Forests and Chases in England and Wales, c. 1000 to c. 1850

A Glossary of Terms and Definitions

























Latin terms

A Glossary of Place-name Elements Relative to Forests and Woodland


We have brought together upwards of 740 words and phrases in use by, or relevant to those whose daily livelihood or occasional leisure was found in the more than 300 forests and chases in England and Wales in the period under study. Additional entries are very welcome: please refer to the contact details on our Home Page



acre                      (1) unit of areal measurement, originally 40 rods long by 4 rods wide (C, 36), equivalent to 4,840 sq. yds. or 10 sq. chains (E, 177); 640 acres = 1 sq. mile (E, 177); see also ‘braid’, ‘rod’. (2) unit of linear measurement, 4 rods (i.e. an acre’s breadth) (C, 37)

afforest                 (1) (legal) place an area under forest law and administration; the creation of a forest by stipulated procedures (M, 26 (v) – 30 (r)); (2) (sylviculture) establish a tree crop on an area which has not carried wood for some time (L, 236)

after-pannage        money paid for the agistment of pigs after the end of the normal pannage season (T 147)

agist                      admit cattle to forest for a given period or to take in cattle to graze at a certain rate, hence ‘agistment’ (P, 205)

agistator, agister, agistor
official responsible for receiving payments for agistment (R, 165); officer responsible for supervising, charging for and enrolling commoners’ cattle grazing and pannage, numbering four per forest (M, 79 (v))

agisting                 taking in of commoners’ cattle by agisters on payment by the week, month or other period (M, 80 (r))

agistment              herbage of a forest or the right to it; grazing dues or income from agisting (L, 236); grazing of unenclosed woods and waste within a forest; common of herbage and the money received for it (M, 79(v) - 86 (v)). The Charter of the Forest allowed every free man to agist his own woods and hedges in a forest with his own beasts at any time, under view of the verderers, unless they abutted the king’s woods, which must be agisted first (M, 7 (r), 9 (v) and 84 (v)). See ‘drift’, ‘pannage’, ‘swanimote’

airies                     brushwood windshield to protect charcoal-making hearths (Reeves)

alaunt                    large, powerful, mastiff-like dog (BG, 202)

alder                     durable wood when grown in wet conditions, used for clog soles by itinerant clog makers (Je, 23; 235)

aller                      alder, q.v. (Ja, 296)

amercement          financial penalty for an offence imposed by a court (R, 165). It was owed by an offender said to be ‘in mercy’ and ‘at the mercy of the king (misericordia), but could be pardoned (Stagg).

antler                    attire or head of a stag, which was rated by doubling the number of tines borne by the antler with most. The extreme number was supposed to be 32 (BG, 203-4)

arabilis                  maple tree (T, 133)

arable                   [land] fit for tillage (OED)

arbeel                   Abele or white poplar (Ja, 296)

arboreal                of, living in, connected with, trees (OED)

arboriculture         cultivation of trees and shrubs (OED)

armitage                see ‘hermit’

arrent                    let out at rent; permit enclosure of forest land or woodland on payment of an annual rent (Ja, 296); allow the enclosure of forest lands ‘with a low hedge and a small ditch’ at a yearly rent; hence ‘arrentation’ (P, 205)

arrentation            the process of arrenting (Ja, 296)

ash                       tough wood used especially for tool handles, cart shafts; wheel felloes  &c (Je, 72-73)

assart                   (n) area of clearance in woodland or waste; cultivated forest land from which trees have been grubbed up; (v) the act of clearing (R, 165); grub up trees and underwood of forest land to convert to arable or pasture (P, 205), though strictly speaking, for planting with grain crops, ‘brought under cultivation’ (Stagg); conversion of forest woodland to tillage – if licensed, may be inclosed only with small ditches and hedges, to allow passage of deer (M, 66(v) -68 (r)); Barons of the Exchequer were excused the fines due for this offence against forest law for land in demesne cleared before the reign of Henry I. The customary fine was 1s per acre sown with wheat and 6d per acre of oats (ED, 526). See ‘inclosure’, ‘purpresture’ (enclosure for any other purpose, though often used synonymously with ‘assart’ in forest court proceedings), ‘waste’

asp                       aspen poplar (Ja, 296)

attach                   arrest or place under control of court (P, 205); from French attacher, ‘to apprehend’, arrest and take surety for appearance at court (by goods and chattels, the body, pledges and mainprise, or the body only – under 1 Edw 3 c.1, the last two, i.e. lawful imprisonment, only for persons found with the manner). Attached goods were forefeit on non-appearance (M, 210 (v) - 215 (v)). See ‘attachment court’, ‘bail’, ‘forester’, ‘mainprise’, ‘manner’, ‘ranger’

attachment court   also known as verderers’, woodmote, wardmote or forty-day courts. Meetings of verderers (q.v.) every forty-two days in each bailiwick (q.v.), to receive and enrol the attachments (see ‘attach’) by foresters, woodwards and other officers of those accused of offending against vert and venison contrary to Forest Law (q.v.); competent to enquire into cases and to sentence up to the value of 4d; more serious offences were bailed for sentence at the next eyre (q.v.) (M, 187 (v) - 188 ( r), 206 (r) - 216 (v)). ‘It was the duty of the verderers to receive the attachments and to enrol them and to certify them under their seals to the court of the Swanimote (q.v.)’, which is consistent with the Ordinances of the Forest (q.v.) if ‘foresters’ signified ‘verderers’. Although established to protect vert, courts of attachment ‘frequently came to take pledges for the appearance of poachers and other culprits [against venison, q.v.] at the next general eyre’.( Cr, 7; G, 98)

axebearer             forest officer



Besom broom maker. The villages of Baughurst and Tadley on the forested Hampshire/Berkshire border were particularly well known
for their besom production. Picture from the web-site of the Museum of Rural Life, Reading.

badger                  (1) animal known before the 16th century as ‘brock’, ‘gray’ or ‘bawson’ (S 43); (2) person exercising right of those born in the Hundred of St Briavels to graze (common) their sheep within the Forest of Dean

bail                       financial surety pledged for the future reappearance of a lawful prisoner released pending trial, on recognizance of the verderers (M, 215 (v) - 216 (v)). See ‘mainprise’, ‘recognisance’

bailiff                    agent of lord of manor, landholder’s steward, originally king’s representative in a district (OED)

bailiwick               administrative subdivision of a forest; district (of a forest) under a separate jurisdiction, (P 205) [Pettit adds ‘e.g. with its own swanimote and regarders, etc.’, but this is at odds with other authorities: such subdivisions would have attachment courts, q.v., and verderers]

band                     to keep wood ‘in band’ was to fence young growth against deer for four and cattle for seven years after felling (Ja, 297)

bank                     see ‘pale’

bark                     (n) outer layer of trees, that of oak being used as a tanning agent after being ground into powder, harvested from April to July (E, 142; Je, 208); (v) peel off bark (L 239), see ‘bark-stripping’

bark-stripping       also known as pilling, tan-fluing and flawing. Carried out by hagmen, who felled the trees, barkers who stripped them, and carriers who took bark to ‘horses’ for drying (Ja, 297); see ‘hag’, ‘flag’

barrel hoops         flexible cleft rods, usually from hazel coppice cut at eight years, for binding wooden barrels (Je, 31) see ‘cane’

basketware           flexible sticks, usually of one year old willow withies, q.v., for weaving around stouter sticks, usually from willow pollards (E, 140; Je, 42-44 et al)

basket willow        particular varieties of willow grown for basket making, such as Black Mawl and Champion Rod (Je, 43)

bavin                    faggots, q.v., bound together by 2 weefs, q.v., used by bakers in bread ovens (Ja, 297), see ‘sear’

beadle                  ‘an officer to goe throughout all the forest, like unto the Sheriff’s special bailiff,’ to make proclamation and levy distress ordered by forest courts (M, 206 (r), quote from 221 (r), 221 (r) - 223 (v), and 238 (r)); ceremonial officer, parish officer appointed by vestry (OED)

beasts of the chase
animals allowed to be hunted in a chase: red deer (hart, hind), fallow deer (buck, doe), roe deer until reign of Edward III (buck, doe), fox, marten, all of which q.v.. See also ‘beasts of the forest’

beasts of the forest
animals having ‘privilege within the Forest’: red deer (hart, hind), roe deer until reign of Edward III (buck, doe), hare, boar and wolf (all of which q.v.), beasts of the chase (q.v.), and beasts and fowls of warren (q.v.) (M19 (r) - 20 (v)). Some authorities gave different categorisations, with roe deer as beasts of the forest and wolves and foxes as beasts of chase (M, 38 (v) - 41 (v)), and it is probable that some animals were treated differently in different forests.  See also ‘venison’, ‘vermin of chase’

beasts of venery    literally, beasts that were hunted (venatio = to hunt), synonymous with ‘beasts of the forest’ (q.v.) and venison (q.v.)

beasts/fowls of warren
animal allowed to be hunted in a warren: roe deer (buck, doe), hare, coney (rabbit), pheasant, partridge; hawks were included as fowls of warren in Charge 44 of an eyre (M, 245 (r)). See ‘beasts of the forest’, ‘vermin of chase’

bed                       the resting up of a roe (M, 45 (v))

beech                   good fire and charcoal wood, and for furniture; not durable out of doors (E 1958, 94)

bell-pit                  bell-shaped shaft dug by miners

bencher                member of local court drawn from the old men of a district, evidenced in Malvern Chase, at Hanley Castle (Worcestershire), in sixteenth century

bercary                 sheep farm (R 165). See ‘vaccary’.

bercelet                shooting dog (BG 204-5); a hound hunting by scent = specially trained brach for searching out deer? (T 134); see also limehound?

berewick              dependent settlement or outlying hamlet contributing to the sustenance of a manor (R 165)

berner                   man in charge of hounds (BG 205-6; T 133)

bersa                    an enclosed piece of forest ground or the enclosing fence; = ‘haya’? (T 134)

berry                    (n) fruit with seed enclosed in pulp [e.g. holly], (v) come into berry, collect berries (OED)

besom                  see ‘broom squire’

bevy                     a gathering of roe deer (M, 45 (v))

bevy grease          the fat of a roe deer (M, 46 (r))

billet wood            pieces of wood usually obtained from the larger branches of trees, measure set out in Assize of Fuel (1553) still in force in 1740 (Ja, 297)

billhook                axe-like long-handled tool, used for cleaving sticks for wattle (E, 140)

binder                   also known as ether, ethering, headering, hether and roder. Long pliant rod of hazel or willow interwoven along the top of a cut-and-laid hedge (Ja, 297)

birk                      birch (Ja, 297)

birds of warren     also ‘fowls of warren’, birds allowed to be hunted in a warren, q.v.: pheasant and partridge. See also ‘beasts/fowls of warren’

biscuity                see 'frow'

bisshunter             hunter of rabbits for fur (BG 206)

black coal             charcoal (L 236)

blackthorn            thorny shrub bearing white flowers before leaves and small plums or sloes; cudgel or walking-stick of this (OED)

blat(t)erne            sapling, young tree

blaze                     mark made on a tree trunk by slicing off bark

blettro                   sapling (of oak or beech), too small to be saleable (T 135-6)

boar                     wild boar (q.v.) in its fourth year (M, 43 (r))

bodger                  maker of small pieces of furniture, e.g. stools

bole                      main stem of a tree below where branching begins (Ja, 298)

boll                       removal of branches from a tree, or side branches from hedgerow trees (Ja, 298), see 'brash', 'shroud'

bolling                  the trunk of a pollard tree, as opposed to the regret (R. Thomas, pers. comm.)

boscage                money paid for windfall wood (M, 88 (r))

bote                      e.g. housebote, haybote/hedgebote, and plowbote, the right to wood and timber from Crown’s or Lord’s estates for necessary repairs to house, hedge or plough; estovers, q.v. (P 205)

bottle                    or spray; bundle of brushwood twigs esp. of birch for besoms (Ja, 298) see ‘broom squire’

bough                   tree-branch (if on tree, one of the chief branches) (OED); right of forest officer to take fallen branches

bound                   (n) limit of territory or estate or other prescribed area; (v) set bounds to, limit (OED). See ‘bounds’

bounder                boundary marker (Ja, 298)

bounds                 limits of a prescribed area, e.g. a forest. Under the Charter of the Forest (1217), the boundary markers of a forest belonged to the king (M, 10 (r)). See ‘meres’

bowbearer            forest official, originally an office held by serjeanty (R 165)

brach(et)              hound hunting by scent = bercelet?(T 136) (Stagg, ‘brachet’)

bracken                fern abundant on heaths (OED); dry ferns, scythed in autumn, for animal bedding (E, 142)

braid                     breadth, brede or bredth. Unit of area (in Oxon) of coppice, 1 pole (5.5 yds) x 22 yds, at 40 per acre (Ja, 298) see rod, acre

brash                    remove side branches from a tree, or material so removed (E, 177); small branches removed from boles of young trees of c 10 years old (Ja, 298)

breakneck/brokeneck      tree whose main stem has been snapped by the wind (Reeves)

breast height         standard height for measuring the girth of a standing tree, usually 4ft 3ins above ground level (E, 177)

broche                  twigs and debris of trees (L 236)

brocket                 male red deer in its second year (M 41 (v)), in another place third year (BG 226); in medieval times, a buck (T 137)

brocket’s sister     female red deer in its second year (M, 43 (r))

broom                  yellow-flowered shrub growing on sandy banks, etc.; sweeping instrument, usually on long handle [often manufactured in forest woodland] (OED)

broom squire        itinerant maker of besoms or brooms, made from heather or birch twigs bound by withies, canes or wire to rods of hazel, ash or lime (Je, 84)

browse, browsewood
(n) cropped shoots and small branches of trees to feed deer, cattle, etc. (P 205; ‘browsewood’ in Penn 161)

brush, brushwood

                             small growth cleared before planting trees (Ja, 298)

buck                     male of fallow [or roe] deer, especially in its sixth or later year (M, 43 (v)), hare, rabbit, goat, etc. (OED)

buck of the first head
male fallow deer of the fifth year (M, 43 (v)); ‘henceforth his age is commonly known by his head or horns’ (H)

buckhound            small variety of staghound (OED)

buck’s leap           see ‘freeboard’

buckstall               toil, q.v., or net to take deer

bullock                 male red deer in its second year (BG 226)

bush                     tail of a fox (M, 45 (v))

bustard                 bird traditionally reserved for the use of earls (B); however, not being a bird of prey, the 'bustard' may have been a buzzard or harrier (from French busard) (HCT)

butt                       larger or basal end of a tree trunk or log; a felled bole (Ja, 298)

buzzard                 see ‘bustard’



