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New Freemine

A new mine is being opened near Little Drybrook.

The Forest of Dean has a unique Freemining tradition. Custom has it that the right to freemine was given to Forest miners by Edward 1 for services given during his Scottish campaigns. This was probably confirming a right they already held as early as 1244.

To be a registered freeminer today a miner has to be over 21, born and live within the Hundred of St Briavels, and to have worked for a year and a day in a Forest mine.

This new mine is not far from the one that used to be at China Bottom on the Bream Heritage Walk near way mark No14. It will mine the same coal seams, and keep alive the ancient mining traditions of the Forest.

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Foxgloves

The bluebells have now gone, but there are still good floral displays to be seen. The foxgloves are out, and between way marks 26 and 27 make quite a display.

We don’t know why the foxglove got its name but its from the Old English foxes glofa. In the past children turned the flowers into their own dolls, finger puppets and pretend claws.

Although the foxglove is very poisonous, it was once widely used in folk medicine. When William Withering investigated the plant in the eighteenth century it was a turning point. He realised it was a good remedy for heart failure when used in precise quantities, and this led to the beginnings of modern prescription pharmacology. We now know the plant contains the heart drug digitalis which today is mostly prepared from imported foxglove leaves.

A foxglove in Parkhill Inclosure