The Wychwood

research revealed that the people of this area had always been difficult to get to know. If a traveller were lucky, he'd get through unscathed, but his money wouldn't. Highwaymen, they called them, then. There's a hanging tree in the Wychwood, with the carved initials of two victims of the King's justice; "E.D., T.D. 1784". They were Edward and Thomas Dunsden, two notorious (and, previously, elusive) felons.

We know quite a lot about the Wychwood; and we know very little. We know the Romans were here, and hereabouts, probably in a pretty big way. But quite how...? There's an oval-shaped enclosure delineated by the attractively-named Grims Ditch, which is now thought to be the boundary of an oppidum, or tribal centre, but we don't know which tribe. (Grims Ditch, or Grims Dyke, is a fairly common name in England. Grim is the Anglo-Saxon word for the devil. The Early English ascribed many artificial features of the landscape as the work of the devil.)

There's even a theory that these Romano-Celts hung around in the woodlands while the Anglo-Saxons ravaged the countryside. Stray ravagers would simply dissolve into the greenery - never to re-emerge. Old habits die hard, and this un-named tribe carried on their traditions over the centuries.

It's also pretty clear that the Wychwood was extensively managed in Roman times. Fields had been hewn out of the forest, and much of the remaining woodland would have been coppiced, treating it as a crop-yielding resource, rather than a branch of the leisure industry. Today, Grims Ditch loses itself in the trees. If it really was the oppidum-wall, the area it encloses, and probably a lot more, would have been clear ground.

Old Money Old Money What's in a Name? What's in a Name?
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