Cartouche, decorating and describing John Aram's map of estates bordering Tidenham Chase, 1769

cableicum, cablicum

                            windfallen tree (not used of branches) in use till end of fifteenth century (T 137-8)

calf                       male or female red deer in its first year (M 41 (v) and 43 (r)) (BG 226)

cane                     hazel rod of 6 feet, cleft for making barrel hoops, fish traps, brooms, hurdles &c (Ja, 298; Je, 84)

cant                      unit to subdivied coppices into working units (Ja, 298); an area of variable extent on which coppice is cut, or grows at an even age

                            (E, 177)

carr                      land which is badly drained and prone to flooding, often colonised by alder (R 165)

cartbote                tenants’ rights on a manor to take wood for repair of carts (L 236)

cartouche             decorative panel on early modern map enclosing information about the location, contents, patron, surveyor, and date

cess                      a set yearly payment to the Exchequer, like a farm, from the person responsible for collecting fines (other than for assarts) for one or more forests: anciently 'sess' as in 'assessment' (OED)

chace                    see ‘chase’

chair bodger         itinerant craftsman moving from place to place in the woods making nothing but the legs and stretchers of Windsor chairs (Je, 15), see ‘bodger’

charcoal                charred wood used as fuel, made in woodland by burning rough wood cut into lengths of two to three feet, stacked for drying for several months, then piled into a pit of about 15 feet in diameter for burning, which took about 24 hours for dry, but much longer for green wood (Je, 37-38); black porous residue of partly burnt wood, bones, etc. (OED); see also ‘chark’

charcoal-burner    maker of charcoal

chark(e)                charcoal; to make charcoal (Ja, 298)

chart                     common, q.v. (E, 1958, 108)

chase                    (v) act or process of hunting; a doublet of ‘catch’ via a northern French variant of Old French chacier, to chase (Latin captare, from capere, ‘take, hold’ (S)

chase                    (n) exclusive hunting reserve of landholder in which s/he had rights to hunt deer and boar, i.e. a private forest (R 165); hunting ground without officers and courts where forest laws, such as for the lawing of mastiffs, did not apply; the equivalent of a park without a fence (M (24 (r) and 115 (r)); tract of land reserved for hunting (L 236). Linnard, following Manwood, adds ‘but not subject to forest law and administration’. However, both were mistaken. Some chases, in royal and private hands, did have courts and officers. According to a judgement made 5 Jac 1, concerning the question of whether the forests of the Duchy of Lancaster were ‘forests in name only, or in law’: ’being qaestio facti, the Judges could give no answer’. If they had courts, officers, etc. acting according to forest law they were, ‘but appellation or naming of them forests in offices, pleadings, grants or other conveyances, are no proofs, that they be forests in law.’ If they were ‘only free chases in law, then owners of woods there can cut them down without oversight by any officer, but if they cut down so much as they leave not sufficient covert, and bruise wood, for the game, they shall be punished by the king’s suit. And so it is if a common person hath liberty of chase in other men’s woods’. Furthermore, common of herbage for sheep may exist in a chase by prescription or grant, but without surcharge [just as in a forest, i.e. it is not an automatic forest common right] (Co 298).

chast, chat            winged seed of ash tree (Ja, 298)

cheminage            payment for passing through a forest during fence month (q.v.); specifically charged on carts and pack animals (Stagg). The Charter of the Forest (1217) limited the collection of cheminage to foresters in fee paying farms for their bailiwicks, and forbade its collection from people carrying material on their backs (M, 7 (v)). Compare 'thistletake'.

cheveronus           (Med. Lat.) rafters (Thomas, pers. comm.)

chief forester        see ‘keeper’

chip                      small piece of wood, used for fuel, pulp, and (in more modern times) pressed board manufacture. Off-cuts of felled trees; claimed by navy carpenters as their fees for felling timber (Reeves). See ‘Vails’.

cion                      young shoot from root or stock of a tree (Reeves)

cipher                   suppressed, thin or unsaleable stem (included with timber in a sale) (L 236)

clay-pit                 hollowed place from which clay is extracted

close                     small hedged or walled field for private as opposed to communal use (R 165)

close wood           see ‘grove’

coal                      charcoal; to make charcoal (L 236)

coalfire                 measure of wood, consisting of 6 fathoms; so much firewood as when it is burned contains a load of coals (Reeves)

cobbing                pollarding (Ja, 298)

cockshoot, cockshut(s)

                            open glade suitable for placing net(s) to catch woodcock (R 165)

coedcae               Welsh, literally 'enclosure of wood'. Alternatively name for areas in Wales known as 'ffridd', q.v.

cog                       roundwood or squared wood used in building up a support for the roof of a mine (L 236)

collier                   charcoal maker

common               area of land within a manor where its tenants or those of other manors had the right to graze livestock (R 165); right of occupiers of ancient forest tenements (all others being purprestures), of neighbouring townships by ancient custom, and of other persons given license, to graze forest herbage (q.v.). Four types of common were defined in Common Law: ‘common appurtenant’ (to a messuage) allowed the grazing of geese, goats, pigs and sheep, but these and unringed swine were not allowed in forests; ‘common appendant’ (to arable strips) also excluded them because they compacted the land; ‘common in gross’ was as stipulated by the lord of a manor (or forest), and ‘common of vicinage’ or by neighbourhood was the reciprocal right of commoners to graze each others’ waste if unfenced. Limited to a commoners’ own beasts, according to levancy and couchancy (see ‘levant and couchant’), and stinted or sans number (M, 95 (r)) – 101 (r)). As regarding forest common rights granted to communities outside the forest, ‘the claim ought to be made by them all; but otherwise it is within the forest, where every man shall have his action by himself for that which belongs to him’ (Co 295)… ‘and concerning claims it is specially to be observed, that by the forest law a grant made of a privilege within the forest to all the inhabitants being freeholders within the forest or such other commonalities not incorporated, is good’ (Co 297). See ‘agistment’, ‘drift’, ‘estover’, ‘fence month, ‘pannage’, ‘ringed swine’, ‘surcharge’, ‘waste’

common of estovers
the right to gather fuel wood, sometimes ‘by hook or by crook’ (E 1958, 19-20; Le, MS additions, 12)

common of herbage
may exist for sheep by prescription or grant, but without surcharge  [i.e. it is not an automatic forest or chase common right] (Co 298)

common of pasture
the right to graze waste; could be limited to customary tenants or occupants of dwellings built before a certain date, stinted (q.v.), restricted to certain times of year, limited to certain sorts of animals, or subject to the custom of levancy and couchancy (E 1958, 19; Le 100-03 and MS additions, 11-12). See 'agist'

common of marl    the right to dig clay, chalk, sand or other mineral materials (E 1958, 20)

common of mast or pannage
                            the right to graze swine on beech mast and acorns in autumn (E 1958, 19)

common of turbary
the right to dig turf for fuel (E 1958, 20)

commoning           see ‘common’, ‘intercommoning’

compass timber     curved timber used in shipbuilding (P 205); crooked and curved assortments for shipbuilding (L 236); curved pieces of oak used to provide knees, futtocks &c for ship building (Ja, 298) see ‘lay over’

compartment         area of variable extent forming a unit for forest management (E, 177)

composition          agreement to pay dues

compound            settle difference, dispute or claim by mutual concession – usually involving a money payment (P 205)

coney                   rabbit (see also ‘conigree, cunnigrey, cunny’, and ‘coniger’ (R 165); 'nourished in warrens and burrows' (H)

conifer                  tree belonging to the family Coniferae, usually evergreen with cones, needle-shaped leaves, and producing wood known commercially as ‘softwood’ (Fl)

coniger                 master of a rabbit warren (see ‘coney’) (R 165)

conigree, cunnigrey, cunny

                            rabbit warren (see ‘coney’) (R 165)

constable              officer, peace-officer, from Latin comes stabuli, ‘Count of the Stable’, a dignitary of the Roman empire transferred to the Frankish courts (S 131); later office-holders so-called included custodians of castles, often entrusted with the supervision of nearby forests

cooper                 barrel maker (Je, 89)

coppice                small wood consisting of underwood and small trees grown for the purpose of periodic cutting (P 205); (v) cut back trees to their base so they will shoot again; (n) an area of wood so treated (E, 177); expanse of deciduous shrubs or trees which are cut back to near ground level at regular intervals to provide a crop of usuable and sustaniable timber. This is the meaning of silvia minutia in the Domesday Survey. An alternative word is ‘spring’ or ‘spring, spirit’ (wood) (R 165); a wood regularly cut for regrowth, (v) cut tree close to ground level to produce regrowth of coppice shoots (L 236); growth of broadwood trees on rotations of 8 – 25 years between cuttings (Ja, 299)

coppice keeper     one who takes care of small wood

coppice with standards

                            coppice woodland in which some trees are allowed to grow to full height for timber (E, 178 ref to text)

coppy, coppis, coppse (wood), coppy, copse, copy, see ‘coppice’

copyhold              status for property or land held according to agreed customs and terms written in the official records; subject to payments, e.g. on transfer or death (R 165); tenancy by possession of copy of such customs and terms

coroner                 officer of the crown, originally elected within a county, but with the consent of the crown; could also be elected or appointed within a borough, liberty, honor or manor; duties included ‘keeping the Pleas of the Crown’ (holding inquests into local matters in which the king had a financial interest); from Latin corona, ‘crown’.

cord                     measure of capacity for stacked branchwood, usually 128 cu ft or 4ft x 4ft x 8ft (E, 178); stacked measure of round or cleft wood (L 236); a stack of pieces of wood, usually from lop and top or branches of trees known as cordwood, generally measuring 4 feet high x 4 feet wide and 8 feet long, but 4ft 4in X 2ft 2in x 8ft 8in in Forest of Dean (Ja, 299) see offal wood, stack wood

cordwood             wood cut into short lengths and sold by the cord for charcoal-burning, fuel, etc. (L 236)

corf(e)                  large basket used in northern coalmining (Ja 299)

corf rod                coppice rod, 0.5 – 1 inch in diameter used to make corves

cossickle               house with a small area of land in Brigstock, Northamptonshire (Rockingham Forest) (P 205)

county woodward-general
Crown officer responsible for supervision of royal woods in an individual county; see ‘woodward’

coursing                the chase of game, particularly the hare; from Latin cursus, ‘course’, track’, past participle of currere, ‘to run’

court baron           manorial court (q.v.) which enforced payment and services due to the lord (R 168)

court leet              manorial court (q.v.) which dealt with the administration of the communal agriculture, keeping law and order, and the customs of the manor (R 168)

covert                   wood with thickets and closed canopy (M, 59 (r))

crate heading        rigid rods used for framework of crates for fragile wares (E, 140)

crate rods             flexible rods, chiefly hazel, for making crates to carry fragile ware such as pottery and glassware (E, 140)

crop, or top and lop

                            those parts of a tree not fit for timber, cut for other purposes or left after timber felling, usually the property of the forest warden (T 140 and 147-8)

crottels or cratising
the excrement of a hare, reported on by foresters (M, 46 (r))

Crown                  institutional power and authority of the monarch, as in ‘Crown lands’, in modern times vested in, and represented by, the government

crown                   the upper branches and foliage of a tree (E, 178)

crust                     slab, i.e. outer piece removed first in log conversion (L 237)

crutch                   large ash or hazel pole, claimed in Beds. by woodmen inaddition to wages for every 10 poles of underwood cut (Ja, 299)

curée                    the ceremony of rewarding hounds on the successful completion of a hunt (BG 208-9)

custodian/custos   see ‘keeper’

customary             (n) written collection of traditional rules and laws of the manor (P 205); (a) description of tenants holding by accepted custom in a particular manor (R 166)



deadwood(s)        kiln faggots, lowest grade woodland material such as dead coppice, brambles &c (Ja, 299)

dean                     see ‘dene’

deer                      ruminant mammal of the family Cervidae

deer, fallow           beast of the chase; species of deer ‘nourished in parks’ (H); accounted the most noble game after the stag (H). See ‘buck’, ‘doe’, etc.

deer, red               beast of venery, that is, of the forest. See ‘hart’, ‘hind’, etc.

deer, roe               beast of the warren, chases out other deer. See 'buck', 'doe', etc.

deer leap              construction allowing deer access across a pale into a deer park, so built to prevent them from leaving the park, once in (R 166); also known as ‘salter’

deerfall wood       twigs and branches lopped for winter feed of deer (W 147-8)

defence month      see ‘fence month’

deforest                clear or strip forests of woodland (to be distinguished from ‘disafforest’, q.v.) (P 205)

delph                    excavation where stone or minerals were obtained (R 166)

demesne               land possessed or occupied by the owner himself – later land not held of owner by free tenants; ancient demesne – property belonging to the king from time of the Norman Conquest (P 205); manorial land which the lord held for himself, untenanted (R 166)

dene                     wooded valley (L 237)

disafforest             free forest land from the operation of forest law (to be distinguished from ‘deforest’, q.v.) (P 205); remove an area of land from the constraints of forest law (R 166); release land from forest law (L 237)

disbranch              remove branches from a tree before felling to protect falling bole (Ja, 299)

dislodge                disturb a buck from its lodging (M, 45 (v))

doat, dote, dode  see ‘dotard’                                                                                                 

dodder                 old pollard (senscent) (L 237)

doe                       female fallow [or roe] deer, especially in its third or later year (M, 43 (v)); female rabbit

dogstake              stake used for paling in Keeper’s holding or ‘rails’ (Reeves)

dole                      hurdle stake (Ja, 300)

dot(t)ard               decaying tree (R 166); normally a decaying oak or one so defective as to be unfit for naval timber (P 205); rot, decay (Ja, 299); rotten, decaying or decayed tree (Ja, 300); tree stripped of top or branches; a dead or topped tree (Reeves)

dotter(el)              see ‘dodder’

dozen                   charcoal measure (12 loads = 1 dozen) (L 237)

dress                    reduce the number of coppice shoots or tree branches to improve the quality of its produce (Ja, 300)

drift                      (1) the driving of cattle to one place on an appointed day to determine ownership (P 205); the gathering, impounding, registration and temporary clearance of all commoners’ animals by all forest officers in their own bailiwicks to preserve herbage for deer by preventing surcharging and the presence of uncommonable and foreigners’ stock; carried out on two dates, 15 days before the Feast of John the Baptist’s Nativity (Midsummer, June 24), i.e. June 9 (Feast of St Edmund), at the start of ‘fence month’, q.v., and 15 days before Michaelmas (September 29), i.e. on Holy Rood Day, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, when agistment (q.v.) began, or as often as required (M, 104 (r) - 107 (v)). 32 Hen 8 c 35 regulated the size of horses permissible on forest and other commons, and ordered an annual drift within 15 days after Michaelmas (M, 14 (r)) – 17 (r)). See ‘agistment’, ‘common’, ‘surcharge’; (2) the rows in which underwood is laid when felled, often 3ft wide and 4ft to 6ft apart (OED). (3) mine (drift-mine) driven into a hillside by means of a tunnel

drive                     act of rounding up and registering animals in the drift (q.v.)



