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Name:HANGER WOOD
HER No.:7266
Type of Record:Monument

Summary

Area of ancient and modified woodland.

Grid Reference:SP 997 495
Parish:STAGSDEN, BEDFORD BOROUGH, BEDFORDSHIRE
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Full Description

"The strip of land in the north-east of Stagsden parish, and south-east of the A422, has a history which is typical of this part of Bedfordshire. It has been strongly influenced by the geology and topography of the area, particularly by the south-west/north-east boulder clay ridge along which the parish boundary runs.

The original natural vegetation was woodland, but this was extensively cleared during Iron Age and Roman times. For example, a Roman farmstead has been identified in Kempston parish to the east, on the hilltop above Moor End. After the Roman period, with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons 1500 years ago, there was a serious population decline and therefore a contraction of the land under cultivation, and much woodland regenereated. This land was organised on the common field system, which survived into the 19th century. As the population increased again, and demand for land grew, woodland was cleared further and further up the ridge, leaving a pattern of small fields, several of which still preserved belts of woodland around their boundaries.

Hanger Wood ('hanger' means a wood on a hill) provided timber and underwood for the village during the Middle Ages. Its antiquity can be seen in the sinuous boundaries, especially at the south-western end, and in the rich composition of species. Its south-east boundary is of particular historical interest, as it lies along the ridge-top and parish boundary, along the line of an ancient, possibly even pre-historic ridgeway. The banks and ditches of this boundary and trackway still survive.

Clearance of the woodland continued into quite recent times. On a map of 1838, a group of small fields is shown in what is now the north-eastern end of the wood. These retain the "Hanger" name, and had probably not long been cleared. It is appropriate that they are now under woodland again.

Since the parish was enclosed in 1838, widespread re-organisation of the field pattern has taken place. However, some field boundaries still survive which are several hundred years old, either as thick hedges or as lines of ancient trees." (A. Simco 1984)

Protected Status:

  • SHINE: Hanger Wood ancient woodland

Monument Types

  • WOOD (Medieval to Modern - 1066 AD to 2050 AD)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events: None recorded

Sources and Further Reading

---SBD10908 - Index: 1984. Nature Conservancy Council Inventory.