The New Forest

Hampshire

 

 

The New Forest, lying now in Hampshire and Wiltshire, is hardly "new," created as it was in 1079 by William I for his own personal use for hunting of deer and boar, all its inhabitants being evicted by William from the 36 parishes within its boundaries.

 

Originally the Anglo Saxon Great Forest of Ytene, the woodland had areas cleared and cultivated during the Bronze Age, as indicated by the many round barrows in the area, but soil quality was too poor for sustained agriculture.

 

Retribution came for the Saxons threefold, when in 1081 William's son and heir Richard was "mauled by a stag," in 1099 his grandson Henry was "hung on boughs," and in 1100 a second son King William II "Rufus" was shot with an arrow, all killed in the New Forest, all in suspicious circumstances.

 

Rufus, so called because of his ruddy complexion, had become King of England when, on the death of his father in 1087, his lands in Normandy and England were divided between two sons. He despised all the English and was hated by them in return. He never married or had any children, and was considered homosexual by his chroniclers.

 

It is also recorded that William retained some of his Viking Pagan traditions, his favourite oath being to the God Loki. It is therefore relevant that his death occurred on Lammas day, the day when kings sacrifice themselves for the good of the harvest, before being resurrected, "the king is dead long live the king." He is said to have thrown himself  on the broken shaft of an arrow thereby killing himself. A stone, now clad in iron due to vandalisation, stands in the New Forest marking the place of his death.

 

The crown came to his younger brother, Henry I, who had a Saxon mother, was born in Selby Yorkshire, took a Saxon bride, and spoke English, thus gaining considerable support from Saxon nobles.

 

The New Forest is sparsely inhabited, with only a few villages within its boundaries, Lyndhurst being the largest, and Burley, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, with the towns of Christchurch, New Milton, Milford on Sea and Lymington lying on its southern coastal side.

 

Although commons rights were awarded in 1698, the Royal Navy encroached into much of the forest in their quest for "hearts of oak," with further dissemination caused by the World Wars and tempest, but the forest, being in a continual flux, is gradually being restored.

 

Grazing rights awarded to the commoners allow for cattle, ponies, donkeys and pigs (I believe) but not sheep. There are also native "wild" New Forest Ponies and deer present.

   

New Forest Ponies

 

Heathland

 

The Woodland

 

A Shady Glade

 

Woodland Clearing

 

The Rufus Stone

 

 

 

 

Britain Tour