eagle                     bird of prey reserved for the use of emperors according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); from Latin aquila (S 187)

egress                   see ‘ingress’

elbow timber        see ‘compass timber’, ‘knee’

elm                       tree used for articles which must withstand soaking; base of trunk used to make wheel hubs (Je, 110)

empire forestry      forestry on scientific principles introduced to Britain from her colonies and dependencies where it had been developed largely as a matter of public policy and reflecting the professional skills of Continental (particularly German) woodland managers

enclosure              the act and process of enclosing areas of land previously part of the open woods or fields, including forests and commons. See 'inclosure'

encoppice             inclosing of a wood or coppice after the cutting of underwood so that the young spring may shoot (P 205); enclose an area of cut coppice to protect young shoots (Ja 300)

encroachment       illegal occupation of property or land (R 166)

engine                   industrial machine, hence ‘fire engine’ as a term for, inter alia, a steam-powered pump to drain water from mines (including those in forest areas)

engross                 buy up wholesale as much as possible so as to retail or regrate at monopoly prices; concentrate property in one’s own possession (P 205)

enrolment              according to the Charter of the Forest (1217), all attachments for forest offences must be enrolled under the seals of the verderers for presentation at the next eyre (M, 8 (r))

escape                  a beast which found its way into a forbidden enclosure, liable to fine (T 140)

essart                    see ‘assart’

estover                 necessity allowed by law, especially wood which a tenant may take from the King or landlord for repairs of his property (P 205); tenants’ right to take wood for repair of buildings, hedges, carts, etc. (L 237); right to take wood from common land for fuel and other purposes (‘botes’), e.g. repairs to houses, implements, etc. (R 166); common right to gather fern and brushwood for commoner’s own use (M, 247 (r)). See also ‘bote’, ‘common of estover’

ether, ethering       see binder

evergreen              retaining a portion of its leaves throughout the year (E, 178)

evil wax                of poor growth, used in the context of woodland (R 166)

exotic                   tree introduced from abroad (L 237)

expeditate             also ‘law’, from which ‘lawing’; cut off the claws of a dog’s forefoot to prevent it from chasing the game (P 205); remove three claws from the forefeet of mastiffs, ordered at a regard, under penalty of 3s (footgeld). Other large dogs such as spaniels and greyhounds were forbidden from forests except by licence from forest justices (M 6 (v) and 107 (v) - 119 (v))

extent                   detailed survey of the size and valuation of an estate (R 166); survey, measurement and evaluation of land (L 237)

extra-parochial area not lying within the jurisdiction of a parish, q.v., ecclesiastical or civil (R 166); many forest areas were extra-parochial

eyre                      see ‘forest eyre’

eyrie, or aery        literally an eagle’s nest; also a brood of eagles or hawks (S 8), a place where a bird of prey was maintained. The Charter of the Forest (1217) allowed every free man to possess eyries of hawks, falcons, eagles and herons in his own woods in a forest (M, 7 (v))



faggot                   bundle of sticks, twigs or small branches bound together (OED), usually of 6 ft long by 2 ft through, used eg to heat bakers’ ovens (E, 140). Dimensions fixed as 3 ft in length and 2 ft in girth by Assize of Fuel (1553) (Ja, 300) see taleshide

fair roebuck          a roe buck in its sixth or later year (M, 44 (r))

falcon                   bird of prey, so-called from the shape of its tallons, from Latin falx, ‘sickle’ (S 207); hunts by stooping, q.v.

falconer                keeper of birds of prey, see also ‘king’s falconer’ and ‘hawking’

falconry                see ‘hawking’

fallow deer            see ‘deer, fallow’

farm                      (legal) rent for land or property, deriving from Latin firma, a fixed money rent (R 166)

fascine                  bundle of rods stouter than those in faggots, used for support in construction on marshy ground (E, 140)

fathom                  a measure of capacity for rough sawn timber = 216 cu. ft, measured as 6ft x 6ft x 6ft (E, 178)

fauna                    animal life of a particular region, from Latin Fauna, female counterpart of Faunus (giving English ‘faun’), a (Roman) rural deity (S)

fawn                     male or female fallow deer (buck) of the first year (M, 43 (v)), the term itself derived via Old French and Late Latin from Latin foetus, 'offspring' [not to be confused with ‘faun’] (S)

fawning                 giving birth to fawn, q.v.; see also ‘fence month’

featy (fealty?)        obligation of fidelity on the part of feudal tenants to Lord (P 205)

fee                        heriditable [sic] right to estate or office of profit, technically held on condition of feudal homages (P 205); possession of land for a fixed annual service or payment (R 166)

fee deer                right (as ‘licence by prescription’) to stipulated number(s) of deer per year attached to forest offices, to be delivered by foresters or hunted with servants by officer (M, 129 (v) - 131 (r)). See ‘licence’

fee-                      (combined with ‘buck’, ‘acre’, ‘tree’, etc.) entitle to receive as a perquisite (P 205)

fee farm                tenure by which land is held in fee simple subject to a perpetual fixed rent and no other services (P 205); specific holding for which payment was to the Crown (R 166)

fee tree                 tree given to an official in recompense for duties (R 166)

fence month          or ‘defence month’, the period when a forest must be closed and undisturbed to allow fawning (when female deer bore young), fixed by the Charter of the Forest (1217) as from St Edmund’s Day (June 9), 15 days before Midsummer (Feast of John Baptist’s Nativity), to 15 days after (St Cyril’s Day), during which no swine, sheep, goats or commonable beasts were allowed in a forest, or persons off the highways, and forest officers kept watch and ward night and day in their own bailiwicks (M, 90 (v) - 95 (r) and 104 (r and v). Latin mensis vetitus (Stagg). See ‘agistment’, ‘common’, ‘drift’

fern                       plant of the division Polypodiophyta; any of a large number of flowerless, seedless vascular plants having roots, stems, and fronds and reproducing by spores; including the so-called ‘lady fern’, [common] bracken, q.v..

fewmet, frewmishing
the excrement of a deer, reported on by foresters (M, 46 (r)) 

fewterer                man attendant on greyhounds (BG 212); person in charge of greyhounds (T 137)

ffridd                    areas in Wales (pronounced 'frith' and also known as coedcae) with forest-like characteristics, diverse habitats between lowland and upland, a mixture of grass and heathland with bracken, scrub (often hawthorn and gorse) or rock exposures and may also include flushes, mires, streams and standing water, almost exclusively found on slopes and often grading gently into upland mosaics and lowland pasture and woodland (Brecon Beacons National Park biodiversity statement,, accessed January 26, 2010. Cf. 'frith'

fine                       premium or lump sum paid to landowners on grant or renewal of lease whose fixed rent no longer represents the real annual value (P 205); amount paid on occupying a holding by a copyhold or leasehold tenant in accordance with local custom (R 166)

fir apples               pine cones (Ja, 300)

fire-bote               estover (q.v.) which was the common right to take firewood (R 166); right of tenants on a manor to take wood for fuel (L 237); see –bote

flag                       see ‘hag’

flake or fleak         sheep hurdle (Ja, 300)

flawing                  see ‘bark-stripping’

fleake                   cleft hurdle (L 237)

float or flott           raft (L 237)

fogg                      poor quality grassland on which cattle could fend for themselves in the winter months (R 166)

footgeld                see ‘expeditate’

forest (generic)      extensive area of woodland (L 237)

forest (legal)          hunting preserve of the king or lord-marcher, subject to forest law but not necessarily woodland (L 237); originally an area of land in which only the owner had the right to hunt deer and boar. Special laws were applied in this area which was outside the jurisdiction of common law (ED, R 166)

forest (semantic)   Walter W. Skeat, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (4th edn, rev., Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1910), p. 222: FOREST, a wood, a wooded tract of
                            land. (F. - L.) ME. forest, King Alisaunder, 3581. - OF. forest, 'a forrest'; Cot[grave, French Dictionary, ed. 1660]. - Late L. foresta, a wood; forestis, an open space
                            of ground over which rights of the chase were reserved. Medieval writers oppose the forestis or open wood to the walled-in wood or parcus (park). 'Forestis est ubi sunt
                            feræ non inclusæ; parcus, locus ubi sunt feræ inclusæ;' document quoted in [A.] Brachet, [Etymological French Dictionary, trs. G. W. Kitchin, 1873] q. v. - L. foris,
                            out of doors, abroad; whence forestis, lying down. Allied to L. forēs, doors; see Foreign. Der. forest-er, contracted to forster,
                            Chaucer C[anterbury] T[ales] 117; and to foster, Spenser, F[aerie] Q[ueen] [1950-6] iii. 1. 17.

forest courts         see ‘attachment’, ‘eyre’, ‘swanimote’

forest eyre            highest forest court, established by Henry II, held by itinerant forest justices, under the authority of two Chief Justices of the Forest, one for north and one for south of the river Trent, after 1238. The court was called into being by the king’s letters patent appointing justices to hear and determine pleas of the forest in a particular county or counties. Eyres could not meet oftener than every third year [fourth in some sources], and must be called at least forty days before sitting by two writs of summons from the forest justices, one to forest officers and one to the sheriff of the county in which the forest lay. Attendance was required of all forest officers, who must bring their rolls of record from attachment and swanimote courts, of offenders and their pledges, persons claiming liberties in the forest, every forest inhabitant below the rank of baron between the ages of 12 and 70, and four men and the reeve from every town and village and twelve men from each borough in the forest. A charge of items was read to a sworn jury of 14, 20 or 28 members. Sentence was passed on offenders tried at attachment and swanimote courts and at and the eyre itself, in which first and last cases, the judgement was traversable. Appeal against judgement at an eyre could only be made to the court of king’s bench, to which cases concerning illustrious offenders were also usually removed. (Co 295-7; F 84, 106; G 95, 280; N 421-2; T l; Y 31-2,105)

forest measures     capacity of standard measures (such as acres, rods, perches) used in forests were often different, generally larger, than elsewhere (E, 177): for example, those of Sherwood Forest were defined in about 31 Edward III as follows: 'It is ordained that three corns of barley dry and round, set on length make one inch, and eighteen inches make one foot after the assize of the forest, and that twenty-five such feet make a perch, and forty perches in length and four in breadth make an acre, and one rood containeth one perch of twenty-four feet in breadth and forty such perches in length, and forty such perches in length and four such roods make an acre'. Furthermore, there were exceptions to these standards, particularly where the perch had been defined by charter; as for example in Swine Hawe and Hardwick Holewell and the assarts in Linby Hay (perch of 24 feet); the thirty acres of waste between Radwell Sick and Annesley Hay; 24 acres of wood and 40 acres of wood in Bulwell Rise (perch of 21 feet). (Rev L. Illingworth Butler, ‘Sherwood Forest’, Transactions of the Thoroton Society 49, 1946.)

forestall                 intercept and cut off (e.g. deer being driven into the forest) goods before reaching the public market (P 205)

forester                 keeper; officer appointed by letters patent under oath to preserve vert and venison within a forest and walk his bailiwick daily, attach offenders and present them at courts of attachment, swanimote and eyre, and to lead regarders on their inspection of a forest (M, 138 (r), 200 (r) - 206 (r), 194 (v) and 248 (r)). See 'forester in fee', ‘gatherings’, ‘keeper’, ‘regard’, ‘scot-ale’, ‘underkeeper’, ‘walker’

forester in fee        hereditary forester who paid a fee to the king for the custody of a forest bailiwick (M, 200 (v), Stagg).

forestry                 the practice and art of woodland management

fork                      cruck; forked (y-shaped) piece of timber (L 237)

form                     see 'seat'

fother                    weight of lead which varied between areas but was equivalent to approximately one ton (R 166)

fowl of warren  see ‘beast of the forest’, ‘beast/fowl of the warren’

fox                        animal hunted as vermin or beast of warren, especially from the late C18th (BG 212-14)

fox trees               trees granted to foresters as a reward for keeping down foxes and other vermin (W 147)

franchise               see ‘liberty’

freeboard              stip of land outside the whole boundary of a deer park, stretching five to seven metres from the pale. Also known as ‘buck’s leap’, term sometimes confused with the term ‘deer leap’, q.v. (R 166). See also ‘freebord’.

freebord               right to a narrow strip of land outside the fence around a park or forest (P 205)

freehay                 disafforested land or wood similar to purlieus (P 205)

free warren           right to hunt game on one’s own land (P 205); right granted by royal license to an estate owner which gave them the sole right to hunt, on their demesne land, the beasts of the warren, namely hares, rabbits, wild cats, polecats, badgers, foxes, partridge, pheasant and pine marten (R 167)

free miner             miner enjoying specific franchise, e.g. in the Forest of Dean, where anyone born in the forest, i.e. within the Hundred of St Briavels, and who has worked in a mine for a year and a day, may open up his own

freehold                status of property and land not subject to the customs of the manor, as opposed to copyhold, q.v., heritable and disposable (R 166)

frith                       enclosure, forest, wood, also in the sense of enclosed land, enclosure, park for hunting, forest, wood, cf. Old English friðgeard, 'an enclosed space, lit. 'peace-yard' or 'safety yard', and Middle Swedish fridgiärd, an enclosure for animals (S 227); private forest [used locally, e.g. in Derbyshire, Duffield Frith] (R 167); very old [imported] Celtic word for forest (E, 1958, 58). See also 'ffridd'

frow                     decay or crumble (Ja, 300); wood which is crumbly with broken grain (George Sturt, The Wheelwright's Shop, 1923 - brought to our attention by John Massey, to whom we are very grateful for this reference and also for biscuity, an apparent synonym)

fumes                    excrement of deer, used to discover the nature and size of animals in preparation for hunting (BG 209-10)

furlong                  40 rods, i.e. the length of an acre (C, 36)

furnace                 industrial structure in which raw material, particularly iron-ore, is smelted, often in forests because of the availability of wood fuel

furnished               equipped with side branches or foliage (E, 178)

fusta                     (Med. Lat.) timber (Thomas, pers. comm.)

fute (fewte; foot?)

