The Fingerprint of Man

The marks of different peoples throughout history each form a layer of the landscape that we see today…

…and tell the story of how local people were intimately tied with an ancient wooded landscape, using it for fuel and as a versatile building material.

Prehistoric hand axes from around 500,000 BC were first discovered at Bubbenhall meadow in 1984 – used by our ancient ancestor, Heidelberg Man, to butcher animals such as the straight tusked elephant, the limb bone and tooth of which were also found nearby.

The Romans cut the Fosse Way through the countryside close to the Roman Lunt Cavalry Fort at Baginton.

This was the supply road at the Roman frontier.

The Norman motte and Bailey castle at Brinklow was built over the Roman Fosse Way to control trade routes during William the Conqueror’s campaigns in 1069.

Woodland continued to be cleared and managed as coppice in medieval times for growing crops and grazing livestock.

Villagers relied on woodland for fuel and to make everything from fencing to furniture.

Cistercian monastic houses were built at Coombe Abbey and Stoneleigh Abbey in 12th Century.

Both were converted into family homes following the dissolution of the monasteries, with Repton styling the landscape at Stoneleigh Abbey and Capability Brown at Coombe Abbey.

Cruck framed timber built houses in Stoneleigh and other villages built from local wood in the 16th and 17th Century.

The review of troops bound for Gallipoli during World War 1 by King George V in 1915 is marked by the Gallipoli war memorial on the A45.

The road on which the troops gathered was tree lined. This avenue was felled and replanted as a living memorial in 1920s. Sections of the avenue are still recognisable today.

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Coal mining transformed the small village of Binley in the 1900s, but the colliery closed in the 1960s.

Part of the old mine is now an important wildlife site known as Claybrookes Marsh, named in honour of Jack Clay and James Brookes who were killed when the roof of the mine collapsed in 1947.

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There are traces of the allied defence effort in WWII in the form of gun emplacements, air raid shelters and battle headquarters and the enemy bombardment which left bomb craters.

Baginton aerodrome, now Coventry Airport, was a fighter base and aircraft production centre.

Armoured tanks were assembled in a factory close to Bagot’s Castle, and part of the castle grounds was used for testing tanks.