Scorching summer weather exposes hidden path in forest

PUBLISHED: 13:48 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:05 31 August 2018

The path has been uncovered after the hot and dry weather. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

The path has been uncovered after the hot and dry weather. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

Archaeologists working for the National Trust are planning to dig in Hatfield Forest for the first time in more than 25 years after the discovery of a path thought to date back to the 1700s.

The path was uncovered during the hot and dry weather. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe path was uncovered during the hot and dry weather. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archaeologists working for the National Trust have been digging in Hatfield Forest for the first time in more than 25 years after the discovery of a path thought to date back to the 1700s.

Visitors were able to see the excavation of the newly-exposed path, which follows a route walkers still use today, performed by a small team of archaeologists and volunteers on August 20 and 21.

The exceptionally hot and dry weather this summer caused scorching on the grass which led to the discovery of the path which could provide an insight into the history of the 2000-year-old forest, a former royal hunting forest.

Ranger Ian Pease, who discovered the path, said: “I was so excited to find this path. I’ve worked here for 25 years and never noticed it before. It leads from the Shell House by the lake into Collins Coppice and has a definite camber.

The path was uncovered during the hot and dry weather this summer. Picture: CONTRIBUTEDThe path was uncovered during the hot and dry weather this summer. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

“There is little doubt that this would have been a carriage drive route from the Houblon Estate to the lake area in the forest. It makes me think about the many people who would have used the path all those years ago and how the forest has changed. I hope we will be able to learn more about how the history of the forest and how it was used.”

Archaeologist, Shannon Hogan said: “Excavating this newly-exposed path gives us the opportunity to investigate a little piece of Hatfield’s history as well as addressing some important conservation issues in the forest.

“The route of this former carriageway is still followed by walkers and runners today and by digging areas of the path, we can better understand the way in which it was first constructed in the 18th century and also assess how well it is surviving beneath the busy footfall today. Then we can decide how best to preserve the ancient path for the future of the forest.”

For more information on Hatfield Forest log on to the website www.nationaltrust.org.uk/HatfieldForest.

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