                            track, trace or footprint of an animal, which was either ‘sweet’ or ‘stinking’ to scent hounds (BG, 210-11)

futtock                  one of the middle timbers in the frame of a ship (L 237)

fyants                    the excrement of a fox and other vermin, reported on by foresters (M, 46 (r))




Greyhound, horse and rider flying through a woody landscape in pursuit of a hare. Details from photograph by T. Marshall of wall painting in the parish church of Charlwood, Surrey, c. 1320, on the 'Painted Church' web-site of Anne Marshall (Open University).

gad                       faggot wood (L 237), see also ‘thatch spar’ (E 140)

garble                   to thin a wood (Ja, 300)

game                    animal or bird hunted

gathering               act of collecting natural products of field or forest, such as building timber, wood fuel, nuts, herbs, bracken, mushrooms, and honey, q.v.; prescriptive right of commoners and/or customary tenants of a manor; taking of hay, oats or other corn, lambs or pigs from forest inhabitants by foresters not sanctioned by tenure, grant, or prescription (M, 203 (r) and (v)). See ‘scot-ale’, ‘surcharge’

germen or germin  young shoot from a stool or stump (Ja, 300); coppice sprout (of oak) (L 237)

gipsy                     see ‘gypsy’

girth, girt               circumference of a tree or log (E, 178)

gista                     (Med. Lat.) joists (Thomas, pers. com.)

glade                    open place in a wood (BG 212)

goshawk               bird of prey, traditionally associated with the yeoman and expected to keep the larder stocked with common small-game (International Association for Falconry)

grace                    see ‘grease’

grace time             see ‘grease time’

grasanese              obligation of bondmen to feed their swine in the lord’s wood (L 237)

grease                   fat of a boar, hare, or deer, though a fat deer was said to be ‘in high grease’ (M, 46 (r)); boar’s grease was considered medicinal (BG 214-15 and 265). See also ‘bevy grease’, ‘suet

grease time           period when deer were fittest to hunt for food, not including the whole hunting season (BG 215-16); season when deer were in grease and deer at that time were known as ‘pinguedo’ in medieval times (T 146). See ‘hunting season’

great hare             a hare in its third or later year (M, 43 (r))

great stag              male red deer of the fifth year before becoming a hart (q.v.) in its sixth (H), but see ‘stag’ and also ‘staggon’

great tree              see standard (Ja, 300)

green hue or hugh
see ‘vert’

greyhound             running dog that chased by sight (BG 216-18). Large dogs other than mastiffs, such as greyhounds and spaniels were forbidden from forests except by licence from forest justices (M, 107 (v) - 119 (v)). See also ‘law’

grissell                  fresh-cut grass for fodder (Galtres Forest) (VCH Yorks 1, p. 504)

groom keeper       under or deputy forester (Le 32, 67), see 'forester'

groundsel              large timber, usually for the foundation of a timber building (Penn 161, 4)

grove                    collection of timber trees only (Ja, 301)

grub                      remove tree roots after felling (Ja, 301)

gypsy                    traditional term applied to romany nomads or travellers (see also 'romany'), whose traditional livelihoods included the making and selling of low-value forest products such as simple furniture and brooms, and the trading of horses, frequently reared in forests and sold at fairs on forest peripheries [where they might also perform entertainments]; from the Middle English spelling of ‘egyptian’ [relating to their presumed and sometimes asserted country of origin], cf. Skelton, swearing by St Mary of Egypt, ‘By Mary Gipcy’ (S 255)

gyr falcon or gyrfalcon
bird of prey, ‘the greatest of hawks’, traditionally reserved for the use of kings according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B) and so-named as if for its circling flight but in reality from Old High German giri, ‘greedy’, and Latin falco, 'a falcon' (S 256)

gyrle                     roe deer in its second year (M, 44 (r))



hadder                  see ‘heather’

hag(g)                   parcel of wood marked off for cutting (P 205); managed area of woodland (R 167); area of land felled by a hagman for bark stripping, varying from 10 to 100 acres, the total fall of which was known as a flag (Ja, 297) see bark-stripping

halmote                 see ‘manorial court’

hamble                  see ‘expeditate’ (P 205)

hand-set               young plant from nursery (L 237)

harbour                 (v) discover the lair of a deer preparatory to hunting; (n) resting up of a hart (M 45 (v))

hare                      valued quarry for greyhounds due to nimbleness and palatability; perhaps hunted by women; sometimes classified as a beast of venery or chase [q.v.], and sometimes as a beast of warren [q.v.] (BG 219-22); least of the noble beasts of venery, but ‘not the least in estimation, because the hunting of that seely beast is mother to all the terms, blasts, and artificial devices that hunters do use’ (H)

harrier                   (1) small running hound, used especially to hunt hares (BG 222-24), (2) term in falconry, see ‘bustard’

hart                       adult male red deer, technically of five years old [but see H and M following], with antlers rated at ten or more; the most highly esteemed hunting quarry (BG 224-7); adult male red deer of the sixth year (H), male red deer of any age, but particularly in its sixth and later years (M 39 (r) and 42 (r)). See ‘great stag’, ‘staggon’

hart royal              a hart which escaped the king’s or queen’s hunting into non-forest land, which must be preserved for return to the forest (M 42 (r)); any hart according to the forest law of Canute (1016) (M 43 (r))

hart royal proclaimed
hart royal whose status has been openly proclaimed in places surrounding a forest (M 42 (r) and (v))

hassil                    hazel (Ja, 301)

haut boys              see ‘vert’

hawk                    (n) bird of prey which hunts in woodland; (v) see ‘hawking’

hawking                the art [and practice] of training and flying of hawks, for the purpose of catching other birds, very frequently called falconry [though falcons, q.v., hunt in a different way] (St 21)

hay                       enclosure (used loosely in the Middle Ages for any form of enclosure) (R 167); enclosure in the forest (L 237); hedge, from haw[thorn] (S), hence hedged enclosure and OE haga, enclosure generally

haybote                right of tenants on a manor to take wood for making and repairing fences and hedges (L 237); according to the Charter of the Forest (1217), haybote must be collected under the view of the verderers (M 9 (v)); every man may take heybote from his own woods in the forest, by view of the foresters (Co 299). See also ‘bote’

head                     n. crown or mass of branches above the bole of a tree; v. to remove the crown (Ja, 301)

headering, hether
see ‘binder’

heath                    (1) wild open country (S 266); (2) plant, see ‘heather’

heather                 small, evergreen shrub, usually associated with ‘heath’, q.v., though the words appear distinct: the old name is ‘hadder’; alternative name is ‘ling’

herbage                pasture of woods, lawn, parks, wastes (‘surplusage of herbage’ was pasture in excess of that required for the feeding of the deer) (P 205); vegetation covering the ground: in the event that herbage was of high quality or scarce it might be enclosed and the enclosure rented out (R 167)

hedge                   see ‘hay’

hedgebote           see ‘haybote’

heirior                   see standard

heithorn                hawthorn (Ja, 301)

hemuse                 roe deer of the third year

herd                     a gathering of red or fallow deer (M 45 (r))

hermit                   one who lives in solitude; from Latin erēmīta, Greek έρεμίτης, a dweller in a desert (έρημία) (S269); in north-western Europe, ‘desert places’ suitable for the life of religious solitaries or small communities included forests, in many of which the documentary or material traces of their dwellings, or hermitages, are to be found

herner                   bird of prey, a falcon trained to take only heron, q.v. (S 270)

heron                    long-legged water-fowl, predator of fish and itself the quarry of the herner, q.v.

heybote                see ‘haybote’

high forest             stand of trees generally of seedling origin (L 237)

hind                      female red deer, particularly in its third and later years (M 43 (r))

hobby                   bird of prey, small species of falcon; proper for the use of youths, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); so-named from its manner of flight, from Old French hober, ‘to stir, move, remove from place to place’, Middle Dutch hobben, ‘to toss, move up and down’ (cf hobby-horse, toy in imitation of a prancing nag) (S 273)

hodd                     charcoal measure, a quarter load (L 37)

hog                       wild boar in its second year (M 43 (r))

hogstear                wild boar in its third year (M 43 (r))

holly                     prickly shrub whose bark is palatable to deer within a few days of cutting back the branches for pollards; Middle English holin, from the same root as Welsh celyn; see also ‘holm(e) [oak]’ (S 274-75)

hollyn                    holly (Ja, 301)

holm(e)                 (1) flat land by river (P 205); (2) holm(e) oak, the evergreen oak, so named from its resembling holly, q.v., whose own name was often varied phonetically to ‘holm’ or ‘holy’ (S 275)

holt                       a wood (Ja, 301)

honey                   natural produce of the forest; collected, together with wax, from the nests of bees predominantly found there (and particularly in rotting tree trunks and boughs) before the general switch to ‘domesticated’ hives; essential sweetening agent before the adoption of root and cane sugars; the Charter of the Forest (1217) allowed every free man to possess the honey found in his own woods in a forest (M 7 (v)). See ‘regard’

hono(u)r               collection of estates held by a single [typically noble] lord, not necessarily grouped geographically (R 167), with its own structure of courts, ministers, and administration

hornbeam             tree common only in Epping Forest and Enfield Chase where coppiced and lopped by commoners for fuel; very hard wood, used for chessmen, draughts, cogs, mallets
                            and rollers (E, 1958, 89, 97)

hound                   dog, especially one trained or bred for hunting, hence ‘stag-hound’, ‘fox-hound’, etc.; the word is related to Latin canis, ‘dog’, the final d of Old English hund and its predecessors perhaps due to confusion with huntian, etc., ‘hunt’, q.v. (S 279)

houndsilver           cash payment in lieu of the lawing of a dog (W 147)

housebote             right of tenants on a manor to take wood for making and repairing buildings (L 237); estover which is the common right to take wood for the repair of buildings (R 167); according to the Charter of the Forest (1217), housebote must be collected under the view of the verderers (M 9 (v)); every man may take housebote from his own woods in the forest, by view of the foresters (Co 299). See ‘bote’

hue and cry           hue, from Old English hue, huer, ‘hoot’, ‘shout’, probably from Old French hu; a forest officer unable to arrest a resisting offender against deer must call hue and cry to summon aid from local inhabitants in pursuit. Within the forest the killing of a resisting offender was not murder but outside a forest pursuers of a felon (i.e. one who took away a deer found dead), were no longer exonerated from murder (M 138 (v) – 145 (v)). See also Co 294.

hunting                  the practice and art of pursuing wild animals and birds for sport and the larder, see also ‘chase’; ‘hunt’ derives from Old English huntian, a word with Germanic antecedents (S 282); see also ‘hound’

hunting cries          elaborate system of cries used to communicate with hounds and signify different stages of the hunt (BG 229-31)

hunting horn          used by foresters and other officers as well as huntsmen, who used standardised series of blasts to supplement cries, and as symbols of office and proofs of tenure (BG 227-28 et al)

hunting music        standardised patterns of horn blasts, notated from medieval times (BG 231-34)

hunting season       period of time when animals were hunted, depending, for deer, on their fatness and the absence of fawning (in the case of hinds and does) and rutting (in the case of harts and bucks); seasons varied for different animals, and were sometimes changed (BG 253-57); for hart and buck, the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist (June 24, Midsummer) to the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Holy Rood Day (September 14); for fox, Christmas Day to the Feast of the Annunciation of Our Lady, Lady Day (March 25); for hind and doe, Holy Rood Day to the Feast of the Purification of Our Lady, Candlemas (February 2); for roebuck, Easter to the Feast of St Michael the Archangel, Michaelmas (September 29); for hare, Michaelmas to Midsummer; for wolf, Christmas to Lady Day; for boar, Christmas to Candlemas (M 45 (v))

hurdle                   woven panel of wattle, used as temporary fencing (E, 140); usually of willow cut in winter and woven in summer (Je, 80) see dole, flake

hurst                     a wood (Ja, 301)

husset                   clippings of holly fed to deer, cattle and sheep in winter (Ja, 301)



imp                       young plant, grafted plant (L 237)

inclosure               two modes of inclosure (see ‘enclosure’), were allowed in forests: of felled woods by large temporary hedges and ditches to protect regrowth against grazing deer and
                            cattle, and of licensed assarts by permanent hedges and ditches small enough to allow the passage of deer (M 67 (v)). See also ‘assart’, ‘purpresture’

ingress                  right of entrance (and exit, ‘egress’) into pastures or closed ground (R 167)

inquisition, general
large-scale judicial inquiry, e.g. into the state and supervision of forests (usually into death of deer)

inquisition, special
inquiry by coroner, q.v., into matters in which the king had an interest, e.g. a single death of a deer in a forest


                            system whereby several settlements around the edge of a wood or moorland had right of pasture in that area; sometimes a shared common was a considerable distance from some of the settlements which had a right to sue it (R 167); see also ‘commoning’, 'vicinage'

ivy                        creeping evergreen, a browse of deer and therefore an essential component of the forest vert, q.v.; original sense of the word unknown (S 310)



jercel                    bird of prey, proper for the use of a poor man, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); possibly a male goshawk, q.v. (HCT); perhaps derived from ‘tercel’, q.v.

jesse                     leather or silken strap with which the legs of a hawk or falcon were secured and fixed by thongs to the owner’s fist (St 26)

juniper                  evergreen shrub, an important browse for deer

justice in eyre, chief or king’s
see ‘forest eyre’

justice seat            supreme forest court (P 205); meeting, and meeting-place, of forest eyre (q.v.); the sitting of a forest eyre, or place where it occurred (M 232 (r))


keep                     cost of looking after a hunting dog (BG 251-52)

keeper or custos  generic term for supervisory forest officer, both superior (e.g. the warden of a forest) and local (usually the officer responsible for guarding vert and venison and presenting offenders, attached to a particular bailiwick) (Le 34); ‘forester’ (Le 67); ‘Chief Keepers of the Forests’ (one for England south of the Trent, one for the north), i.e. the chief justices in eyre for the forests, were among the principal ministers of the Crown whose appointment Edward II agreed, in his Ordinances of 1311, to make before Parliament. See 'forester'

keeper (or master) of buckhounds
an appointment in the royal retinue

kennel                  resting place of a fox (M 45 (v))

kestrel                  bird of prey, traditionally proper for the use of knaves and servants, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); a base kind of hawk, the word probably of imitative origin (S 321)

kid                       roe deer in its first year (M 44 (r))

king’s falconer      keeper of king’s falcons, ‘an office of great account’ (S 374), in Welsh ‘penhebogydd’, q.v.

