Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The King's Wade

When the boundaries of Sherwood Forest were defined in the early 13th century it was necessary to document these new boundaries (see boundaries page for more information).

This was undertaken by perambulation - literally a walking of the boundaries.

A number of perambulations are recorderd from Medieval Sherwood Forest.

All of these begin in the northeast corner of the forest at a place called Cuningeswath.

This name is old Scandinavian for King's (Cuninges) wade (wath) or ford.

All perambulations from 1218 onwards begin at this ford.

The ford is on the King's road to York, where it fords the river Meden. This ford is overlooked by Bothamsall Castle (see Bothamsall Castle entry)- a conquest Motte and Bailey fortification belonging to the king.

Could this King's ford on the King's Highway overlooked by the King's Caslte have been part of the boundary of the original Norman Forest?

More on hunting for the Norman Forest, the King's castle at Bothamsall, and the medieval forest perambulations to come soon...


  1. The place is known as Conjure Alders today. It did form the start point of the perambulations in the medieval period but by Henry VIII's day they started in Nottingham, either at the castle or at Trent Bridge. The last perambulation in 1662 started in Nottingham.

    Bothamsall castle may have once been a Saxon manor house that was converted to a castle. I don't think there has ever been a serious excavation of the site. Only the motte is left and it is believed the bailey has been ploughed away over the centuries.

    In King John' time the boundaries of Sherwood may have extended further easy from Coningswath to form what is known as the Forest of the Clay. The area was de-forested around the time of the 1st perambulation in 1218.

  2. Hi, thanks for commenting.

    You are right- in the time of the Angevin Kings (Henry II, Richard I and King John) the forest is believed to have extended to cover all of Nottinghamshire North and West of the Trent.

    The area on the Mercia Mudstones was indeed called the Forest of the Clay and was referred to in relation to Maud De Cuax and her keepership of the Forests of Nottingham and Clay.


    As you say Bothamsall Castle may have been a Saxon Stronghold- it was held by Earl Tosti (brother of Harold Godwinson) I have held back from writing about it so far because myself and James Wright have publication that is coming out in the Thoroton Society Transactions in the new year on the subject.

    We did an archaeological survey of the site- the results of the landscape assessment of the castle and its relationship to the forest and Cuningeswath will be published soon. The northern part of the bailey has been ploughed away unfortunately...


    You are right on the last perambulation of the forest starting at Nottingham

    The 1662 perambulation does start at Nottingham and is very useful as it list in more detail the mere points and wy markers of the forest boundary...

    I like your posts on the Milton Mausoleum, it is outside the scope of this site- but i would love to hear more about the Dukeries and later history of Sherwood Forest!

    Thanks again