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Birklands

The Forest of Birklands is part of the ancient Sherwood Forest with a history of use as a royal hunting ground dating back to Norman times. Between the 12th and 14th centuries it provided a source of livestock for the deer park adjoining the King's Houses at Clipstone. In the early 18th century the land passed to the Duke of Newcastle and much of the forest is now owned by the Welbeck Estate and the neighbouring Thoresby Estate. Part of the land is now under conifer plantation managed by the Forestry Commission although many surviving remnants indicating its past uses.

The name Birklands is derived from the Old Norse Birk (birch) and lundr (wood) and has also been named on old documents as Birchwude, Birklaunde and Birkeland.

The Friends of Thynghowe are undertaking both documentary research and surveys on the ground to uncover the past of this significant area of Sherwood Forest. We wish to bring the heritage and the history of this area back into common knowledge, and to celebrate our part in that history.

There are tantalising references made to this area of Birklands in Sherwood Forest in ancient documents going back to the 1200s and earlier. This was a boundary and a meeting place between ancient tribes and kingdoms; possibly a bronze age burial mound; the Romans had a settlement nearby; King Edwin, one of the first Christian kings of England, died nearby; important meetings took place here during the Danelaw; the Normans may have used it as part of their administration of Forest Law; kings of England, Scandinavia and Europe hunted here and it was a route through Sherwood Forest for local people as well as knights, barons and bishops. But the past of this place has become obscured by woodland; almost everyone has forgotten its significance.

Significant events in the past of Birklands

Date Event Source
Roman

Cropmarks indicating Roman marching camp 300m north-west of Gleadthorpe Grange
Roman coin and pottery finds east of Market Warsop
Ditch and finds near site of King's Houses at Clipstone

National Monuments Records

633 Following the death of King Edwin of Northumbria at the Battle of Hatfield (probably at Cuckney) his body was taken through the Forest to Edwinstowe  
Danelaw Assemblies held on Thynghowe See page on Thynghowe
11th Century According to the Domesday Book a Saxon Manor existed at Clipstone, Gleadthorpe was referred to as Gletorp and Warsop as Wareshope. The Normans imposed strict laws over Sherwood Forest  
1164

First evidence of the King's Houses at Clipstone. For over 200 years six generations of Plantagenet kings stayed there for extended periods.

A Celebration of Kings Clipstone - 2005
1189
1212
1290
According to local legend the Parliament Oak, standing on the boundary of Clipstone Park, was the site of parliaments held by King Richard, King John and King Edward I. The tree still standing at that spot is reputed to be a descendant of the original oak. King John's parliament is mentioned as a local legend in the account of the 1816 perambulation of the Manor of Warsop.

An account of the 1816 perambulation of the Manor of Warsop
A Celebration of Kings Clipstone - 2005

13th Century St Edwin's Chapel, a chantry, was established in the reign of King John. A hermit was paid to live and pray here and these payments continued until the chapel was abolished by Henry VIII. The 6th Duke of Portland erected a tablet and iron cross to mark the site in 1912.  
16th and 17th Centuries Records include references to sales of timber and wood, a survey of deer and incidents of poaching. Summary of research sources
1710 The Duke of Newcastle created new ride was created through Birklands by warrant of Queen Anne. Around this time ownership was starting to pass from the Crown to the Duke.  
1816 The account of the 1816 Perambulation of the Manor of Warsop identifies many significant sites along the boundary Transcript of extract from account of 1816 perambulation
1818 The estates of the Dukeries finally acquire Birklands.  
1884 A Russian log cabin or 'dacha' was erected in Birklands to serve as a hunting lodge for the 6th Duke of Portland. The cabin is known to have existed during the Second World War, but was demolished after it fell into disrepair. National Monuments Record
19th and 20th Centuries Commercial forestry expanded with new plantations along the edge of Birklands and conifers planted within the former wood pasture.  
1942 The Army requisitioned Birklands on 12th March 1942 and remained until the 1960s. Many ammunition stores were sited in woodlands.  
1998 Wood pasture is recreated in some areas of Birklands with the felling of conifers and grazing by cattle.  
2002 A National Nature Reserve is created on part of Birklands.  http://www.natureonthemap.org.uk/
2011 Archaeological investigations begin on Thynghowe