High Weald Maps

The High Weald is a historical countryside of rolling hills draped by small, irregular fields, abundant woods and hedges, scattered farmsteads and sunken lanes.

The term 'Weald' is given to the area between the North and South Downs which are the outer chalk rims of the ancient Wealden anticline.  The sandstones and clays of the exposed centre of the dome, the 'High Weald' give rise to a hilly, broken and remote country of ridges and valleys. In contrast, open areas of the AONB include Ashdown Forest and, to the east, the river valleys of the Rother, Brede and Tillingham. The AONB meets the coast at Hastings.   

The word 'Weald' means wilderness or forest: the High Weald was once an untamed, wooded area, with patches of wild grassland and heathland.  By Domesday (1086) the High Weald remained the most densely wooded area of England and now boasts the highest proportion of ancient woodland in the country.

Detailed analysis by the High Weald AONB unit has defined the High Weald AONB as characterised by dispersed settlement; ancient routeways; small ancient woods, gills and shaws; and small, irregularly shaped and productive fields.  These are all draped over a deeply incised and ridged landform and are closely related to socio-economic characteristics that have roots extending deep into history.  The essential character of the High Weald was established by the 14th century and has survived major historical events, and social and technological changes.  This fundamental and largely unchanging character is the essence of the "natural beauty" of the AONB. 

The dispersed historic settlements of farmsteads, hamlets and late medieval villages are characterised by distinctive brick, tile and white weatherboard houses, and oasthouses.  There are still traces of the ancient Wealden iron industry including traditional hammer ponds.

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