knee, or knee-piece

                            curved piece of wood used in the construction of the framework of ships, normally from the large trunk [?bough] of an oak standard which had had room to spread (P 205); piece of timber having a nautral bend for use in shipbuilding (L 237)

kibble                   piece of wood as supplied to cooper or wheelwright (Ja, 301)

kid or kyd             n. bundle of brushwood; v. to bind into a bundle (Ja, 301) kidwood, material used in a kid (Ja, 301)



lanner, or lanneret
bird of prey, a species of falcon, traditionally reserved for the use of esquires, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B)

laund, see ‘lawn’

law                       (v) see ‘expeditate’

lawing                   see 'expeditate'

lawn                     enclosed pasture within forest, originally to provide grazing and hay for deer (P 205); open grassy space in woodland where deer would naturally congregate; sometimes (e.g. in Duffield Frifth) launds appear to have been separately paled and used for mowing grass (R 167); pasture, forest pasture (L 237)

lay over                deliberate distortion of a tree to obtain compass timber (Ja, 301)

lea                        woodland clearing (L 237)

leader                   main upright shoot at the top of a growing tree (E, 178)

leaf litter                dry leaves, esp. beech, for bedding of fowls and animals (E, 142) see bracken

leap                      see ‘deer leap’

leasehold              status [of] property or land which was [under] tenure by lease either for life, lives, or a stated term (R 167)

lesses                   excrement of a boar, reported on by foresters (M 46 (r))

levant and couchant

                            definition of the number of beasts a person could put out to common pasture as being what could be supported ‘standing and lying’ on his own land over winter; measure of common rights consisting originally of the number of commonable animals permitted on a tenement [which later] referred to the number of commonable beasts that could be maintained through the winter by a tenant on land on which he had common rights (R 167-8). See ‘common’

leveret                  hare in its first year (M 43 (r))

ley                        land, often open-field stips, temporarily under grass (P 205); area of arable land temporarily converted to grass in order to provide stock with sufficient food (R 168)

liberty                   also known as ‘franchise’, the exemption by royal decree from general provisions or regulations, whether judicial, commercial, or ecclesiastical, by which powers could be exercised and appointments made locally (e.g, within manors) by lords, burgesses, clerics, or corporations, or regionally (e.g. within honors); exemption might also be claimed as prescriptive, i.e. existing from time memorial; see also ‘palatine’

licence                  warrant; verbal (‘in law’), written (‘in fait’) or as attached to office (‘by prescription’) permission to hunt or hawk, first two for a    particular kind of deer in a designate
                            forest at a stipulated time; to individuals for pleasure, or with servants and therefore for profit, including the right to carry the dead beast away. Only the king or other
                            sovereign lord could licence hunting in his forests; a chief justice of the forest could licence a person to hawk or hunt on his own land in a forest (M 124 (v) – 132 (r)). See
                            ‘fee deer’

lieutenant              deputy, person acting or holding on behalf of a superior. There were two forest lieutenants: that of the Warden and, after 32 Henry 8 c. 35, that of the Chief Justice in Eyre
                            north or south of the Trent (q.v.) (M 218 (v))

ligging                   lair of a hunted beast, especially a wildcat (BG 235)

limer; limehound

                            scenting hound held on a leash (BG 235-37); = bercelet? (T 144)

ling                       see ‘heather’

lip work                articles such as baskets made from straw bound into rolls with bramble or other flexible fronds (Je, 151)

load                      50 true cubic feet of timber (E, 178); wood measure (usually 50 cubic feet); charcoal measure (variable) (L 238)

lodge                    (n) place where hunter or hunting party may take lodging and/or refreshment; place of habitation for keeper; (v) resting up of a buck (M 45 (v))

lodge-keeper        person charged with maintaining lodge, q.v.

lops                      branches of tree cut from trunk after felling (P 205)

lop and top           branches cut from upper parts of a tree, or to do so (Ja, 299) see cord, offal wood

lopping                 heavy branch wood (Ja, 301)

low faggots           see sears

lug                        alternative name in English West Country for ‘rod’, ‘pole’ or ‘perch’, q.v., varying according to local custom; usually 16, but sometimes 15, 18, 20 or 21 feet; e.g. in Gloucestershire 18 (six yards) and in Herefordshire 21 (seven yards) (OED); 18 feet in Cranborne Chase, Dorset (Whitlock, 116)

lug-acre                a square lug, rod, pole or perch (OED), at 16 per standard acre (C, 48)



madness               hounds were believed to suffer from seven madnesses, or forms of sickness (BG 237-39)

maiden                  tree which has been neither lopped, pollarded nor coppiced (L 238)

mainpernor           person to whom an offender is delivered by mainprise (q.v.) (Sw 507)

mainprise, mainprize
process of delivering a person to sureties or pledges who undertake to produce him again at a future time, without prior lawful imprisonment (Sw 507, M 214 (v) - 215 (r) and 238 (r)). See 'attachment', ‘bail’

man(n)er, mainour, maynour
necessary condition of arrest for a forest offence under 25 Edw 3 ch. 12: ‘a man was said to be taken with the manner:- for venison, when he had wounded a wild beast, and was found with a hound drawing after him to recover it; when he was found at a stand ready to shoot at a deer, or with greyhounds on a leash ready to slip; when he had killed a beast, and was found carrying it away; when he was found in a forest is a suspicious manner, and was bloody; and for vert, when he was found cutting or carrying it away.’ (F 79); specified mode of arrest allowing imprisonment for forest offences, stipulated in 1 Edw 3 s1 c8 [Manwood lists them as already given from Fisher] (M 12 (r) and 133 (v) - 134 (r)); ‘taken with the mayneer [or maner or maynour]’ was requisite for imprisonment for offences against venison under 21 Edw 3 c48 (Co 294).

manor                   originally a territorial unit of land held by an overlord, later in the Middle Ages it had the much looser meaning of any economic unit of land which could consist of all demesne land without tenants (R 168)

manorial court       lords of manors had the right to hold courts (see also Court Baron and Court Leet) presided over by their steward; the records were kept in manor(ial) court rolls (R 168)

maple                   field maple (‘arabilis’) or, later, sycamore? (T 134 et al)

mappil                  maple (Ja, 301)

mast                     fruit of beech, oak and other forest trees used as food for swine (P 205); fruits of oak and beech (used for fattening swine in summer) (L 238); fruits of beech, oak and sweet chestnut used for fattening pigs, either collected for them or fed from the ground (E, 141)

mastiff, mastinus

                            large powerful dog, usually of mixed breed, capable of hunting wolves and wild boar, of damaging deer, and of protecting property. The English word was not in common use until the late C18th (BG 239-40) (T 145). See also 'expeditate'

maynour               see ‘man(n)er’

meadow               area on which hay was grown and dried to provide fodder for livestock during the winter, and from which livestock were excluded until the hay had been cut, dried, and removed (R 168)

measures              see 'forest measures'

meer, mere           boundary mark (P 205); boundary often delineated by mere stones (the word is also used to refer to a pond) (R 168); markers or meres of forest boundaries, which though open were ‘as if they were a brick wall’, belonged to the king and were irremovable, known by record (perambulation) or prescription (M 10 (v) - 11 (r)). See ‘bounds’

menée                  line followed by a hunted stag; the challenge of a hound when on the line; a note sounded on a hunting horn (BG 240-42)

merlin, or marlyon (obsolete)
bird of prey, falco columbarius; the smallest European falcon, proper for the use of Ladies according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); preferred prey is other birds, frequently takes birds larger than itself (HCT)

mete                     (v) measure, (n) boundary as in ‘mere’, q.v. (R 168). A statute, 6 Edw 1, gives the crown rights over the metes and bounds of a forest, to be understood as applying to ‘metes inclusive, as ways, rivers, &c’, but not to ‘metes exclusive, as churches, churchyards, chapels, mills, houses, trees &c, which bound the forest, but are excluded from any jurisdiction’ [a distinction seemingly based in the statutory stipulation that forest metes and bounds must be ‘irremovable marks’, whereas the latter are removable] (Co 318).

metes and bounds
                            see 'mete'

mew                     (1) casting of antlers (BG 243); (2) cage or stable for falcon, q.v., hence ‘Mews’, where falcons were kept by the King’s Falconer, q.v, particularly at moulting time (St 30); from Latin mutare, ‘to change’ (S 374)

mine                     place where minerals are extracted by excavation

miner                    person who prospects for, and extracts minerals; see also ‘free miner’

moket                   pannage, q.v. (L 238)

mongwode            mixed wood (L 238)

moot                     stump or stool of a tree (Ja, 301)

murrain                 originally a catch-all term for animal diseases (R 168)

muse                     opening in a fence though which a hare or other animal is accustomed to pass (BG 243)

musket                  a bird of prey, a small hawk, proper for the use of ‘holy water clerks’, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); male sparrowhawk, q.v. (HCT); from Latin musca, ‘a fly’ (cf German gras-mücke, ‘hedge-sparrow’, literally ‘grass-midge’) (S 392)



needle wood         collective term for needle-bearing conifers (Ja, 301)

numbles, or umbles

                            parts of a deer between the thighs, usually considered to be the right of the huntsman after a kill; made into (h)umble pie (BG 244)

nutting                  custom of gathering nuts on Holy Rood Day, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, first day of the open season for the hunting of hart and buck.
                           See ‘hunting season’



oak                       tough wood, used for load-bearing members, wheel spokes &c (Je, 113)

offal wood            cord wood or lop and top (Ja, 302)

officer                  strictly, the necessary judicial personnel of forest courts, i.e. verderers, foresters, regarders, agisters and woodwards (M 23 (v)), but supplemented by ministerial
                            functionaries such as wardens, axebearers, bowbearers and rangers and their deputies

otter                     beast of warren, probably mainly hunted for its skin and to protect fish (BG 244)

outlaw                  person declared to be outside the protection of the law; person committing an offence in a forest where he did not live could not be tried in the courts of that forest, but was outlawed at the instigation of its swanimote, making his goods and chattels forfeit and removing the protection of the law from him (M 225 (v) - 226 (r))

outwinterers          cattle which stayed out throughout the winter. The wood pasture with its added protection would enable outwintering (R 168)

outwoods             tract of land on the outskirts of a forest (R 168)



palatine, palatinate
originally pertaining to a palace, thus ‘such as have any special office or function in a sovereign prince’s palace’ (S 423); descriptive of a noble (in England a duke, earl, or bishop) having (quasi-)sovereign, princely powers and status, and hence of the area over which those powers obtained

pale                      originally associated with a deer-proof fence, but can refer to the whole boundary of a deer park – ditch, bank and fence (R 168)

pannage                pasturage of swine (also right of, payment for): acorns, beech-mast, etc., as food for swine (P 205); right to graze pigs in woodland, usually chargeable (see also ‘tack’) (R 168); feeding swine in the woods in autumn; payment for so doing (L 238); money received by agisters for the feeding of commoners’ pigs on acorns and mast (M 87 (r) - 90 (v)); the acorn and mast itself, or the profit from it. Agisting swine must be ringed. Private woods in a forest were subject to the same restrictions as agistment. According to the Charter of the Forest (1217), pannage was by permission of the forest justices, at one or two pence per pig (M 9 (v)). See ‘agistment’, ‘ringed swine’

parfet                    horn note signifying that hounds were on the right line (BG 244-45)

parfytieres             last relay of hounds uncloupled in a chase (BG 245-46)

parish                   originally an ecclesiastical division, a district under one pastor enjoying full possession of all the rights of a parochial church, including the district’s tithes; later a unit of local government when the officers of the vestry, elected by the parishioners to supervise church affairs, took charge of public services, e.g. poor relief and upkeep of roads, by national edict

park                     (1) enclosed area in a forest where deer may be collected (entering via ‘leaps’, q.v.) and ‘parked’ for protection and maintenance; (2) enclosed area outside a forest in which rights of hunting are enjoyed by a lord, often treated to landscaping in the seventeenth and later centuries; area surrounded by a rail, pale or hedge within which beasts of the forest belonged to the franchisee. That a franchise of park could be granted only by the king was reasserted in 1404. Commoners with rights to herbage and pannage could take only that which was surplus to the needs of the game in winter and summer; if there were no such surplus, ‘he that hath the herbage and pawnage cannot put any beasts in the park’ (Co 299, Es 13-14, 20); ‘park’ is a contraction of Old English pearroc, now also spelt ‘paddock’ (S 430).

parker                  forest official in charge of park(s)

partridge               bird accounted a beast of the warren

pastoral                having to do with the husbandry of livestock and its associated landscapes and regimes; from Latin pastor, ‘shepherd’, itself from pascere, ‘to feed’

pastoralism           economy and culture based on herding, see also ‘transhumance’

pasture                 land on which beasts may graze the vegetation, including wood-pasture

pawnage               see ‘pannage’

pea stick               branchy stick of about five feet, sold in bundles of about 25 (E 140)

peel                      remove bark from a tree (E, 179); to bark, to strip off bark (L 238)

penhebogydd        Welsh officer of the royal court, ‘Master of the Hawks’, fourth in rank from the king (HCT); see also ‘king’s falconer’

perambulation       established boundaries of forests and parishes (the latter being annually walked) (P 205); walked and then written account of the boundaries of manors, parishes and forests; many private [and some royal] forests did not have perambulations (R 168)

perch                    also known as ‘rod’ or ‘pole’ from the measuring instrument: (1) unit of areal measurement, equal to 30.25 sq yards (16 perches = 1 sq. chain, 160 perches = 1 acre) (E 179), see also ‘rood’; (2) unit of linear measurement, generally ranging between 15 and 24 feet, though its variations were numerous according to the nature of the land. In 1820, seven different lengths from 16.5 to 24ft were used in eight counties, six in Lancashire alone. Eight yards (24ft) was often used in fencing; the forest pole was usually seven yards (21ft) (but 25ft in Sherwood Forest), and the coppice rod six yards (18ft). The medieval ‘King’s rod’, 16.5ft, a quarter of a chain of 22yds (C, 37 and 48) was adopted as the standard or statute perch in 1820 (R 168-9). See also ‘braid’, ‘lug’. (3) a rod for a bird to sit on, the word in all three cases deriving from Latin pertica, a pole, bar, measuring rod (S 441)

peregrine falcon    bird of prey, traditionally reserved for the use of earls (B); from Latin peregrinus, ‘foreign’, ‘abroad’ (S 442)

perpresture           unlicensed inclosure or building, especially a new house within the forest (P 205); enclosure of or encroachment upon land (L 238); erection of buildings or other encroachments in or into a forest (M 73 (r) - 80 (r)). See ‘assart’, ‘waste’

perquisite              that due to the holder of an office in addition to his normal fee (P 205)

pheasant               bird accounted a beast of the warren

pig of the sounder
wild boar in its first year (M 43 (r))

pilling                    see bark stripping

pingeudo               season, between June 21 and September 14, for hunting male deer when in their prime (R 169), see 'grease'

pit-sawing             conversion of roundwood by hand-sawing in a saw-pit (L 238)

plain                     tract of unenclosed forest land with few trees (P 205); see ‘laund’ (R 169)

plantation              crop of artificially sown or planted trees (E, 179); enclosure containing trees deliberately planted, unlikely to renew themselves once felled without ground preparation and careful replanting (R 169)

plat                       see ‘plot’

plot                      (1) small area of ground and (2), by extension, measurement and mapping of land (R 169); to contrive, to map: ‘it is not unlikely that plot was sometimes an abbreviation of plotform, a variant of platform, i.e. a plan, orihinally a map or sketch of a place’, as plat was so used (S 458-9)

ploughbote or plowbote
right of tenants on a manor to take wood for making and repairing ploughs (L 238); estover (q.v.) which is the common right to take timber for implement repairs (R 169)

poach(ing)            take game contrary to legal provisions, including national laws (forest laws and then Game Laws from 1671) and local (e.g. manorial) franchise, q.v.

