The land of oak and iron is the place where I grew up and the place where my heart is – wherever I am.
The High Weald stretches from Horsham in the west through Tunbridge Wells down to Burwash, Battle and the coast around Hastings. The name Weald is from the Saxon word for forest or wooded hill. The iron industry started here during Roman times. Ten centuries ago the woods of the Weald were still so dense that the South Saxons were confined to settlements in clearings; the hursts which give so many of the villages their names.
This was where the oak for the ships that turned the Armada was felled and where the iron was smelted and the cannon cast that scattered the French and Spanish at Trafalgar.
This is a landscape that inspired Rudyard Kipling and A.A.Milne, Hilaire Belloc and William Cobbett. In its hollow places, as the trees close in, you could be a world away from anywhere and one breath from the creatures of myth and our imagination.
My name is Jonathan Kent. I am a writer, a broadcaster, a journalist, a traveller and a countryman. My series ‘Our Daily Bread’ runs on BBC Radio 4 from May 21-25 2012 at 1.45 pm.
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