I am always trying to find out more about the history of the local area and in particular Ninewells wood.
It not only covers the Wye valley but also surrounding areas like the Forest of Dean and what he calls the ‘Trellech-Wentwood plateau’ in which the area of Ninewells wood is found.
I have so far come across one direct reference to Ninewells and it is on page 152. It says
‘ the 1810 Enclosures Act covered 4,200 acres of waste and wood in Penalt, Trellech, Tintern, Cwmcarvan, Llandogo, and Llanishen. Latterly Earlswood, Coed Llifos and much of Wisewood became farmland, Wentwood, Chepstow Park and Hale Wood became coppices, Beacon Hill Ninewells and others passed through heath and grassland to become plantations, leaving just Cleddon Bog and smaller fragments as heathy common.’
So what does that mean exactly? My interpretation is that sometime before 1810 Ninewells was woodland then it changed (passed through) into heath and grassland. Then it was planted up as a plantation woodland at some latter date. This plantation could be conifers, or maybe deciduous or indeed a mixture.
Reference to old Ordinance survey maps shows that in 1881 it was wooded and that it was probably largely deciduous. Link to earlier article on maps. Then in a later map of 1922 it seems to indicate a change from Deciduous into something else, maybe rough ground or maybe pine, its difficult to identify the symbols exactly. Anyway the point is that there were trees there in 1881 so sometime between 1810 and 1881 it passed into heath and then was restored to some sort of woodland.
It is perhaps noteworthy that after I removed the Corsican pines in 2014 shortly afterwards lots of Heather (Calluna) appeared along with Heath Bedstraw. Bracken and Bilberry were already present under the conifers but obviously increased with the benefit of more light, so almost immediately after felling a heathland community was established.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that the past management of woodlands is often not recorded or even if it was, it is now difficult to find. This is why I am recording what I do to my part of Ninwells wood and why I will soon transfer this blog into a paper copy. There is a good chance that technology will move on a blogs and the internet will in 50 or 100 years time be a distant memory and all the stuff that has been recorded will no longer be accessible. Whereas the printed word and photos are much more likely to survive.