pole                     (1) a unit of areal or linear measurement equal to a perch, q.v., or rod; (2) a slender woody stem of a tree, usually too small to yield sawmill timber (E 179)

poll                       see ‘boll’

pollard                  (v) cut back a tree to a few feet of ground level (8-12ft, Penn 161, 4); (n) a tree so treated (E, 179); method of producing light timber in woodland pasture. Trees were cut at a height out of reach of the browsing of livestock to produce a pillar-like trunk. New growth emerged from the crown and the cycle of cutting would be anything from ten to twenty years depending on the tree species. Pollards were used in deer parks to produce a leafy fodder (R 169);(n) a tree with crown removed; (v) to remove the crown of a tree (Ja, 302)

pollenger, pollinger                                                                                                             

                            young timber pole (Ja, 302)

potter                   maker of pots, frequently a forest occupation because of the need for wood fuel for firing (n.b. place-names such as Potters Hanley in Malvern Chase, Pottersbury in Whittlewood Forest)

pourallee              see ‘purlieu’

pourluy                 see ‘purlieu’

powderwood        wood used for manufacture of gunpowder charcoal (L 238), probably usually alder and alder buckthorn (E, 1958, 86)

precursum             right to pursue a beast from outside the forest into it (T 1246)

preservator           officer appointed to protect Crown wood and timber (P 205)

prick                    footprint of a hare when being coursed (M 45 (v)). See also ‘soreth’ and ‘trace

pricket                  buck of two years old (T 147); buck in its second year (M 43 (v))

pricket’s sister      doe in its second year (M 43 (v))

puncheon              pit prop (Ja, 302)

purlieu                  land disafforested by Edward I but still subject to certain restrictions on hunting (P 205); land afforested (in the legal sense) and subsequently disafforested (L 238); lands put out of forests, and therefore no longer subject to regards, by perambulation under the Charter of the Forest (1217 and numerous confirmations) to restore them to their extent at the coronation of Henry II (1154). However, the king retained possession of deer, which must be allowed to return to forests by the owners of woods, under the control of a ranger who presented offenders at swanimote courts. By the Ordinance of the Forest (34 Edw 1) inhabitants of purlieus retained their forest common rights (M 12 (r), 146 (r) - 150 (v), 184 (r) - 187 (r), 228 (r) and (v), and 248 (r) and (v)). Coke disputed the severity of the restrictions assigned to purlieus by M and most other early authorities (Co 303, 305). See ‘purlieu man’, ‘ranger’, ‘regard’, ‘swanimote'

purlieu man           a qualified person might hunt with his own servants for three days a week in his own woods in a purlieu, but not so as to forestall the passage of deer into a forest, in pursuit
                            of deer that entered a forest, to the disturbance of forest deer, on Sunday, in fence month, out of season, at night, within 40 days before or after the king’s hunting within
                            seven miles of a forest, or if a hunting licence were operative in adjacent forest (M150 (v) - 183 (v), 227 (r) and 245 (r) and (v)).  See ‘licence’, ‘qualification’, ‘ranger’

purpresture           see ‘perpresture’

puture                   customary claim by foresters of (often weekly) meat and drink for themselves, their servants, horses and dogs, from occupiers of tenements within a forest (Nb 35); limited by 25 Ed 3, and sometimes compounded to money payment (Co 307, Cox 105)


qualification          13 Ric 2 c 13 restricted the right to hunt to people with freehold land worth 40s per annum, increased by 1 James I c 7 to £300 or high birth (M 151 (r))

quarter                  radius of a tree trunk (E, 179)

quarter-girth          one quarter of a tree’s circumference (E, 179)

quicken tree          mountain ash or rowan tree (Ja, 302)


rache                    pack hunting scenting hound (BG 246-47)

rack                      narrow pathway cut through growing trees (E, 179)

rail                       bar of timber cut for fencing

ram picked           see stag-headed (Ja, 302)

ramell, rennale       hollow pollarded tree (Ja, 302); in Galtres Forest 'copsewood' to which tenants were entitled (VCH Yorks 1, p. 504)

ranger                   forest officer responsible for returning straying deer from purlieus back within the forest pale (q.v.) [though not all forests had them] (Le 32); as with ‘keeper’, a generic term relating to both superior and local offices; officer responsible on oath for returning deer from purlieus into forests and  presenting breaches of restrictions on hunting by purlieu men to forest courts; ranger’s fee was £20 or £30 per annum and a ‘fee deer’ (M 185 (r) - 187 (r)). See ‘forest courts’, ‘purlieu’, ‘purlieu man’

receiver                official responsible for collecting revenues and other dues from tenants, on the larger estates. Receivers for certain areas accounted to a Receiver General (R 169)

recognisance         bond by which a person engages before court to observe some condition, especially appearance at higher court (P 205); written record of a bailed offender and his pledges, taken by the verderers (M 215 (v))

red deer               see ‘deer, red’

reeve                    initially an official elected by villagers, frequently unwillingly, to act as an intermediary between them and the lord of the manor; he looked after the husbandry, maintenance of the ditches, banks and hedges, and the ploughs (R 169) and [?perhaps] the impounding of animals in forest drifts (F)

regard                   inspection of a forest by regarders with foresters and woodwards, presented to the swanimote court next before and preparatory to an eyre, included vert, eyries, mines and forges, ports, harbours and the wood they shipped, dogs, nets and weapons; swarms of bees, wax and honey were also included in the charges of the swanimote and eyre where regards were enrolled (M 227 (v) and 242 (v)). The king might exempt private land and woods in a forest from regards (M 58 (r) and (v), 196 (r) and (v))

regarder                officer responsible for making triennial inspections of forests to discover trespasses (P 205); ministerial rather than judicial officer appointed by royal letters patent under oath, twelve per forest, to hold a regard and enrol all offences discovered for presentation through a swanimote to an eyre. Duties specified in the Charter of the Forest (1217); called lespegend in Canute’s Forest Charter (1016) (M 1(v), 6 (r) and (v) and 191 (r) – 200 (r))


relay                     sequence in which groups of hounds stationed along a hunting line were uncoupled for the chase (BG 248-49)

richelle                  gathering of martens (M 45 (v))

ride                       a wide forest track (E, 170); open area at core of a unitary hunting district within a forest, usually with a lodge; = walk?

rifletum                 coppice, thicket, spinney or place of bushes and thorns; osier bed (Ja, 302)

rinbold                  cropped, topped or polled tree(s) (L 238)

rind                       tree bark (Ja, 302)

ringed swine          pig with a nasal ring to prevent it from ‘rooting, delving up or turning up the kings soyle’ (M 246 (r) and (v)); see ‘pannage’

robora                  (Med. Lat.) pollard (Rackham; Thomas, pers. comm.)

rock falcon           bird of prey, traditionally reserved for the use of duke (B); supposedly a hardy, larger peregrine (q.v.) taken from inaccessible areas of coastline (HCT)

rod                       see ‘perch’ (1) and also ‘rood’

roding                  see ‘binder’

roe deer               see ‘deer, roe’

roebuck of the first head
roe buck in its fifth year (M 44 (r))

romany                 member of the itinerant peoples called ‘gipsy’ or ‘gypsy’, q.v.; the Gipsy word rom answers to Hindi dom (with cerebral d), ‘man of low caste, who gains his livelihood by singing and dancing’ (S 527)

rood                     (areal unit of measurement) area of land equal to 40 perches, 2.5 chains, 1,210 sq yds. Four roods = 1 acre (E 179); area of land equivalent to a quarter of an acre, being one furlong (220yds) long and one perch, rod, or pole (5.5yds) wide (R 169); a strip of land measuring 1 furlong (40 rods) by 1 rod (C, 37)

rotation                 period between cutting successive crops of timber trees or coppice on the same piece of ground; the age to which a crop of wood is grown before cutting (E, 179)

roundwood           logs of less than 4ft length (Penn 161, 4)

rout                      gathering of wolves (M 45 (v))

rouse                    disturb a hart from its harbour (M 45 (v)); see also ‘unharbour’

royal prerogative
sovereign’s right to reserve to himself things ‘of the most excellency, that are upon the earth’, such as gold, silver and game,  irrespective of possession of the land in or on which they are found (M 24 (r) – 27 (v))

rundle                   cylinder or roller of wood, a lopped and pollarded stem (L 238)

runt                       grub up (Ja, 304)




Stools: Coppicing cycle in an even-aged coppice
(image, Pierre le Den, from the French agricultural education network's on-line glossary)

saker, or sacre, sacret (obsolete)
bird of prey, traditionally reserved for the use of knights and above, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); from Arabic saqr, ‘a hawk’ (S 532)

sail                        upright rod of a hurdle (Je, 27)

sale                      area of timber grown for the commercial market

salter                    see ‘deer leap’

sapling                  young tree (E, 179)

scantilon               measure of the fute (footprint) of a deer (BG 253)

scot-ale                making and compulsory selling of ale by foresters to forest inhabitants, forbidden by the Charter and Ordinance of the Forest (1217, 1306) (M 6 (v) and 203 (r)) (Stagg, Wordsworth, 290-92); see
                           ‘gatherings’, ‘surcharge’

scow                    measurement of bark (word probably derived from a method of drying bark) (P 205)

scrog or shrog       area of rough brushwood or underwood (Ja, 302)

scrubbed tree        stunted or dwarf tree (Ja, 303)

scut                      tail of a hare or rabbit (M 45 (v))

sea coal                also 'pit coal' or 'stone coal'; mineral coal (Latin carbonum marinus or carbonum maritimus) as opposed to charcoal (Latin carbonum) (R 169)

sea eagle               a bird of prey, haliaeetus albicilla, whose habitat is sea coasts, valleys of large rivers, and inland lakes, once common in northern parts of England and in Scotland, and which takes fish and water birds to the size of a swan (HCT)

sear                      faggot similar to a bavin, but longer and bound with 3 weefs (Ja, 303)

seat                      also ‘form’; the resting up of a hare (M 45 (v))

sergeant                tenant who hold his property or land in return for service(s) (generally other than military) (R 169)

sess                      see 'cess'

set or sett              (v) to plant; (n) cutting used for planting (Ja, 303)

setts                      quickset, thicket or thorn (P 205)

several                  close or inclosed field (P 205)

shaw                     a small wood or spinney, especially one growing along the edge of a field (Ja, 303)

sherewood            narrow strip of woodland (Ja, 303)

sheriff                   literally ‘shire reeve’, the executive officer acting in a county on behalf of the king or earl

shrammell             twigs removed from browsewood before loading into carts (Penn 161, 4)

shread, shred, shroud or shrowd

                            prune (especially heavy, high pruning) (L 238); prune a tree (Ja, 302, 303); cut branches from a tree, especially for browse, q.v.. See ‘boll’, 'browse'

sike                      pertaining to a small manor in Brigstock, Northamptonshire (Rockingham Forest) (P 205)

single                    tail of a fallow or roe deer (M 45 (v))

singler or sanglier  boar of the fourth or later year (M 43 (r))

slang                     strip of land (used as a measure of coppice) (L 238)

slivery                   ash coppice grown to a large size, then cut into short lengths  and cleft into barrel hoop material (Ja, 303)

slop                      spale basket (Je, 53)

slot                       footprint of a hart (M 46 (r))

smokesilver           payment for the right of gathering firewood (L 238)

snare                    contrivance, usually of wire or twine, used to entrap an animal; disdained by huntsmen, but much used by poachers. (BG 257)

soar                      male fallow deer (buck) of the fourth year (T 148, after M 43 (v)); see ‘sore’

sore                      male fallow deer (buck) in its fourth year (M 43 (v)); see ‘soar’

sorel                     male fallow deer (buck) of the third year (T 148, after M 43 (v))

soreth                   footprint of a hare in plain field (M 46 (r)); see also ‘prick’ and ‘trace’

south boys            see ‘vert’

spale                     thin strips of  wood cut from 25 – 30 year old oak coppice, used to make baskets known as 'whiskets', 'slops' or 'swill' in the north and 'trugs' in the south of England (Je, 53-53). See also 'speck', 'trug'

spaniel                  small scenting dog, used particularly to send up birds to be shot (BG 255-56); see also 'law'

spar                      timber cut for a beam, bar, or rafter; general term for yards, gaffs, etc.; the original sense seems to have been ‘stick’ or ‘pole’, perhaps related to ‘spear’ (S 585)

sparrowhawk       also 'sparhawk; bird of prey, traditionally proper for the use of priests, according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B)

spay                     male red deer of the third year (H); see 'spayad'

spayad                 male red deer in its third year (M 41 (v)), see ‘spay’

spear oak             (in Epping Forest), an oak tree allowed to grow to full size, without being pollarded (Ja, 303)

speck                   boiled strips of oak woven into baskets around hazel rim and handles (E, 1958, 210), see also ‘spale'

spinney                 small copse (Ja, 303)

spire                     young timber tree reaching a considerable height before having branches (P 205)

sprag                    short pit-prop (L 238)

spray                    small material stripped off the branches of coppice and made into coal wood or bavins (Ja, 303)

spray                    see ‘bottle’

spring or spring(-)wood(s)

