As part of the project Hywel Lewis, Postdoctoral Research Student from the University of Bradford’s School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences has undertaken a number of traditional ‘earth-burns‘ as part of his research into the charcoal industry of the South Pennines. The video above illustrates one of his burns undertaken in North Dean Woods near Halifax.
Charcoal was and still is an important resource for households nad industry, providing materials for cooking, craft but also the fuel for the iron and steel industries. As such the production of charcoal boomed during the 18th and 19th centuries, until the canal and rail networks opened up the market for coke. Many of the woodlands across the South Pennines continue to preserve evidence for the charcoal industry in the form of charcoal burning platforms.
Woodlands were not only places for the production of charcoal. Timber and wood has and continues to play an important role in all manner of craft, construction, agricultural and industrial purposes. Throughout history people would have worked woodlands for all or any of the following:
This is not an exhaustive list however, activities might also include, white coal production, clog making, bodging (for example making legs for chairs), oak bark peeling for tanning merchants, potash production and basketry. Woodlands have and continue to play an important role in human history and society.