Protecting the historic forest environment for the future

Smithy Beck Longhouse - heritage

Whether it was Howard Carter opening up Tutankhamun tomb for the first time or Edith Pretty realising what she actually had in her field at Sutton Hoo, it’s the unknowns which draw you in. 

The nation’s forests are no different when it comes to the mystery and unknown of the historic environment. Hidden beneath our tree canopies are tens of thousands of sites and monuments, created by our ancestors over thousands of years. Humans have influenced and been influenced by landscapes over thousands of years and forests are no exception to this. Evidence of these interactions can be found across the nation’s forests as lasting reminders of how these areas were used, even before the trees arrived.

The nation’s forests boast nearly four percent of all nationally protected scheduled monuments found in England.

The ramparts at Bury Ditches Iron Age Hill Fort. The Marches.

A historic landscape of variety

Our historic sites vary from prehistoric caves and religious complexes to Roman industrial sites, Medieval settlements, castles and even Second World War defence infrastructure. With 750 scheduled sites located across the nation's forests, covering around 1000 hectares, Forestry England looks to preserve, protect and share the stories of these nationally important monuments. Additionally, we look after around 100 listed buildings and 30 Registered Parks and Gardens, all of which help to tell the story of how the land has been used and changed over time.

Our approach to looking after heritage

The historic environment is an integral part of Forestry England’s approach to the management of the nation’s forests. Following UK Forestry Standards guidance, as well as the Protocol for the Care of the Government Historic Estate, we look to ensure that these nationally significant sites and monuments survive for many more years to come, whilst also allowing us to achieve other important work around habitat restoration, recreation and general forestry activity. In addition to that previously mentioned, we also look to ensure we work appropriately around more than 50,000 non-designated heritage assets which can be found across our forests.

Dark Hill Iron Works - Forest of Dean

By ensuring our historic environment is preserved for years to come, we hope to allow visitors as well as future generations to learn about and explore our shared past.


The 3D model below shows the stone foundations of a two-celled rectangular long house found on the slopes of Ennerdale in the Lake District. A design unusual to medieval region, these structures were probably the homes of the iron miners working at Clewes Gill or those involved in the smelting operation down by the lake. You can visit this site on a self-guided walk of Ennerdale.

Keep exploring...

The motte and bailey at Castle Neroche in the Blackdown Hill
30 June 2021

Discover the hidden signs of historic landscapes you can find in the nation's forests

Large old tree with forest behind

Keep up to date with our historic environment and heritage team

View from Symonds Yat Rock in spring
07 September 2018

Explore our history and find out how we celebrated 100 years of forestry in 2019

Conifer forest with looking up at the canopy with younger tree and small log pile
03 March 2020

Find out how we look after the nation’s forests.