Asking the History Questions

These are some of the main questions to help you find out more about the history.

  • What industries are recorded locally?
  • What use did these make of woodlands?
  • Who have been the woodland owners?
  • When was the wood first recorded? (including place-name and field boundary evidence)
  • How was the wood managed in the past?
  • What crafts were carried on in the wood?
  • Are there any records of clearance or planting within the wood / has the boundary changed?

Information can be found from a variety of sources and in different places although an internet search will usually get you started. See ‘Documentary Sources’ for more on sources and places to search.

Look on a modern map and an older map note down the nearest village and any place names or prominent features close to the woodland. These names will help when searching for keywords in references and archival searches.

It is worth contacting the woodland’s landowner if historical research is planned as they should have details of where the estate archives are held. If you are intending to carry out surveys, the woodland’s landowner should already have been contacted to ask for permission to do so. See Recording Features: Getting Started for more information.

It is important to plan the research due to the wide range of sources which may be available. Decide on the amount of time which can be spent on documentary research and what the budget might be. Depending on the location of the sources of information, there may be travel costs and, or costs for copying material.

Finally try to stay focused on addressing your initial set of questions but note any points of interest for future investigation. You are bound to come across all sorts of very interesting snippets of information;  make a note of them – you can always go back to them later.