What an Ash copse can tell you

It’s GUEST TREE day at Binsted Oaks!

Let us introduce you to the Ash coppice stools, near Hundred House copse.

They’re close to the path of the ‘Magenta’ option of the A27 Arundel Bypass plans.

Here is their centuries-old story…

Hundred House copse is likely named for the meeting place of the ‘Binsted Hundred’, a medieval rural court.

You can see a mound on this LiDAR image (and in winter when the field is shorn)

It is above a steep sided valley (good for acoustics) – one of several clues the mound was a meeting place…

Several ancient tracks lead towards the domed hillock we call the ‘Moot Mound’ – another clue.

A hollow way leads from the west. Scotland Lane (a public footpath) is a medieval track that comes from Arundel and the east…

Meeting sites were often placed near ancient earthworks in the landscape – in the Moot Mound’s case, the Iron Age bank and ditch called War Dyke, which runs north-south through Binsted, under the church, through Hundred House copse.

(That the Mound is near several parish boundaries is another clue it was a meeting place)…

Such is the background to the setting of our Ash trees. The coppices edge the Moot Mound – peaceful now, but alive with activity going back a millennium.

Their diameter tells their age – they have been coppiced for centuries (some are 800-900 years old), to provide wood for fuel.

But fuel for what?…

The answer lies further down the hill, at a place once known as All The World.

Here, in the 1960s, a medieval tile kiln was rediscovered. (Another was later excavated in an adjacent field)

The clay used came from nearby pits (old pits can be found in Binsted Woods). The fuel likely came from our Ash trees…

So our trees tell of industry in this deceptively peaceful village, and of a community connected to the communities around it.

The A27 Bypass options would tear up All The World and its tile kiln. They could harm the Ash coppices too.

And this isn’t only a story of the past. Binsted’s trees stand for a living community under threat…

1000s visit the Strawberry Fair each year. Binsted Arts Festival celebrates the area’s cultural vitality. Annual gatherings like the Harvest Supper bring villagers together. Several businesses are based in Binsted. The church has been a community focus for 900 years.

This continuity with the past stands to be destroyed

(So does rare wildlife; ancient woodland corridors; peaceful public footpaths; neighbouring Tortington; Walberton; the beautiful Arundel watermeadows – all set to be sacrificed for a road that will worsen Sussex traffic)

Communities have come together to fight this pointlessly destructive road, meeting one another to respond to the threat, as people have been doing here for a thousand years or more.

Find out how to help here:

The Arundel Alternative

There is still time to object. The consultation ends 24th October.

And next time you see a coppiced tree, see if you can find out its story.

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