The Forest Of Knaresborough
1767 Perambulation Boundary Stones
Inspired by the late great Mike Brough and his wonderful book History & Hikes of the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Knaresborough. I have updated the forest stone addresses using What3Words. Many of the stones are public access although some do need you to seek the landowners permission, which can be found in Mike's book, I would recommend it to everyone and anyone interested in completing his great walks along the historic boundary of the Forest of Knaresborough, something I will be doing soon.
The Forest of Knaresborough
Our Norman ancestors capitalised on the lands of the Anglo Saxon and those who came before, like the Romans and Ancient Britons. The Normans however were the first to attempt to enclose hunting areas with the creation of the medieval forest and their laws governing the hunting of animals.
After 1066, by royal prerogative forest law was widely applied. The law was designed to protect the venison and the vert, the "noble" animals of the chase – notably red and fallow deer, the roe deer, and the wild boar – and the greenery that sustained them. Forests were designed as hunting areas reserved for the monarch or (by invitation) the aristocracy. Wikipedia.
The Royal Forest of Knaresborough was a substantial fertile forest, land overflowing with plentiful resources for both man and beast. It was a favourite of Edward III and his son John of Gaunt, a playground for the rich and privileged, a place where the common man found it difficult to make-a living, as restrictions placed upon them made it almost impossible to survive.
However things began to change after 1217 with the Charter of The Forest.
The Charter of the Forest was first issued on 6 November 1217 at St Paul's Cathedral, London, as a complementary charter to Magna Carta from which it had evolved. It was reissued in 1225 with a number of minor changes to wording, and then was joined with Magna Carta in the Confirmation of Charters in 1297.
At a time when royal forests were the most important potential source of fuel for cooking, heating and industries such as charcoal burning, and of such hotly defended rights as pannage (pasture for their pigs), estover (collecting firewood), agistment (grazing), or turbary (cutting of turf for fuel), this charter was almost unique in providing a degree of economic protection for free men who used the forest to forage for food and to graze their animals. In contrast to Magna Carta, which dealt with the rights of barons, it restored to the common man some real rights, privileges and protections against the abuses of an encroaching aristocracy. For many years it was regarded as a development of great significance in England's constitutional history, with the great seventeenth-century jurist Sir Edward Coke referring to it along with Magna Carta as the Charters of England's Liberties, and Sir William Blackstone remarking in the eighteenth century that:
There is no transaction in the antient part of our English history more interesting and important, than … the charters of liberties, emphatically stiled THE GREAT CHARTER and CHARTER OF THE FOREST. Wikipedia