Royal Forests – Hunting and Other Forest Use in Medieval England

  • Della Hooke
Part of the World Forests book series (WFSE, volume 9)


Hunting in wooded regions was a major part of the lives of kings and their followers from early medieval times. Under the Norman kings huge areas were deliberately set aside for this purpose. It gave rise to a rich body of documentary evidence and literary works, playing a noteworthy role, too, in medieval lore and legend. The use of the woods for pasture was not normally precluded by this usage. However, economic forces were increasingly to conflict with the preservation of so much woodland and the forest law that was so restrictive, especially the requirement for additional land for agriculture. Deer-parks were enclosed and forests diminished in size and in later historical times the latter were seen primarily as a source of timber. Hunting itself, however, continued but in a very different form, moving to the rural countryside over most of lowland England until it faced present-day legislation.


Wild Boar Dead Wood Thirteenth Century Fallow Deer Twelfth Century 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Attenborough FL (1922) The laws of the earliest English kings. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 50–51Google Scholar
  2. Baillie-Grohman WA, Baillie-Grohman F (eds) (1909) The master of game: the oldest English book on hunting, 2nd edn. Chatto and Windus, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Baring-Gould, Revd S (1872) Lives of the saints, vol 3. John Hodges, London, pp 33–35Google Scholar
  4. Barron WR (ed and trans) (1998) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, 2nd edn. Manchester University Press, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  5. Bennett AW, Smithers GV (eds) (1968) Early Middle English verse and prose. Clarendon, Oxford, 204Google Scholar
  6. Birch W, De Gray (1885–1899) Cartularium saxonicum. Whiting & Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  7. Birrell JR (1980) The medieval English forest. J Forest Hist 24(2):78–85Google Scholar
  8. Bise G (1984) The hunting book by Gaston Phoebus, trans: Tallon JB. Regent Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Cantor L (1982) Forests, chases, parks and warrens. In: Cantor L (ed) The English medieval landscape. Croom Helm, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Cantor L (1987) The changing English countryside 1400–1700. Routledge and Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Cummins J (1988) The hound and the hawk. St Martin’s, New York, pp 187–194Google Scholar
  12. Danielsson B (1977) William Twiti, The art of hunting. Stockholm studies in English XXXVII. Almqvuist and Wiksell International, Stockholm, pp 17–20Google Scholar
  13. Darby HC (1977) Domesday England. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  14. Derbyshire VCH I (1905) The Victoria History of the county of Derby, Vol I. In: Page W (ed), Constable & Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Everitt A (1986) Continuity and colonization: the evolution of Kentish settlement. Leicester University Press, LeicesterGoogle Scholar
  16. Fairbrother JR (1984) Faccombe Netherton. Archaeological and historical research I. City of London Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Gilbert JM (1979) Hunting and hunting reserves in medieval Scotland. John Donald, Edinburgh, pp 10–11Google Scholar
  18. Gloucestershire VCH II (1907) The Victoria History of the county of Gloucestershire, Vol II. In: Page W (ed), Constable & Co, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Grant R (1991) The royal forests of England. Alan Sutton, StroudGoogle Scholar
  20. Heyne M (ed) (1877) Deutsches Wörterbuch von Jacob Grimm und Wilhelm Grimm. Vierten Bandes, zweite Abteilung. S Hirzel, Leipzig, p 151Google Scholar
  21. Hooke D (1981) Anglo-Saxon landscapes of the West Midlands: the charter evidence, Br Archaeol Rep, British series 95. British Archaeological Report, Oxford, pp 234–235Google Scholar
  22. Hooke D (1983) The landscape of Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire: the charter evidence. Department of Adult Education, the University of Keele, Keele, Staffs: 78–82, fig 2viGoogle Scholar
  23. Hooke D (1985) The Anglo-Saxon landscape. The kingdom of the Hwicce. Manchester University Press, Manchester, pp 75–93Google Scholar
  24. Hooke D (1989) Pre-conquest woodland: its distribution and usage. Agric Hist Rev 38:113–129Google Scholar
