; but a few were significant landholders. Richard the forester, who held land in Staffordshire and Warwickshire, was the best-endowed of these. In Staffordshire he was a tenant-in-chief; in Warwickshire his lands were included in the collective fief of the minor landholders.
For further information, see H.C. Darby, Domesday England (1977); and Ann Williams, The English and the Norman Conquest (1995).
See also New Forest.