© Copyright Friends of Belper Parks, St Johns Chapel, The Butts, Belper, DE56 1HX, U.K. Site update 1st September 2008
Background aerial photograph courtesy of Amber Valley Borough Council
An aerial photograph taken in 1945 shows a distinctive oval shape within the larger "kidney" shape of the old deer park boundary. This oval is marked on the western edge by an ancient wall and hedge line. It is now thought that this oval may have been an early compartment within the park.
Themes - Woodland
Part of the Local Nature Reserve is covered by trees and some of these are in tracts of woodland that have existed for hundreds of years and possibly longer The existing woods contain many of the trees such as oak and holly that were traditionally associated with the ancient Belper Parks.
The ancient park would have contained woodland as cover for the breeding does and the holly provided winter food for the deer. By the sixteenth century trees were being grown for timber rather than as an adjunct to hunting although large oaks would have been cut down and used for building purposes much earlier.
The first record of the woodland in the park was made in 1540 and refereed to the fact that it was planted with birch trees. 20 years later a detailed survey was made of all the woodland in Duffield Frith and this recorded :
"Beaureper Park, containing one mile about, and there is next adjoining to Beaureper town 12 acres, very slenderly set with old birch, and some hazel of 50 years' growth, and 4 small dotard Oakes, also there is in the midst of the said Park one fair old oak with a large top for building timber, and it is called the Raven Oak. Also the rest of the said Park is overgrown with small thorns and briars for tynsell. Also there groweth in the Ring of the said Park 6 small Oakes for building timber, and 4 small dotard oaks for firewood." (A dotard oak is a decayed oak, only suitable for firewood and tynsell is small firewood suitable for ovens).
Themes - Ancient Earthworks