Top 10 Sensational Facts about New Forest, United Kingdom


The New Forest is one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland and forest in Southern England, covering southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire.

It was proclaimed a royal forest by William the Conqueror and featured in the Domesday Book.

1. Its pre-existing rights of common pasture are recognised to date

New Forest, United Kingdom- Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Pre-existing rights of common pasture are still recognised today and are being enforced by official verderers and agisters so as to preserve the natural beauty and good traditional character of the Forest.

In New Forest, a verderer is an unpaid officer whose duty is to regulate and protect the interests of the New Forest commoners .

An agister on the other hand is a local official whose role is to assist the Verderers with their duty to manage the free-roaming animals that the local commoners are allowed to release onto the forest.

2. Became a source of timber for the Royal Navy

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In the 18th century, the New Forest became a source of timber for the Royal Navy. It remains a habitat for many rare birds and mammals.

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom’s naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years’ War against France.

The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK’s armed services, it is consequently known as the Senior Service.

3. New Forest is a biological and geological site of special scientific interest

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New Forest, a 71,474-acre is a biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Several areas are Geological Conservation Review and Nature Conservation Review sites.

It is a Special Area of Conservation, a Ramsar site and a Special Protection Area.

4. It covers two parliamentary constituencies

The New Forest covers two parliamentary constituencies. That is, New Forest East and New Forest West.

New Forest East is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1997 by Julian Lewis, a member of the Conservative Party.

On the other hand, New Forest West is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1997 by Desmond Swayne, of the Conservative party

5. New Forest was once a deciduous woodland

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term deciduous means “falling off at maturity” and “tending to fall off”, in reference to trees and shrubs that seasonally shed leaves, usually in the autumn; to the shedding of petals, after flowering; and to the shedding of ripe fruit

Like much of England, the site of the New Forest was once deciduous woodland, recolonised by birch and eventually beech and oak after the withdrawal of the ice sheets starting around 12,000 years ago.

Some areas were cleared for cultivation from the Bronze Age onwards; the poor quality of the soil in the New Forest meant that the cleared areas turned into heathland “waste”, which may have been used even then as grazing land for horses.

There was still a significant amount of woodland in this part of Britain, but this was gradually reduced, particularly towards the end of the Middle Iron Age around 250–100 BC, and most importantly the 12th and 13th centuries.

6.  There are round barrows within its boundaries

There are around 250 round barrows within its boundaries and scattered boiling mounds, and it also includes about 150 scheduled monuments. A round barrow is a type of tumulus and is one of the most common types of archaeological monuments.

One such barrow, in particular, may represent the only known inhumation burial of the Early Iron Age and the only known Hallstatt culture burial in Britain; however, the acidity of the soil means that bone very rarely survives.

7. The area of New Forest became a site of the Jutish Kingdom

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Following Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain, according to Florence of Worcester, the area became the site of the Jutish kingdom of Ytene; this name was the genitive plural of Yt meaning “Jute”.

The Jutes were one of the early Anglo-Saxon tribal groups who colonised this area of southern Hampshire. The word ytene (or ettin) is also found locally as a synonym for giant and features heavily in local folklore.

8. Was proclaimed a royal forest in 1079

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Following the Norman Conquest, the New Forest was proclaimed a royal forest, in about 1079, by William the Conqueror.

It was used for royal hunts, mainly for deer. It was created at the expense of more than 20 small hamlets and isolated farmsteads; hence it became ‘new’ as a single compact area.

9. Was recorded in Domesday Book in 1086

Domesday Book- Author; Andrews, William- Wikimedia

The New Forest was first recorded as Nova Foresta in Domesday Book in 1086, where a section devoted to it is interpolated between lands of the king’s thegns and the town of Southampton; it is the only forest that the book describes in detail.

12th-century chroniclers alleged that William had created the forest by evicting the inhabitants of 36 parishes, reducing a flourishing district to a wasteland.

However, this account is thought dubious by most historians, as the poor soil in much of the area is believed to have been incapable of supporting large-scale agriculture, and significant areas appear to have always been uninhabited.

10. Two of William the conquerer’s sons died in the forest

King William 1- Author; National Portrait Gallery- Wikimedia

King William I, commonly known as William the Conqueror was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087.

Two of William’s sons died in the forest: Prince Richard sometime between 1069 and 1075, and King William II (William Rufus) in 1100.

Local folklore asserted that this was punishment for the crimes committed by William when he created his New Forest.