The defining characteristic of the Rockingham Forest landscape from the early Anglo-Saxon period, following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the early 5th century, until the 19th century has been the woodland. This survived to a greater or lesser degree on the boulder clay and limestone plateau between the rivers Welland and Nene, one of three great tracts of Anglo-Saxon woodland in Northamptonshire.
The story of the Forest is to a large extent the story of the progressive removal of the woodland. By the 1880s, after more than a thousand years of decline, it had been fragmented to a tiny remnant of its former glory. The Forest had in effect been destroyed. The pattern of the landscape we see to day was determined by the dramatic changes over this thousand year period. But there were many influences, not just woodland clearance. There was the planning of our villages, the laying out of vast tracts of arable fields and then much later their enclosure, and the foundation of our towns. Then over the last two centuries or more we have seen great new chapter in the evolution of the landscape, under the impact of industrialisation.