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Forest Research home > Research > Woodlands & the environment > Historic environment > Managing archaeology in woodland

Public access to archaeological sites

A cleared monument incorporated into an archaeological trailIt is Forestry Commission policy to increase public access to its woodlands and recreation, tourism, health and well-being are considered of greater importance today than they have been in the past. Some Forest Districts are now utilising their cultural assets and creating heritage walks with information signs that incorporate features of interest. Such trails attract more visitors to the woodland and thus provide both health and educational benefits.

However, careful management is needed when promoting access to heritage sites and features. Careful consideration regarding heritage conservation is required to determine the likely visitor impacts.

Erosion scar on a barrow due to high visitor pressureWhere visitor numbers are likely to be high, suitable paths may need to be created to either keep the public away from the most sensitive areas or to protect the monument beneath thus providing some form of erosion control. In extreme cases, vandalism may occur. For example, on Dartmoor there have been incidences where many smaller stones from monuments have been moved by the public.

The lighting of fires is also very common inside burial mounds and henge monuments, and in many cleared forest areas, fly-tipping is a possibility.