From pre-history the Forest of Dean has been a protected landscape. The presence of iron ore meant use of wood for smelting by making charcoal. The ore itself outcropped around the edge of the coal basin in structures known as ‘scowles’. It was also declared a king’s hunting forest during Norman times. The Forest of Dean was also valued for its timber for ship building and as late as Nelson’s time his report led to the re-forestation of the Dean. The discovery of coal itself led to the introduction of coke fired furnaces, of which Whitecliff is the only remaining example in the country. Development of industry led to the mineral tramways that were superceded by the two railway lines of the Great Western (Coleford/Monmouth Branch) and the Severn and Wye. The Severn and Wye line in turn has been used to develop the Forest of Dean Cycleway.

There are also the existing initiatives of Puzzlewood, Clearwell CavesThe Secret Forest , GWR museum and Perrygrove railway, all run by private family  companies and the Dean Heritage Centre at Soudley.

In addition, there are the local historians and authors, many of whom have done a great deal of research into the  history of the Dean and the Local History Society and others who have developed walks, rediscovered old remains and created sculptures in the area.

Family History Research

Coleford Area Partnership offer occasional family history research starter sessions designed to stimulate individual interest. For more information contact info@coleford-area.org.uk

Heritage Open Days

Coleford Area Partnership are delighted to have co-ordinated Heritage Open Days for the Forest of Dean since 2009. For more information see the heritage website.