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The Forest of Dean by H. G. Nicholls

Pasturage was granted to the men of Rodley


Judging from the architectural character of the remains of St. Briavel's Castle, the whole of which seem to belong to the middle of the thirteenth century, and closely to resemble in several features the neighbouring castles of Chepstow and Goodrich, viz. in their entrances, angular-headed arches, and three-cornered buttresses, the present building was probably erected by John de Monmouth, at the cost of the Crown, paid out of the increasing receipts which now accrued to it from the charges levied upon the iron mines and forges at work in the district. The latter, being itinerant forges, were ordered to cease until the King, Henry III., should command otherwise, which appears to have led to the Chief Justice in Eyre directing that none should have an iron-forge in the Forest without a special licence from the Sovereign.

[Picture: Entrance to St. Briavel's Castle from the North]

By royal permission the Abbot of Flaxley possessed both an itinerant and a stationary forge; one of the former kind also belonged to the men of Cantelupe. Henry Earl of Warwick had likewise forges in his woods at Lydney, as well as others in the Forest, and these formed no doubt but a small part of the whole number. The dimensions of these forges may be judged of by the two at Flaxley consuming more than two oaks weekly, to the destruction of much timber, in lieu of which the King gave the Abbey 872 acres of woodland, which still forms part of the property at the present day, under the name of "the Abbot's Woods."

During the long reign of Henry III. pasturage was granted to the men of Rodley, who also in common with the King's people might hunt the boar. Commonage was likewise given to the Abbot of Flaxley. The bailiwick of Dean Magna was granted to Walter Wither. The men of Awre were allowed, by custom, pasturage in the Forest; those of Rodley, estover, dead and dry wood, with pannage and food for cattle as well.

The earliest of the various perambulations of the Forest, in the ensuing reign of Edward I., was in the year 1282, and comprised the peninsula formed by the Severn and Wye, proceeding north-east as far as Newent, and north to Ross, as in fact it had always done. It may be also observed that about this period the Abbot of Gloucester purchased thirty-six acres of land in Hope Maloysell, held by Gilbert and Julian Lepiatte, receiving also Thomas Dunn's gift of all his lands in the same parish. The most ancient of the justice seats for these parts sat the same year at Gloucester Castle. By its proceedings, some of the records of which happily still exist, we learn that upwards of seventy-two "_Forgeae errantes_," or moveable forges, were found here; that the sum which the Crown charged for licensing them was at the rate of seven shillings a year, viz. three shillings and six pence for six months, or one shilling and nine pence a quarter; that a miner received one penny, or the worth of it in ore, for each load brought to any of the King's ironworks; but if conveyed out of the Forest the penny was paid to the Crown; and that in those cases where a forge was farmed, forty-six shillings was charged. {12} No less than fifty-nine mines were let at this time to Henry de Chaworth, who had besides forges at work in the Forest.

A careful examination of the oldest copy extant of 'The Miners' Laws and Privileges,' regarded,


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