                            young growth or shoots of underwood after cutting (P 205); see ‘coppice’ (R 165); coppice, coppice shoot (L 238); shoot(s) from the stump(s) of felled broadleaved tree(s) or coppice stool (Ja, 303)

spurn                    spur root, main root (L 238)

squat, squatter      encroach on land, usually common, for the purpose of habitation, and the person so doing; from the meaning ‘to sit down upon the hams’, with an origin in the Latin excoactus, ‘press together’ (S 594); such encroachments were often accepted by the manorial lord as a source of revenue, especially where they were associated with industry, and could grow into settlements

stable, stand, stable-stand

                            position at which a huntsman was posted, ready to act in a relay or shoot; (last: also one of the four reasons for which men might be apprehended for poaching or trespassing) (BG 258-60); ‘stabilia’ = the besetting of a wood for taking deer or other beasts ( T 149)

stack wood          similar to cordwood, but in a heap 3ft or 3ft 6in high by 3ft 6in wide and 12ft long (Ja 304), firewood stacked ready for the cart (Penn 162, 4)

staddle, stadell      see ‘standard’

stag                      adult male red deer, technically one in its fourth year, before becoming a hart (BG 226; T 149, after M), but see 'staggon', 'great stag', and 'hart'; ‘accounted the most noble game’ (H); hart in its fifth year (M 41 (v))

staggard                (1) (fauna) male red deer, hart in its fourth year (M 41 (v)), but see 'stag'; (2) (sylviculture) wilding transported into a hedge (L 238)

staggon                 staggon or stag: adult male red deer in its fourth year (H)

stag-headed          tree with dead wood in its crown (Ja, 302)

stalking horse        originally, horse trained for the purpose and covered with trappings, so as to conceal the sportsman from the game he intended to shoot at [especially in fowling]; later a canvas figure to be stuffed, and painted like a horse grazing, but sufficiently light that it might be moved at pleasure with one hand; also ‘stalking coat’ and ‘stalking hose’ (St 30-31)

standard               tree which stands alone or above the underwood (P 205); a large tree grown in a coppice crop (E, 180); tree selected to remain standing after the rest of the stand has been felled (L 238); selected tree allowed to grow to full size in a coppice (Ja, 304)

standell, standil, standle, standrell
see ‘standard’

stannary                court of tin miners in the Forest of Dartmoor; see also ‘free miners’

start                     disturb a hare from its seat (M 45 (v))

starveling              ailing tree (Ja 304)

stern                     tail of a wolf (M 45 (v))

steward                lawyer who directed officers on court procedures (M 216 (r))

stint                      limit the number of cattle etc. allowed to be kept on commonable land (P 205)

stob                      a fence stake (E, 180)

stock                    clear ground of stumps (L 239

stock up               to grub up (Ja, 304)

stole                     young coppice shoot (Ja, 304)

stool                     base of a tree felled to produce coppice shoots (no provenance); the base or stump of a coppice tree (E, 180)

stoop                    stone post used as a boundary stone, gatepost, or stile stone; also, in Duffield Frith, Derbyshire, a wooden post used in the construction of a pale fence (R 169)

stooping                method by which falcon takes its prey, dropping at speed from a great height

store                     (v) leave young trees uncut in a coppice crop; (n) young trees so left (E, 180)

strip                      see ‘bark’

stub                      tree stump (Ja, 304)

stub(b)                  portion of trunk remaining after a timber tree was felled; stump from which underwood is grown; trunk of a pollard tree in medieval times (T 147 and 149)

sucker                  young tree arising from the roots of an older one (E, 180)

suet                      fat of red and fallow deer (M 46 (r)); see also ‘grease’ and ‘bevy grease’

suit                       (houses, wood) houses held or wood taken by right or suit of court (P 205)

summer                 large beam (L 239)

surcharge              1. oppression of inhabitants by forest officer, punishable under the Charter and Ordinance of the Forest (1217, 1306) (M 12 (r) and 203 (v)); see ‘gathering’, ‘scot-ale’;
                             2. exceed number of beasts allowed under common right (M 100 (v) - 103 (v)); when a commoner in the forest ‘putteth on more beasts than he ought’ (Co 293). See

surveyor-general of Crown lands, and of woods, forests, etc
chief officers within the Crown’s Offices of Lands and of Woods, etc.

swan                     water-bird, a beast under royal protection; the marking, of ‘upping’ of swans in the sixteenth century had to be completed in one day by the various gamekeepers along the rivers

swainmote            see ‘swanimote’

swanimote           also ‘swainmote’; court of freeholders to inquire into all offences against vert, q.v., and venison, q.v., (in purlieus as well as forests) as listed in its 45 charges (M 226 (r) –
                           228 (v)); local forest court responsible for judicial and administrative regulation of the forest (P 205); also known as swainmote; in which verderers acted as judges, and
                           presentments were made by foresters and other officers. For Manwood, the defining institution of a forest. The Charter of the Forest (9 Hen 3 st.2 c.8, 1217) stipulated
                           three annual meetings at set times related to agistment and drifts, the first to be held fifteen days before the feast of St John the Baptist’s Nativity (June 24, Midsummer) to
                           clear the forest of all animals except deer for the next month, called the fence month (q.v.), which is the fawning season. The second sitting was fifteen days before
                           Michaelmas (September 29, the autumn equinox), to receive herbage money for cattle and admit swine to feed on pannage. The third was held at Martinmas (November
                           10), when the forest was again cleared, and no animal except deer admitted from November 11 until St George’s Day (April 23), the period called the Winter Haining
                           (q.v.). Swanimotes also developed judicial functions, passing cases from attachment courts to eyres. (Co 291; Fi 29, 38-43, 77-88 and 90; G 97, 288-9; M 217 (r) and
                           230 (r) and (v); Stagg on New Forest: there(?) swainmote alternative name for attachment court). The Ordinance of the Forest (1306) and 1 Edw 3 st1 c8 (1327) required attendance by a steward and all officers, freeholders, and four men and the
                           reeve from every town and village in a forest, to conduct inquests, form juries, and assent to indictments, with amercement by the warden, beadle or sheriff for failure to
                           attend. According to Manwood, ‘no Judgement shall be given there, nor Execution awarded, for that is reserved to the Justices of the Forest’ at the next eyre (M 224 (r));
                           however, it was determined in 1531 ‘that the king may choose whether to have an action [against venison] upon [the Charter of the Forest] or to have a presentment
                           thereof in the swanimote’, which later did in fact prosecute and sentence offences up to the value of 6s8d, as well as indicting more serious offenders for sentence in higher
                           courts and jailing or taking sureties against them. Indictments in a swanimote, unlike in an attachment court and an eyre, could not be traversed (M 216 (v) – 228 (v)), Ba 9,
                           Gr 397, P 25). See also ‘agistment’, ‘attachment court’, ‘beadle’, ‘drift’, ‘outlaw’, ‘purlieu’, ‘regarder’, ‘ranger’, ‘sheriff’, ‘steward’, ‘traverse’, ‘verderer’.

swill                      spale basket (Je, 53)

swine                    pigs, grazed annually in the woods on (oak acorn, beech, or sweetchestnut) mast

swinemote            court of the pannage (L 239); see also ‘swanimote’

sycamore              hard light coloured wood used in turnery, and for clog soles by non-itinerant makers (Je, 59, 235) and for rollers (E, 1958, 47-8)

sylviculture            the practice and art of cultivating and managing trees and woodland



tack                      grazing agreement (R 170)

taleshide               faggot of round, half round or cleft branches as defined in Assize of Fuel (1553, 1601) (Ja, 304)

tal(l)wood             logs cut in 4ft lengths (Penn 162, 4)

tally-ho                 hunting cry, said to be derived from Old French equivalent of il est haut, ‘he is up’, that is, the stag has started running

tan fluing               see 'bark-stripping' (Ja, 304)

taw                       make hides into leather (BG 261)

teller                     see ‘tiller’

throw                    fell (Ja, 304)

thatch spar            forked length of thin cleft hazel or whole willow used to hold down thatch on houses, ricks and corn stacks. Sold in bundle of 50-100 (E, 140; Je, 39-40)

tenant at will          tenant established as a reward with a revocable tenure (R 170)

tenant in chief        person who held land directly from the King, often the owner of a large number of manors, in which case he might choose to sub-let, enfeof, to under tenants (R 170)

tercel                    the male of any kind of hawk, q.v. (S 636)

thickstuff               planking more than four inches thick (L 239)

thin                       remove selected young trees to benefit the remainder of a crop (E, 180)

thistletake             fee (one halfpenny per beast in sixteenth-century Galtres Forest) levied on cattle and sheep passing through a forest (W 161, VCH Yorks 1, p. 504). Compare ‘cheminage’

thriven                  see ‘evil wax’

tiller                      stool shoot, coppice shoot, sucker (L 239)

tinker                    itinerant metal worker; mender of kettles and pans, so-called because of the tinking sound, from Middle English tinken, ‘sing’ (S 649)

tithe                      legal obligation (by the eighth century) to give one-tenth of all the produce of land to the work of God, the great tithes of corn and hay and the small tithes of livestock, wool and non-cereal crops generally going to support the parish priest but sometimes to [an absentee rector or religious house with rectorial rights – the latter superseded at the Reformation by lay persons or corporations such as university colleges] (R 170)

tithing                    grouping of ten or twelve households mutually responsible for communal behaviour (R 170)

toft                       small enclosure close to a cottage (croft) (R 170)

toil                        net or snare (S); pl., ‘toils’, a hay (q.v.) in which to enclose or entangle wild beasts (S)

township               area of local administration based on a discrete settlement or collection of homesteads, usually coterminous with, or a constituent of, the parish, q.v.; see also ‘vill’

tract                      see ‘treading’

transhumance        seasonal movement of livestock to summer pastures, often upland which could also be forest (e.g. Dartmoor, Devon, and Clee Forest, Shropshire)

traverse                court plea denying an allegation in the indictment of an offence, so that the issue must be postponeed in allow further inquiry (Ba 77, Sw 832-22)

treading                footprint of a boar (M 46 (r))

treenail or trennal
wooden peg or pin (used in shipbuilding) (L 239)

trug                       spale basket (Je, 55), see also 'spale', 'speck'

turbary                  common right to dig peat for fuel from manorial waste (R 170)

turn                       convert timber by spinning it on a lathe against cutting tools (E, 180)

turnery                  the working of wood on a lathe (Je, 59)

tush                      draw timber across the ground without a carriage (E, 180)

twaite                   area of arable on grubbed up woodland (Ja, 304)

tynsell                   common right to take wood, especially for fuel (see also ‘firebote’ and ‘estover’) (R 170)

tynsell wood         small firewood suitable for use in ovens (Ja, 304)

type                      brick-lined pit into which rabbits were driven for capture, sometimes with a baited see-saw (E, 1958, 52)

tything                   see ‘tithe’, ‘tithing’


underwood           [low cover] generally consisting of holly, hazel, willow, alder, and thorn (R 170); wood standing or cut, including produce of coppice or pollarded trees (Penn 162, 4)

underkeeper         walker; person appointed under oath by a forester to look after deer and vert on his behalf (M 200 (v))

unharbour             drive a deer from its lair so that it could be chased

unkennel               disturb a fox from resting up (M 45 (v))

upping                  formal marking of swan, q.v.



vaccary                demesne cattle farm or cattle pasture (Winchester on North Country upland vaccaries; Stagg on New Forest specifies ‘grazing unit of 30 beasts... bull and 29 cows’). See ‘bercary’.

venison                 originally all beasts of the chase, effectively red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, and wild boar (R 170); game animals (L 239); any hunted beast; every beast of the forest, protected by forest law, from Latin venatio, ‘hunt’ (M 23 (r), 46 (v) and 48 (v) - 55 (v))

verderer               judicial oficer of Royal Forests (P 205); official with overall responsibility for the care of both the vert and the venison in a forest (R 170); judicial officer appointed under oath by sheriff through royal writ; four per forest; ‘the chief men’ of each forest according to the Forest Charters of Canute (1016), where they were called Paegened, and Henry III (1217); held inquests on deer found dead in forest and appraised and enrolled other damage at their attachment courts, presented rolls of attachment to swanimotes and eyres  (M 1 (r), 7 (v) and 188 (v) - 191 (r)); see ‘attachment court’, ‘swanimote’, ‘eyre’

verderor               see ‘verderer’

vermin (of the chase)
bird or animal deemed disruptive of other species (of larder and/or sport) and for that reason hunted; conflation of some beasts of chase and warren, defined in the 38th charge to an eyre as comprising foxes, martins, wild cats, polecats and squirrels (M 244 (r)); see ‘beast of the forest’

vert                      habitat for deer; trees and underwoods (R 170); green hue, green hugh: all vegetation in a forest (from Latin viriditate ‘greenness’), protected by forest law; originally of two sorts: ‘haut boys’, ‘over vert’ (trees), or ‘great wood’, and ‘south boys’, ‘nether vert’, or ‘underwood’ (M 50 (r) – 52 (r)); a third sort, ‘special vert’, emerged by the seventeenth century: ‘every tree and bush in the forest that doth bear fruit to feed the deer withal, as peartrees, crabtrees, hawthorns, blackbush, and such like… [and] the offence in destroying such vert is more higher punished’ (M fo. 53 (r)); according to the Charter of the Forest (1217), vert included trees and hedges on cultivated land in a forest (M 8 (r))

vicinage                the right to graze common waste abutting commoners’ own if it were not fenced off, and of forest deer to do the same (Le 116n)

view                     footprint of a fallow deer (M 46 (r))

vill                        discrete settlement within, or coterminous with the manor, q.v., or parish, q.v.

virgin forest           natural woodland uninfluenced by human activity (E, 180)

vomell tree            decayed tree (Ja, 304)

vulture                  large bird of prey reserved for the use of emperors according to the ‘Boke of St Albans’ (B); from Old Latin uolturus, literally ‘a plucker’ or ‘tearer’ (S 696)



walk                     district of the forest under the oversight of a keeper (P 205); see also 'walker'

walker                  official responsible for a forest walk; see ‘underkeeper’

ward                     administrative division in a forest (R 170)

warden, lord warden
chief ministerial officer of a forest, appointed by the sovereign (Le 26); chief warden; primary ministerial officer of a forest, also responsible for releasing any person unlawfully imprisoned by foresters or verderers pending appearance in attachment, swanimote or eyre court, paying treble damages through the sheriff for failure to do so, and the amercement of non-attenders at swanimotes (M 215 (r) and (v) and 217 (r) - 219 (r))

warding                guarding, or taking payment from travellers using, a road (R 170)

warrant                 written licence to take deer or other game, granted under crown authority by Lord Wardens or Chief Justices of the Forest (Le, MS additions 1)

warren                  1. (legal) one of the three lesser hunting franchises, together with chase and park; a piece of ground preserved for hunting beasts of warren (q.v.), cf. OF garenne, ‘a warren of conies, also a certain, or limited, fishing in a river’ (S); 2. (topographical) a coney warren (‘coneyburrow’) within a forest, chase or park, or standing independently

warrener               [official responsible for a warren;] master of the warren (R 170)

wash                     a path cut to mark out an area of underwood for sale. A selling wash was 3 ft wide 2.5 chains apart, a little wash 1.5 ft wide and 75 links apart (= 30 sq poles) (Ja, 304-05)

washing out           the work of making washes, for which wash money was paid (Ja, 305). See ‘wash’.

waste                   (v) unlicensed felling of underwood, wood or trees (P 205); destroy without licence trees or underwood, even if stumps are  left to spring again, or pasture in a forest (M 63 (r) – 64 (v) and 66 (r)); the ‘outrageous’ forest offence of destroying trees, distinguished from assart by the visibility of five other standing tree stumps from any particular one (ED 528); (n) unclaimed land, damage or destruction of trees, see also ‘crust’ (L 239); area of land within a manor where its tenants or those of other manors had the right to graze livestock (R 165). See also ‘assart’, ‘common’, ‘purpresture’, ‘vert’, ‘wood’.

