Our woodland is one patch in a quilt of several hundred acres of woodland that cover the chalk escarpment of the Chilterns. Today we walked on an adjacent patch that is now a nature reserve.
In ancient times, the woods were managed for the local industries of firewood and furniture. Semi-mature trees were cut above the ground for their timber, and the stumps resprouted into several new trunks. In this way, the trees could live for hundreds of years.
Sadly it is difficult to manage the woodland this way today as the muntjac eat the new boughs before they can get established. Sometimes when we pollard a tree we surround the trunk with a barrier of newly cut hawthorn branches. The muntjac have sensitive noses and are reluctant to push through to the new growth, so we can save the regrowth on some trees this way.
The ground in the woods is very bumpy. You may be able to see a hollow in the foregound of this image. It is probably a medieval charcoal pit where charcoal was produced on site. Larger hollows are often saw pits where the wood was sawn into planks or into smaller sticks that were then turned into chair legs by the wonderfully named "bodgers".