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The history of the forest may be divided into four broad periods:

Graphic Period Date Event


c. 3000BC Bronze Age settlers build Round Barrows
c. 500BC Iron Age hill forts built
c. 100CE Roman potteries in production
c. 500-1000 Anglo-Saxons settlers found all of the forest villages, with the exception of Beaulieu.
980 First mention of a Royal Manor in the area


1079 The traditional date on which New Forest created by William I. Actually we don't know the exact year, but it was certainly before 1086.
1100 As commemorated by the Rufus Stone, William II (Rufus) is killed while hunting in the forest.
1204 Cistercian abbey at Beaulieu founded.


1483? New Forest Act allows inclosures for growing timber.
1544 Post of Surveyor General for Crown Woods created.
1584 Pollarding of oaks made illegal.
1601 First recorded felling of 200 trees for the Royal Navy.
1673 Estimated 3000 trees a year being felled.
1698 New Forest Act outlaws coppicing attempts to restrict charcoal burning, but recognises the rights of the commoners
1776 Scots pine introduced at Ocknell and Bolderwood.
1851 Deer Removal Act. An attempt to destroy all deer in the forest. Deer population reduced from around 9,000 to about 200. Also introduces 'rolling powers of enclosure' and leads to increasing attempts to restrict commoners' rights.


1877 New Forest Act (sometimes known as the Commoners' Charter). Verderers' powers changed to protect commoners' interests. Right of Crown to enclose new areas reduced. Ancient and Ornamental woodlands protected.
1924 Forestry Commission takes over management of New Forest's Crown land from the Office of Crown Woods.
1939-1945 Ten airfields built in and around the forest including Beaulieu, Holmsley, Ibsley and Stoney Cross.
1949 New Forest Act reduces powers of the Verderers. 2,000 acres of 'Verderers' Inclosures are created.
1964 The 'adjoining commons' are brought within the forest bounds and under the control of the Verderers.
1971 New Forest declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
1979 The Queen plants the Queens Oak as part of the 900 years celebrations.
1992 Government agrees special status equivalent to a national park.
2005 On the 1st March the New Forest became England's first new national park for 15 years, with increased funding and a single overall authority.