A Field Guide to the Royal Forest of Exmoor is a very accessible little book, easy to thumb through, and likely to be travelling in a rucksack with many a keen walker enjoying Exmoor. It’s the kind of guide that helps you to read the landscape.
Thanks to support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, this new booklet about the Royal Forest of Exmoor was launched yesterday, at the Exmoor Archaeology Forum. It was created through the Heart of Exmoor scheme, authored by the historian Mary Siraut and published by the Exmoor National Park Authority.
The guide explores the history of the Royal Forest of Exmoor from the Anglo-Saxon period until the end of the 19th century. It charts the long history as a medieval hunting forest when it was used to graze livestock and to provide revenue for the Crown. It shows how the Forest was transformed during the 19th century by the creation of roads, settlements and farms to become the landscape we recognise today. The field guide interprets a wide range of fascinating Exmoor locations to tell the story of the Royal Forest of Exmoor.
The ancient Royal Forests are not a very well known or widely understood part of our countryside’s cultural heritage. The forest located at what is now the heart of Exmoor National Park was an intimidating area of moorland, and not a wooded forest as most people assume. You can still trace the imprint of the forest – and each year its boundary is stomped along by people who undertake the annual Exmoor Perambulation endurance walk.
The author Mary Siraut is well known for her book Exmoor, the Making of an English Upland and she is the County Editor of the Somerset Victoria County History. The guide editors are Faye Balmond (our Moorland Heritage Officer) and Rob Wilson-North (Conservation Manager for Exmoor National Park Authority).
The field guide is now available from Exmoor’s National Park Centres.