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Forest of Dean


The forest is steeped in history. The Royal Forest of Dean was first established by William the Conqueror, nearly one thousand years ago as a royal hunting forest. There are Iron Age forts and the area was settled by the Romans - the attraction was the natural resources of the area, including iron ore, ochre and charcoal which are produced from the woods. Later, the forest was used exclusively as Royal hunting grounds by the Tudor Kings (see royal forest), but its rich deposits of iron ore led to its becoming a major source of iron at this time. Timber from the forest was particularly fine and was regarded as the best source for building ships, inforest of deancluding possibly the Mary Rose, which happened to sink, and Admiral Lord Nelson's ship, the Victory. Later still, the exploitation of coal deposits led to a strong development of mining in the area, with commercial mining continuing until 1965. Interestingly, Edward I granted the powers that allowed those born in the Forest to mine coal freely. There were, and are still, a number of small private mines in operation, with Hopewell colliery now open to the public.

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