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24 September 2014

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Moonraking: The Landscape
Milestone at Savernake Forest Savernake Forest

• Thoughts and Theories
Add Your View
• How to find it
Milestone at Savernake Forest
• Savernake Forest , Marlborough

Savernake is a surviving remnant of one of Wiltshire's ancient 'Royal Forests' much beloved by Norman kings. Today the forest is leased to the Forestry Commission and access is via many paths and tracks. It remains a place of mystery and imagination and an important habitat for a number of wild birds, plants and animals.

• Thoughts and Theories

Big Belly OakSavernake is the only area of ancient forest not owned by the Crown and its historical roots run as deep as some of the many ancient trees that survive in the forest today.

Savernake is famous for the Big Belly Oak, a 1000 year old oak tree close to the A345 on the western edge of the forest. Legend has it that the devil can be summoned by anyone dancing naked round the tree.

Track in SavernakeIt is probable that Sir John Seymour, the forest's Tudor steward would have known this old tree - and it is said that it was in Savernake that Henry VIII met Seymour's daughter, Jane.

Many of the younger oaks, together with the broad avenues of beech trees were established by the great C18th landscaper 'Capability' Brown.

When King George III recovered from his illness, the First Earl of Ailesbury, Thomas Bruce, built the column that can be found in the south-east corner of Savernake Forest.

After marrying Susanna Hoare, the daughter of Henry Hoare (who had laid out the gardens at Stourhead) the Earl took the advice of his father-in-law and engaged the great C18th landscaper 'Capability' Brown.

One of Brown's features is The Grand Avenue, which is five km (three miles) long - at the centre of which, Eight Walks radiate out into the surrounding forest.

Amongst the many stories associated with Savernake, many concern ghostly apparitions, often seen at dusk darting in and out of the shadows.

One tale, recalled by the ghost hunter Peter Underwood, talks of a headless woman who rides a white horse along one of the avenues of trees.

According to Peter: "She is said to be the ghost of a girl who was decapitated when her horse bolted through the trees that then grew everywhere, during a long ago royal hunting party."

SavernakeThose who live within Savernake, in places like Cadley or Great Bedwyn, talk of ghostly goings-on, with tales of eerie sounds coming from deep within the blackness of the forest as well as suggestions of witches covens and other 'dark' practices.

With its variety of flora and fauna, Savernake is recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

• Multimedia

Click here for The Moonraking Gallery

• Add Your View



Pip Blackburn
I am studying Savernake for a university project. Having lived just north of Marlborough, for part of my life, I still feel I don't know much at all about Savernake and yet, I'm now learning so much.

allison mcalpine
my great grand parents are buried in the old church at Cadley and they and my grandmother and her sister lived just opposite the church.

Dave C
Libby Gilbert is quite correct - it is the big BELLIED oak not big belly. I grew up in Savernake Forest (The Bungalow at Savernake Lodge) and could tell a lot about the forest.

K. Seymour
Savernake Forest is part of my ancestral home and I hope to visit soon. Seeing it here is a joy. Thank you.

I love walking through Savernake during the autumn when all the leaves have a glorious red/ orange and yellow hues. Especially kicking up the leaves with the dog chasing them all!

Libby Gilbert
It's the big BELLIED oak, not the Big Belly Oak!

Sounds interesting, but I resent the use of Witccraft being called a "dark" practice. We're not in Salem people!

My Grandparents lived at Luton lye cottages, my uncle still lives there. I and my sisters spent many a day exploring the forest as children lovely place .

It's a fantastic forest to get lost in as a child, and an adult. Many wonderful nooks and crannies to sit and escape everything. A truly magical place to be.

that is amazing. I think that there should be a map of wiltshire telling us what features there are


• How to find it

South of Marlborough, bordered by Great Bedwyn in the south, the A4 in the north and the A345 in the west.

• Ordnance Survey: SU250650
Click here to see Multimap location*

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Savernake Forest

Savernake Estate

Forestry Commission: Savernake

Mysterious Wiltshire: Savernake

Walkweb: Savernake Forest

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