Woodland can hide archaeology from earlier times. Evidence of past land use includes old field boundaries, lynchets and ridge and furrow. These are clues that woodlands in the High Weald have come and gone as economic fortunes have changed.
Banks in woodlands
Earthworks running through woodland can represent:
- administrative boundaries
- field boundaries .
- parish or estate boundaries
These earthworks are usually banks and ditches, sometimes substantial in nature. These can often be identified on estate or historical ordnance survey maps. The enclosure of woodland areas for arable or pasture may also be indicated by banks and ditches, possibly also marked by overgrown hedges. Abandoned fields are likely to have been colonised by scrub or secondary woodland.
Lynchets are formed from the movement and build up of soil after ploughing on sloping land and may be very shallow and difficult to identify with the colonisation of secondary woodland when fields have been abandoned.
Ridge and Furrow
Ridge and furrow earthworks result from the repeated ploughing of narrow strips of land. The medieval practice can be recognised by curved and wide ridges and furrows; later practice resulted in straighter and narrower ridges.
Routeways crossing woodland may not be bounded by banks and ditches. Heavily used routes which may have become worn to a level below that of the surrounding land are called hollow ways and are more likely to exist on sloping ground.
Mounds and depressions form a very general category of archaeological earthworks and may indicate settlement, water features, quarrying and other industry. Map and historical research together with place names may give some indication of the type of activity.