Warren Wood

Project Background

The history of the name Warren Wood is somewhat surprising. A Warren was originally an animal enclosure, not just for rabbits. Interestingly there was a Warren Baronetcy of Little Marlow – which was created on 1 June 1775 for the naval commander and politician John Borlase Warren. There seems to have been two lines of local Warren baronets since that time.

Our latest report is on a section dug across the outer enclosure bank and ditch.

Click here to download the earlier site report. If you experience problems downloading the pdf with Internet Explorer, try using a different browser such as Google Chrome.

Upcoming dates of our regular excavations are shown on the right-hand menu of this page and we are also keeping a Blog of our investigations (also see our Upcoming Events link).

The investigations at Warren Wood were started as part of AiM’s ROMADAM (Recording of Marlow and District’s Ancient Monuments) Project, which was funded by the Local History Initiative. The Warren Wood Project began in 2005 with the surveying of a double enclosure, defined by ditches and banks, near the top of a wooded Chiltern hill, near Little Marlow.

The inner enclosure is roughly circular with a diameter of approximately 50 metres. A bank feature, possible an entrance way, sits in the north-west corner. The outer enclosure is nearly twice the size of its inner counterpart. The enclosures stand approximately 100 metres above sea level and the River Thames is a mile or so from the base of the hill.

Additionally we have found a third definite and fourth possible enclosure in the wood, those these are more rectangular and one has its ditches on the inside of the bank (possibly to keep animals in) as opposed to the others with their ditches on the outside (probably to keep animals out)

Excavating at Warren Wood
Excavating at Warren Wood

The local geology of the area is glacial sand and gravel, lying over Upper Chalk.

There are local stories of a family living nearby, plus a barn that existed almost until recent times, though we have found no documentary evidence to support these claims.

The current theory is that the site is likely to have been the home of a stock-man, or gamekeeper, possibly with a family that occupied the building (maybe with a barn or annex?). The outer enclosure seems likely to have been built to keep and protect domestic or wild animals.

Dating of the roof tile and pottery puts the site into medieval times, between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. There is a possibility that the hill was not wooded in those days as records only trace it back to around 1700 and many woods were planted in this period.

There are at least six similar enclosures in Buckinghamshire all on hills in woodlands and all at approximately the same height. There is speculation that they may have been occupied by gamekeepers who kept either pigs, milking cows for commercial reasons, or deer, or wild boar, for hunting.

AiM submitted a plan to the County Archaeologist and eight test pits were dug (four in the inner enclosure, four in the outer enclosure). The large amount of roof tile found in the test pits in the inner enclosure shows there must have been a reasonably large roofed structure(s). The discovery of late Bronze Age/early Iron Age pottery was an unexpected surprise (see a reconstructed part of a pot, below, which had an internal diameter of 30cms) .

 In total, more than 50 kilograms of artefacts were unearthed at the site and identification and dating results are awaited from an outside professional organisation. These results have now been received and a report has been published for AiM members (see above to download this report) and the official report has been forwarded to the S.M.R. in Aylesbury.

AiM concluded its excavations at Warren Wood in November 2011.

Although our programme of work finished in November 2011, and is summarised in the report that can be located via the link at the top of this page, you can find further details about the next stages of our work at Warren Wood by clicking on the ‘Upcoming Events’ tab.

Latest News about Warren Wood

If you experience problems downloading the pdfs with Internet Explorer, try using a different browser such as Google Chrome.

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Exploring the Archaeology and History of Marlow