watergate              deer-proof barrier across a watercourse which cut through a deer park boundary (R 170)

wattle                   cleft sticks used to make hurdles, usually of hazel, but sometimes willow, which might be used in the round (E, 140; Je, 26)

wattling                 fencing or the core of walls made up with flexible softwood strips; see ‘wattle’

waverer                young tree left standing when the coppice wood has been cut (P 205)

wax                      product of the forest, made by bees together with honey, q.v.; essential material for creating artificial lighting

weald                   see ‘wold’

weeding                (sylviculture) early thinning (L 239)

weef, withe or wither                                                                                                            

                             pliable shoot of birch, hazel or willow used to tie faggots, bavins and sprays (Ja, 305)

welsh quicksets     wildings (L 239)

weygafol               see ‘cheminage’

whisket                 spale basket (Je, 53)

white wood           broadleaved species (not oak) for charcoal burning (L 239)

wild boar              valued medieval quarry, extinct by early modern times BG 264-65)

wild cat                 beast of warren, hunted as vermin (BG 265-66)

wildwood             see ‘virgin forest’

willow                  tree yielding wood very light in weight and resistant to splitting, hence used in cricket bats (E, 1958, 90)

windfall                 windthrown tree or branch (L 239)

withy                    long flexible willow or osier rod, cut from one year growth from boles reduced to ground level, usually harvested from withy beds planted at 18,000 – 24,000 per acre, and boiled to remove bark (E 140; Je, 43)

wrangle                 see dotard (Ja, 305)

wrassel oak          decayed or stag headed tree (Ja, 305)

wodegavell or wodekevyll
see ‘woodgavol’

wold                     a word which came to mean plain open country, e.g. a down, and already in Layamon’s Brut used as an alternative for ‘field’, but originally the same as Middle English wald, Old English wald, weald, ‘wood’, ‘forest’ (S 720); it is a matter of conjecture, then, that areas such as the Cotswolds, and Bruneswald (on the borders of Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire), were once as wooded as the Kent/Surrey/Sussex Weald and places of hunting, gathering, and grazing

wolf                      although a beast of venery, considered to be vermin and hunted to extinction before 1500 (BG 266)

wolf tree               a misshapen tree that outgrows and suppresses its neighbours (E, 180)

wood                   (i) area occupied by trees; (2) product of cultivated trees; see also ‘wold’; every wood in a forest provided shelter for venison; the Lord Chief Justice of the Forest might give license to fell trees under the surveillance of  foresters, but they could not be destroyed, and stumps must be left to spring again (M 23 (r)); group of trees which do not touch each other (M 59 (r) - 63 (v)), i.e. as distinct from ‘covert’, q.v.

woodatchet           wooden utensil(s) (L 239)

woodgafol            money given in lieu of wood carrying services (L 239)

wood bank           boundary bank surrounding (or sub-dividing) a wood, with an external ditch (R 170)

woodhen              hen given in payment for right to gather wood (L 239)

wood[-]pasture     tree-land on which farm animals or deer were grazed (R 170)

woodmote            court for hearing cases of trespass (R 170), see ‘attachment court’

woodsilver            see ‘woodgafol’

woodward            officer appointed for the management and sale of Crown wood and timber; gamekeeper in private forest woods swearing fealty to the King’s Game (P 205); official, a reeve, responsible for preventing trespass or theft in a forest (R 170); forester, man in charge of, or caring for woods (L 239); keeper of a forest wood, who must present any offenders against vert, q.v., and venison, q.v., in that wood to the attachment court; according to the Charter of the Forest (1217), failure by a private woodward in a forest to report a dead deer found in his wood led to forfeiture of the wood to the king (M 9 (v) and 210 (r) and (v))

wormtak               payment due for compulsory feeding of swine of bond tenants in the lord’s wood in autumn (L 239)

wreath                  tail of a boar (M 45 (v))

wyndfal                 see ‘windfall’

wyures                  large beams (L 239)


BG                       The Master of Game: The oldest English book on hunting, by Edward, second Duke of York; ed. by Wm. A. and F. Baillie-Grohman (London, Chatto & Windus, 1909). In large part a translation from Gaston III Phoebus, Count of Foix (1331-91), Phébus, des déduiz de la chasse des bestes sauvaiges et des oyseaux de proye

C                          R. D. Connor, The Weights and Measures of England (London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1987)

Co                        Edward Coke, The Fourth Part of the Institutes of the Laws of England (5th edn, London, 1671)

Cr                        Arthur Lyon Cross, Eighteenth-Century Documents Relating to the Royal Forests, the Sheriffs and Smuggling: Selected from the Shelburne Manuscripts in the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan Publications, History and Political Science 7 (New York/London, Macmillan, 1928)

Cox                      J. Charles Cox, The Royal Forests of England (London, Methuen, 1905)

E                          H. L. Edlin, Forestry and Woodland Life (London, Batsford, 1947)

E, 1958                H. L. Edlin, England’s Forests: A survey of the woodlands old and new in the English and Welsh counties (London, Faber and Faber, 1958)

ED                       Exchequer Dialogue (c. 1180), Richard fitz Nigel, Dialogus de Scaccario, trans. in N. D. G. James, A History of English Forestry (Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1981)

EHD                     David C. Douglas and George W. Greenaway, English Historical Documents 1042-1189 (London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1953), pp. 490-569

F                          William Richard Fisher, The Forest of Essex (London, 1887)

Fl                         Rick Fletcher and Bert Udell, Glossary of Woodland Terms, the Woodland Workbook, Oregon State University Extension Service,, accessed December 29, 2005

Gr                        Raymond Grant, ‘Forests’, in Elizabeth Crittall (ed.), Victoria History of the County of Wiltshire, 4 (London, Oxford University Press, 1959), pp. 391-460

G                          William H. P. Greswell, Forests and Deer Parks of the County of Somerset (Taunton, Barnicott & Pearce, Athenaeum Press, 1905)

H                          [William Harrison, 1534-93] Harrison's Description of England in Shakespere's youth: Being the second and third books of his Description of Britaine and England / Ed. from the first two editions of Holinshed's Chronicle, A.D. 1577, 1578, by Frederick J. Furnivall (London, N. Trubner for New Shakespeare Society, 1877-8), Book 3, Chapter 7

HCT                     Hawk Conservancy Trust,, accessed December 29, 2005

HoC                     House of Commons Journal

Ja                         N. D. G. James, A History of English Forestry (Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1981)

Je                         J. Geraint Jenkins, Traditional Country Craftsmen (London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, rev. edn., 1978)

L                          William Linnard, Welsh Woods and Forests: A History (Llanysul, Gomer, 2000)

Le                        Percival Lewis, Historical Inquiries, Concerning Forests and Forest Laws, with Topographical Remarks, upon the Ancient and Modern State of the New Forest (London, T. Payne, 1811)

M                         John Manwood, A Treatise of the Lawes of the Forest (London, The Society of Stationers, 1615)

N                         Neilson, Nellie, ‘The Forests’, in James Willard and William Morris (eds.), The English Government at Work, 1327-1336, 1 (Cambridge, Mass., Medieval Academy of America, 1940), pp. 394-467

Nb                       Thomas Newbigging, History of the Forest of Rossendale (London, Simpkin Marshall, 1868)

OED                    Oxford English Dictionary

P                          Philip A. J. Pettit, The Royal Forests of Northamptonshire: A study in their economy, 1558-1714, Publications of the Northamptonshire Record Society 23 (1962-3) (Gateshead, Northumberland Press, 1968)

Pam                     David Pam, The Story of Enfield Chase (Enfield, Enfield Preservation Society, 1984)

R                          Mary Wiltshire, Sue Woore, Barry Crisp and Brian Rich, Duffield Frith: History and evolution of the landscape of a medieval Derbyshire Forest (Ashbourne, Landmark Publishing, 2005)

Rackham              Oliver Rackham, History of the Countryside, etc.

Reeves             Richard Reeves (ed.), Use and Abuse of a Forest Resource, New Forest Documents 1632-1700, New Forest Record Series 1 (2006), pp. 224-25.

S                          Walter W. Skeat, An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language (4th edn, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1909, repr. 1963)

Sh                        Evelyn Shirley, Some Account of English Deer Parks (London, 1867)

Sp                        J. H. Baker (ed.), The Reports of Sir John Spelman, 1, Selden Society 93 (London, 1977)

Stagg                   D. J. Stagg (ed.), A Calendar of New Forest Documents 1244-1334, Hampshire Record Series 3 (1979), pp. 243-45.

St                         Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, from the earliest period, including the rural and domestic recreations, May games, mummeries, pageants, processions and pompous spectacles, illustrated by reproductions from ancient paintings in which are represented most of the popular diversions. New edn, much enlarged and corrected by J. Charles Cox (London, Methuen, 1903)

Sw                       Charles Sweet, A Dictionary of English Law (London, Henry Sweet, 1882)

T                          J. G. Turner, Select Pleas of the Forest (London, Selden Society, 1901)

Thomas, R.           Rachel Thomas, doctoral research and publications on Bernwood Forest

W                         Ralph Whitlock, Historic Forests of England (London, Book Club Associates, 1979)

Winchester          Angus Winchester, ‘Vaccaries and agistment: upland medieval forests as grazing grounds’, in John Langton and Graham Jones (eds), Forests and Chases of Medieval England and Wales c.1000-c.1500 (Oxford, St John's College Research Centre, 2010), pp. 109-24).

Wordsworth        Christopher Wordsworth, ‘Customs of Wishford and Barford in Grovely Forest’, Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine 35 (1907-8), pp. 283-316.

Y                          Charles Robert Young, The Royal Forests of Medieval England (Leicester, Leicester University Press, 1979)

Latin terms

Anne Rowe, Medieval Parks of Hertfordshire (Hatfield, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2009), pp. 232ff.

Aestivalis (estivalis) - summer

Agistment/agistamentum – payment for grazing of beasts

Amputatio – a pruning, lopping of branches

Aucupatio (aucupacio) – wildfowling, profits from wildfowling

Averium – cattle, livestock

Barbare, berdare – to point, set a fence with spikes

Bestia – farm animal, beast of the chase

Boscus – wood

Bovettus – young steer

Bovicolus – bullock

Brusca – brushwood, scrub, thicket

Claudere – to close, enclose

Clausura – enclosure

Cortex – bark

Crescentia – growth, production

Croppa – clippings from trees or hedges, crop, harvest, harvest of trees felled for timber

Cunicularium – rabbit warren

Cuniculus – rabbit

Custus parci – costs of the park

Dama (damma) – doe

Damus – buck (fallow)

Depassare, depascere – to graze, depasture

Depastatio – depasturing/depastured, grazing down/grazed down

Dumetum – scrub

Dumus – thorn-bush, thorn-hedge, thicket, brambles, bushes

Emendare – to repair

Equus – horse

Esca – fuel for fire, tinder

Escaeta (escheat) – wood fallen from tree (?pollarded branches)

Escorchiare – to strip a tree of bark

Escurare – to scour, to clean (ponds, ditches)

Estivalis, estivatio – summer, pasturing of beasts in summer

Fagotare – to split wood

Fagotus – faggot – bundle of rods, twigs or split wood used for fuel

Fagus – beech tree

Falcatio – mowing, measure mown in one day

Fenum (faenum) – hay

Ferus, ferinus – wild animals – usually, in a park context, meaning deer

Fermesona (fermisco) – close season for hunting

Findere – to cleave, split

Focale – fuel

Fossa/fossatum/fossus – ditch, dike, moat, embankment

Fraxinus – ash tree

Frondicus/frondeus – covered with leaves, leafy

Frumentum – wheat

Glans – an acorn, beechmast, chestnut, mast

Grava – grove, wood

Haia – hedge

Hardbeam/harinebem/hernbemis – early-modern English for hornbeam

Herbagium/herbage – right to cut grass or to pasture/payment for pasture

Heybote (haibota) – right to take wood to make or repair fences

Hiemalis (yemalis) – wintry

Hiems – winter

Housebote (husbota) – wood for repairing houses, the right to take such wood

Jumentum – mare, draught animal

Landa – open grassland, especially in parkss or woodland clearings

Laund – Norman French word for open unwooded field, pasture. Origin of modern English word ‘lawn’.

Logia – lodge

  Custus logi’ – costs of the lodge

Loppa – twigs

Loppare – to cut off, trim; pollarding; lopping or cutting branches off a tree.

Marc – sum of money (13s 4d)

Meremium (maeremium) – timber

Morbosium – dead wood

Palicii parci – park pales

Palicium – fence, paling

Palus – pale, stake

Parcarius – parker, park keeper

Parcus – park, pound, pinfold

Parrock – an enclosure or paddock, perhaps for coursing deer

Pascere – to feed, graze

Pascua – feedings, pastures

Pastura – pasture, right of pasture

Perdix – partridge

Pertica – a perch = a highly variable linear measure of between 9 and 26 feet but when standardised           

                               measured 16½ feet

Pessona (nulla pessona) – acorn and beechmast crop (no acorn or beechmast crop)

Pindfalda, pinefalda – pound, pinfold

Plashing – laying a hedge

Porcus – pig

Porta – gate

Posterna – postern (back) gate

Prati – meadowland, grassland

Prosternere – to fell, cut down

Prostration – felling, felled

Pullanus – colt, foal

Querculus – young oak, oak sapling

Quercus – oak tree

Rakk/rakke – rack, racks

Ramus – branch, bough

Re-ficere – to make again, repair

Salix (salics) – willow

Sarratio – sawing

Sarraror – sawyer

Savagnie – beasts of the forest [Norman or Old French] – I have more usually seen this rendered as ‘sauvagine’.

Scapulatio – the squaring of logs with an adze (scappling)

Scindere – to split, cleave

Scurant’/scurand – see Escurare

Secare – to cut

Sepes, sepus (sepum) – hedge, fence

  Sepe mortua/sepie morte – dead hedge

Spinus – blackthorn,  sloe tree, thorns

Splentare – to fir with laths (split timbers used to repair park plaes)

Staca (staka, stakis) – stake – used to make new fences

Stagnum – pond

Stokko – to stub up

Stot(t) – plough beast

Stramen – straw

Stramen pisae (straminis pis) – pea straw

Subboscus – underwood, undergrowth, brushwood

Succidere (succindere) – to cut down (trees &c)

Tinare – to tine, furnish with spikes (as in a new park fence)

Turba – turf, peat

Turbare – to turf

Vacca – cow

Venatio – hunting

Venator  - hunter

Vepres – a thorn bush, brier bush, bramble bush

Vetus – old, ancient

Virgata/virge – a linear measure of three feet

Virga (virge) – rod (rods or coppice poles)

Virgultum – brushwood/cuttings of trees, small rod, withy

Vitulus – calf

Vivarius – fish-pond, stew

Warecta – fallow (land)

Warrenarius – warrener

Yemalis (hiemalis) – of or for winter.

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