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Hadriens monument

Historic Environment and Culture

We work with community groups, societies and local people to:

Conserve the Chase’s historic environment.

Connect communities with the Chase’s history and culture.

Humans have been shaping Cannock Chase for thousands of years, and evidence of our past activities can be seen everywhere. There are over 600 heritage assets in the National Landscape (AONB), including prehistoric remains at Castle Ring (the largest Iron Age hillfort in Staffordshire) and medieval manors and parkland, including the Shugborough Estate (a Grade I Registered Park and Garden).

The heart of the National Landscape is a 1000 year old hunting forest: Cannock Chase, together with Cank Forest, formed part of a Royal Forest in Norman times and was used for hunting until the early post-medieval period. The Royal Forest was a game preserve containing areas of both woodland and heath, although by the 17th century much of the woodland had been lost.

Cannock Chase has a wealth of industrial remains, with evidence of glassmaking, ironworking, coal mining and quarrying. Coal mining in the AONB was particularly extensive, with the earliest recordings of mining dating to the 13th century and covering a period of 700 years.

The area was used extensively by the military after the grazing and woodland clearance of the 18th and 19th centuries, creating an area suitable for training. During WWI the AONB included one of the largest military training camps in England. Other military features within the National Landscape include the Commonwealth Cemetery and the German Military Cemetery.

Whilst there is a feeling that this history has been somewhat overlooked, recent technological advancements have revealed the sheer extent of the heritage assets that exist on the Chase extending into surrounding communities. There is also, more widely, a renewed recognition of the important role that history and culture have in providing communities with their sense of place, memory and knowledge and fostering cultural traditions, providing important means to engage local communities and contribute to meeting their educational and social needs.

We work with community groups, societies and local people to:

The Chase Through Time volunteer group has been busy locating and recording the apple trees on the Chase, shedding light on why we have so many, what they were used for, and how old they are. As most are found in and around the two former Great War training camps, they were probably planted by trainee soldiers near their barrack huts. Others may have self-set in the area around the kitchen or latrine blocks or germinated where the core was dropped after the apple was eaten.

Over 90 fruit trees have been identified, recorded and checked against the National Fruit Collection apple database.

A number of apples have been sent to specialists for possible identification, whilst others, which seem to be from trees which pre-date the camps, have been sent for DNA analysis to check if they are a rare variety or perhaps a special Cannock Chase cultivar. The completion of the project will be celebrated by planting some apple trees near the Great War Hut at Marquis Drive.

Chase Through Time II

Between 2016 and 2018, The Chase Through Time project explored the rich history of Cannock Chase National Landscape (AONB), using volunteers and archaeological investigations.

In 2020 we will be looking to set up a follow-up project to assess the data generated from this phase. This will celebrate the area’s cultural heritage with local communities and involve them in historic environment citizen science activities.

Great War Hut

Our Great War Hut volunteers continue to provide access and a warm welcome to everyone visiting the Great War Hut and to share information about Cannock Chase during the First World War.

This barrack hut was originally situated at one of two vast military training camps built on Cannock Chase during the Great War. It has been carefully restored and is now used as an interpretation and education centre, re-creating the life of soldiers from the time.

Condition assessments for scheduled monuments

Discussions are underway with Historic England and Staffordshire County Council’s Historic Environment Team to develop a strategy to assess the condition of the seven scheduled monuments located within Cannock Chase National Landscape.

This will involve training volunteers on how to locate and assess the condition of these nationally important heritage assets. The volunteers will then put this training into practice, providing Historic England with up-to-date information on the condition of these monuments and enable them to provide targeted advice and support to landowners and other stakeholders.

Condition assessments for non-designated heritage assets

There are over 600 non-designated heritage assets on Cannock Chase. These include buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas and landscapes relating to historic coal mining and other historic industrial activity across the area, as well as the remains of two Great War training camps and features. Many of these were identified by the successful Chase Through Time Project.

As part of that project’s legacy we are keen to improve our understanding of the significance and condition of these assets. Staffordshire County Council’s Historic Environment Team and the National Trust will be training volunteers how to locate, identify, assess and record the condition of these features in the field. This information will assist landowners and stakeholders to make informed decisions on managing this important and extensive archaeological resource.