Woodland in the East Staffordshire landscape

Historian article

By Richard Stone, published 22nd May 2019

Richard Stone explains that the natural landscape can be a resource for anyone exploring local topography.

The idea for researching this topic came while reading Oliver Rackham’s excellent Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape. Calculations based on woodland recorded in Domesday Book revealed my home county of Staffordshire, with 32 per cent by surface land area, as the second most wooded county (after neighbouring Worcestershire) in Norman England. Despite this woodland heritage, Staffordshire does not feature in Dr Rackham’s book (he admits a research ‘bias’ to eastern England). Why was medieval Staffordshire so wooded? Where was this Domesday silva? What was it used for? Does any of this woodland survive? If not, why and when was it cleared? These were the questions I set out to try and answer.