From tales of Robin Hood in Sherwood Forest to King Charles II hiding in the Royal Oak, the trees and woodlands of the UK are woven into its history. Some of our ancient trees are thousands of years old, so they’ve certainly witnessed a lot of it along the way! If you’re a history lover who enjoys a walk in the woods, check out these woodlands featuring sites of historic interest.

1. Carnmoney Hill, Newtonabbey, Northern Ireland

Carn Monaidh (Cairn of the Bog) boasts stunning views across the city of Belfast, its lough and even as far as Scotland. With a wealth of history and folklore to discover, at Carnmoney Hill you'll find remains of ancient ráths (ringforts), along with prehistoric underground tunnels known as souterrains and lime kilns, possibly dating to 500 BC.

2. Ashenbank Wood, Kent

As the name perhaps suggests, there are the remnants of a medieval (or possibly older) wooded bank passing through the middle of Ashenbank Wood. Up on higher ground you’ll find a scheduled ancient monument: a Bronze Age barrow, dating from 2400-1500 BC. You can also discover remains of Second World War bunkers, built by the RAF.

3. Little Doward Woods, Wye Valley

These woodlands boast breathtaking views over the spectacular Wye Valley. At the top of the hill you’ll find Little Doward Camp, an ancient hill fort and stronghold of Iron Age chieftains. Historians have also linked the fort with the 5th century warlord Vortigern, said to have fled here from the invading Saxons.

Heritage health and safety

Be careful not to hurt yourself when exploring historical sites or to damage any of the artefacts. Best to not go clambering over things and take extra care around shafts, caves and sinkholes.

4. Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch, Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)

Mentioned in the Mabinogion, the famous collection of Welsh legends, as the last resting place of Pryderi, King of Dyfed, this special woodland forms part of Britain’s temperate rainforest. Hidden among the trees of Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch you’ll find shafts, sinkholes and abandoned farmsteads, including Snowdonia hall-house, a grand residence dating back to the 1500s.

5. Moncreiffe Hill, Perth, Scotland

The ancient name for Moncreiffe aptly translates to 'hill of the tree'. With two Iron Age hillforts to explore and panoramic views, Moncreiffe Hill has plenty to offer walkers, adventurers and history lovers alike. Probably an important Pictish royal centre, it was the site of a battle for the throne between Pict warlords Angus and Alpin in 728 AD. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels too!

6. Archers Wood, Cambridgeshire

Close to the Roman road of Ermine Street, Archers Wood derives its name from its notoriety as a hideout for highwaymen. The wood was purportedly cut back the length of a bow-shot from the road to protect travellers from surprise attacks. Medieval earthworks within this peaceful woodland are the remnants of the 12th century Sawtry Judith Manor, built for a niece of William the Conqueror and now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

7. Nidd Gorge, Yorkshire

Carved out by the River Nidd during the last Ice Age, Nidd Gorge consists of five woods and plenty of variety. Above the gorge you’ll find the hillfort of Gates Hill Camp that has been a site of human activity since the Stone Age. Finds of Civil War coins and munitions suggest it also served as a base for Lord Fairfax’s Roundheads during the 1644 siege of Knaresborough Castle.

8. Kings Wood, Cornwall

Close to the Cornish coast and running alongside the St Austell River, Kings Wood is a rich and vibrant woodland that has historic links to Cornwall’s industrial past. Look out for stone walls, ruined cottages, silt ponds and the remnants of tin streaming.

9. Joyden’s Wood, Bexley, Greater London

Just thirteen miles from central London, this peaceful oasis is a great place to escape and transport yourself to the ancient past. At Joyden's Wood you’ll find evidence of the impressive mile-long ‘Faesten Dic’, a Saxon dyke designed to keep out the Romans. Alongside evidence of medieval activity, you’ll find Second World War bomb craters and a sculpture commemorating the RAF fighters that crashed in the wood.

Listen to our podcast exploring Joyden's Wood's history.

10. Graig Fawr, Margam, South Wales

From a stone circle to a 14th century monk’s bath house, all the way up to a World War II radar station, Graig Fawr has archaeology galore. With impressive sea views, an Iron Age hillfort and an 1830s Tudor Gothic castle nearby, what are you waiting for?

Visiting woods

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