The Forest of Dean is steeped in a rich history and an impressive part of this can be found beneath your feet. The area was once renowned for its Coal mining. And its iron mining. It’s one of the main reasons the Romans invaded and convinced the locals to live like members of the Empire for a small tribute of course, namely the iron. Iron makes weapons, but it was the need for the industrial that drove the real spike in mining activity many centuries later. Coal was used for many years as a way to heat our homes and our food and it wasn’t until the use of gas and electric that we saw more sophisticated heating systems such as the ones that a Cheltenham Boiler Service company such as will look at each day.

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The Forest of Dean has been a resource that the country has plundered and used since those Roman times. The iron ore so abundant, and still abundant in the region was then taken up by the Norman settlers and the Dean Ore was a vital part of the pre-medieval post Dark age economy. There was the opportunity for the local people to greatly benefit from this resource and they truly did. The skills needed to win the ore were highly valued by the ruling elite and they were prepared to reward the miners who did it.

It was not just the ability to reap the rewards from the coal and iron. The skills of the miner were needed in the conflicts of the time as well. The free miner’s skills were employed to help lift the siege of Berwick on Tweed and regain the town from the Scots. It was this action that gave the miners the reward from Edward the first of the gift of free mining. They were to see further military action helping Henry the Fifths campaign in France starting the Hundred years war. The walled towns of France, like Honfleur the scene of “once more unto the breach”, posed an enormous problem as the King was unable and unwilling to sacrifice levels or siege equipment in the taking of such sites. Therefore, the free miner and their skills were employed as Sappers. They would dig down underneath the foundations of the wall and find the weak points to make it collapse using rudimentary explosives or just gravity to pull on the unsupported stone. Their service at Agincourt meant that the King reaffirmed this commitment to them via a letter sent form the battle field.

The free miners continued their trade unhindered and working for themselves as they had always done until the beginnings of the industrial revolution. Big business and corporations eyed the resources and looked for a way to export them. The royal commission set up to protect the miners established without doubt the criteria. You must be a male born within and live within the Hundred of St Briavel. Anyone outside of that can’t do it.