Once an area of woodland and heathland stretching over 30 miles from Nottingham to Worksop, Sherwood Forest was established as a royal hunting preserve in the 10th Century.
Revived by the Normans, the ‘forest’ (a legal term for woodland having a separate jurisdiction) was enjoyed by successive kings and the sandy heath and thickets of Sherwood provided ideal cover for deer and hunting with falcons.
The link to royalty continued as parts of the forest were acquired by nobility and four main ducal estates developed – Clumber, Welbeck, Thoresby and Worksop. This unique area, known as The Dukeries is full of heritage attractions.
Today you can visit the sites of Clumber and Thoresby and see grand houses and grounds. On the Welbeck Estate you will find the Harley Gallery and the Welbeck Farm Shop along with the School of Artisan Food.
Over time, Sherwood Forest has become fragmented as settlements developed and the rich wood resources found here were used for building materials. You can now find a cluster of main country parks that offer an insight into how this mighty forest may have once appeared – Rufford Abbey, Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve and Sherwood Pines Forest Park to name but a few. For more information on the history and heritage of the Sherwood Forest area, check out the team at Mercian Archaeological Services. Their many digs and excavation projects are helping to shape our knowledge of this historic part of Nottinghamshire.