Friday, 28 October 2011

Gadding About in the Forest

Medieval Sherwood Forest was criss-crossed by a number of roads winding through the heath and woodland heading out from Nottingham to the towns of the north.

The Kings Highway ran from Nottingham to York, passing the Cistercian Abbey at Rufford. It crossed the great heaths of Basford Lyngges the great common of Arnold, and then across Salterford Waste.

It then passed through the wooded area of Balkhaw, near to the mighty oaks of Hay Wode, past ye Byschope wode- belonging to the Arch-Bishop of York and the Burne Abotote Wode of the Abbot of Rufford before crossing the heathland of the lordship of Rufford Abbey.

Sanctuary and refreshment could then be sought at Rufford Abbey before journeying on to the north.

The western highway by-passed the enormous Royal Deer Park of Bestwood, following the park pale (fence) to the west. After passing Bulwel towne and crossing the heathland of Kyghill refuge could similarly be sought at the Augustinian Priory of Newstead.

Amongst the vagabonds, travellers, outlaws, malefactors, pilgrims and foresters, farmers, tradesmen and others who would have passed by on the roads…

A traveller might meet a monk ‘gadding about the forest’

‘Gadding about’- is to wander aimlessly and without purpose - a phrase still used locally to this day!

Many a complaint was issued regarding the monks of Newstead ‘gadding about’ – effectively going AWOL from the priory (without permission of the prior!)

In 1304 the monks there were forbidden to keep more than 2 horses- possibly to try to reduce the number of monks on the loose in the Forest!

(More on the priors of Newstead, the monks of Rufford and journeys through the landscape of Medieval Sherwood Forest soon)

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