  25. Hooke D (1990) Worcestershire Anglo-Saxon charter-bounds. Boydell, WoodbridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Hooke D (1994) Pre-conquest charter-bounds of Devon and Cornwall. Boydell, Woodbridge, pp 105–112Google Scholar
  27. Hooke D (1998a) Medieval forests and parks in southern and central England. In: Watkins C (ed) European woods and forests. Studies in cultural history. CAB International, New York, pp 19–32Google Scholar
  28. Hooke D (1998b) The landscape of Anglo-Saxon England. Leicester University Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  29. Hooke D (1999) The role of the historical geographer today. Norsk Geogr Tidsskr 53(2):61–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hooke D (2006) England’s landscape. The West Midlands: English Heritage. HarperCollins, London, pp 145–149Google Scholar
  31. Hooke D (2008) Early medieval woodland and the place-name term leah. In: Padel OJ, Parsons DN (eds) A commodity of good names. Essays in honour of Margaret Gelling. Saun Tyas, Donington, pp 365–376Google Scholar
  32. Hooke D (2011) The woodland landscape of early medieval England. In: Higham NJ, Ryan, MJ (eds) Place-names, language and the Anglo-Saxon landscape. Boydell, Woodbridge, pp 143–176Google Scholar
  33. Jones G, Jones T (eds) (1949) The Mabinogion. Dent, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Kibble J (1928, repr. 1999) Wychwood Forest and its border places. Wychwood, Charlbury: 10Google Scholar
  35. Liebermann F (1903) Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, Vol I. Max Niemeyer, Halle, pp 444–455Google Scholar
  36. Metz W (1954) Das ‘gehagio regis’ der Langobarden und die deutschen Hagenortsnamen. Beitrage zur Namenforschung in Verbindung mit Ernst Dickenmann, herausgegeben von Hans Krahe, Band 5. Carl Winter, Heidelberg, pp 39–51Google Scholar
  37. MGH Monumenta Germaniae Historica. i. 86, Captula de Villis, c 36Google Scholar
  38. Niermeyer JF (1976) Mediae latinitatis Lexica minus. EJ Brill, Leiden, pp 443–444Google Scholar
  39. OED (ed) (1979) The compact edition of the Oxford English dictionary, vol 1. Book Club Associates, London, p 442Google Scholar
  40. Percy T (1996) Reliques of Ancient Poetry, vil. Ii. Routledge, London, p 76Google Scholar
  41. Phoebus Gaston (1387–89) Livre de la chasse. Facsimile edition: The hunting book of Gaston Pebus, with comment and trans by Thomas M, Avril F, Schlag W (1998). Harvey Miller, London.Google Scholar
  42. Rackham O (1996) Trees and woodland in the British landscape, revised edition. Phoenix, London, pp 50–51Google Scholar
  43. Robertson AJ (ed and trans) (1925) The laws of the kings of England to Henry I. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 215, c.80Google Scholar
  44. Rooney A (1993) Hunting in medieval English literature. Boydell, Woodbridge, pp 8–11, 18–20Google Scholar
  45. Sawyer PH (1968) Anglo-Saxon charters: an annotated list and bibliography. Royal Historical Society, LondonGoogle Scholar
  46. Schumer B (1984) The evolution of Wychwood to 1400: pioneers, frontiers and forests. Department Engl Local Hist Occas Pap No 6. Leicester University Press, Leicester, pp 41–44Google Scholar
  47. Simpson J, Roud S (eds) (2000) A dictionary of English folklore. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 390Google Scholar
  48. Stevenson WH (ed) (1904) De rebus gestis Aelfredi: Asser’s life of King Alfred. Clarendon, Oxford, p 20, 59: De rebus gestis Aelfredi c.22, 76Google Scholar
  49. Swanton M (ed and trans) (1996) The Anglo-Saxon chronicle. Dent, LondonGoogle Scholar
  50. Thorpe B (1865) Diplomatarium Anglicum AEvi Saxonici. Macmilland and Co., London, p 574Google Scholar
  51. von den Abeele B (1994) La fauconnerie au moyen age: connaissance, affaitage et medicine des oiseaux de chasse. Klincksieck, ParisGoogle Scholar
  52. West J (1964) The forest offenders of medieval Worcestershire. Folk Life 2:80–115Google Scholar
  53. Whitelock D (1955) English historical documents, I, c. 500–1042. Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, p 5Google Scholar
  54. William of Malmebury (c. 1090–1143) (1964) De gestis regum, edited from manuscripts by William Stubbs, Kraus repr. Millwood, NY 271Google Scholar
  55. Williams A, Martin GH (eds) (1992) Domesday book. A complete translation (Alecto Historical Editions). Penguin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  56. Wiltshire VCH IV (1959) The Victoria History of the county of Wiltshire, Vol IV. In: Crittall E (ed), Constable & Co, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V.  2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations