Historic Wyre Forest

Background to the Historic Environment of Wyre Forest

Wyre Forest is situated in a valley landscape that has extensive evidence of early prehistoric activity and seasonal settlement. While excavations at a settlement site in Blackstone, near the river town of Bewdley during the 1970's demonstrated that Iron Age settlement was established at this location during the 2nd to 1st century BC, overall there has been a lack of contextual local landscape evidence for land-use during the Iron Age and Romano-British periods. There are, nonetheless, impressive settlement sites that survive as outliers of the current forest; the Roman fort and vicus at Wall Town and the promontory enclosure in Wassell Wood.

By the medieval period, control of the chase of Wyre Forest and its land fluctuated between royal and manorial ownership with substantial areas of park established and enclosed. The dispersed settlement pattern of Wyre probably began to develop at this time along with evidence of early iron workings adjacent to Baveney Brook. Industrial exploitation of mineral resources, woodland products and settlement continued to develop and expand during the post-medieval and modern centuries. Following construction of the Bewdley to Woofferton railway line in 1864, fruit growing, forest crafts and deep coal mining flourished during the 19th and early decades of the 20th century followed by a rapid decline, which included closure of the railway line in 1964.

The Grow With Wyre historic environment programme

Grow With Wyre was a Heritage Lottery Fund, Landscape Partnership Scheme that ran from 2008 until 2012. Grow With Wyre delivered 18 projects under 5 themes:

  1. Habitat Protection and Restoration
  2. Landscape Character and Heritage
  3. Sustainable Energy
  4. Education and Skills
  5. Access

Historic environment projects, including the Lidar survey, were part of Programme 2.

Prior to 2007, historic environment research in Wyre had concentrated on specific themes; such as Wyre's industrial heritage and in particular its association with coal mining. Other areas of research focused on specific locations; for example, the strip and record survey of 'The Hermitage' in the heart of Wyre. This was all valuable research, however, set against an historic landscape that had only a fragmentary physical record. Despite this, Wyre was considered to have a very high historic environment potential.  During development of the Grow With Wyre in 2006, the problem was address when the Forestry Commission funded a Lidar survey: cutting-edge technology that revealed the landscape of Wyre in amazing detail.

The survey revealed over 2000 surface features of archaeological potential. Between 2012-13 a volunteer-led survey carried out fieldwork to validate and record in detail over 1300 of these features. Find out more about the volunteers work by downloading the Wyre Forest Lidar paper.

The success of Grow With Wyre is now being taken forward by the Wyre Forest Landscape Partnership, which is working to deliver more and varied projects, and promote the unique environment of Wyre Forest, its towns, villages and businesses.