Older than the Domesday Book
The West Cambridgeshire Hundreds are a collection of wildlife rich ancient woodlands in an area defined for over 1000 years by the old Anglo-Saxon regional divisions known as the Cambridgeshire Hundreds. Historical records show that some woods like Hayley Wood are older than the Domesday book and may go back much earlier. Our vision for this area is a landscape of connected woodlands where wildlife can move freely between.
The West Cambridgeshire Hundreds are a cluster of ancient woodlands situated on heavy boulder clay soils – perfect territory for woodland wildflowers like bluebells, oxlips and primroses. A 'hundred' is an old regional division used by the Anglo-Saxons. It's thought the word 'hundred' came from an area of land that could supply 100 men at arms in times of war. The old county of Cambridgeshire was still divided into hundreds until the nineteenth century, although it's military origin had long since fallen into disuse.
Ancient woodlands are one of Britain's best habitats for wildlife. Ecosystems have had a long time to develop, linking everything from the trees themselves to the wildflowers and the fungi at the roots and in the soil. This ‘mycorrhizal’ fungi connects wild plants and trees in a vast 'wood wide web', which they use to communicate and share nutrients. Wild animals thrive in this environment, all kinds of invertebrates zip through the air, birdsong rings in the trees and deer and badger move quietly through the shadows.
Project work will include reinstating traditional coppicing and widening paths providing more light for ground level species like wildflowers, invertebrates and the larger animals they support. The project partners are also working together to connect these special woodlands using wildlife corridors like hedgerows, tree belts and flower-rich field margins. By connecting them together we're creating a Living Landscape that allows wildlife to move freely from wild place to wild place.
This is a joint project between the Wildlife Trust, local landowners, The Woodland Trust, the National Trust, the Forestry Commission, Natural England, Woodfuel East and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group. The support and enthusiasm of landowners is essential to the success of our work.
Find out more about the West Cambridgeshire Hundreds
Check out the website for Warseley Wood run by our dedicated Warden @GrahamMoorby.
Scheme area: 20,000 Ha