FROM SCRATCHWOOD TO WYCHWOOD

What's in a Name?

break-down of Roman administration, and the coming of the Saxons, the neighbourhood went downhill, and the wood reasserted itself. It seems the Saxons didn't have much effect on things, perhaps because of skulking Celts, and the Wychwood waited for the coming of the Normans who imposed their management techniques, assarting chunks of the forest (an assart is/was a new field chopped out of woodland). Of course, by this time, Wychwood was known as one of the great hunting forests, and the Normans were as keen on hunting as the Anglos, so they gave the wood some protection.

The major reduction in the acreage of Wychwood occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as part of the Enclosures.

A lot of books about the Wychwood assert that the name derives from the Hwicce, a tribe of Saxons who were known to have strong Romano-Celtic connections. Unfortunately, the Hwicce were based much further West, in the region of DroitWICH and NantWICH, and it seems unlikely that they needed to come this far for firewood.

More likely the name comes from wich, Anglo-Saxon for salt. There are salt pans in the wood, and the right of local peasants to collect an annual salt ration is attested by medieval documents. Not nearly so much fun, is it?

The truth is, the Wychwood belongs in the unenlightened imagination, where no fact can sully the perfect fantasy, where magic reigns over the mundane, where dreams or nightmares happen.

Let's leave it there.

End of Scratchwood to Wychwood section.
Move on to the Wessex section.

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