' THE FREE MINERS
You may walk all day in the forest without meeting a miner or seeing a mine, but hundreds of feet below the forest floor, it may be three miles from the pit-head, the miner is at work. If you should happen to meet him later, he will point out to you the part of the forest under which he works, and the forester's subterranean sense of direction is one of the most remarkable features of his trade.
The miner has always been the most important man in the forest, and the Dean miner the aristocrat of his profession. Nothing is known of the conditions under which he worked two thousand years ago, but I suspect that even under Rome he mined the iron measures as a free man. His most extensive workings arc to be seen along the western edge of the forest, most noticeably between Lyclney Park and Bream, in the Scowles, near Coleford, and again in the north-eastern corner of the forest on Wigpool. It is significant that the most prominent feature of the small Roman settlement on the southernmost tip of the iron measure is the Roman temple erected, not to a Latin god, but to Nodens, the river god of the Silurcs. Apart from this there is little sign of Roman interference with the forest, other than the paved road that ran from Newerne (Lydney) to Mitcheldean, whose all-weather causeway, for the transport of mineral, is still to be found in the forest. This is one of the few original surfaces of Roman road north of the Appian Way, but, unfortunately, though part of it remains, some has recently lost its identity under a coat of tar and pebbles to the north of Blackpool Bridge. This road passes the \estiges of a camp in the; village of Soudley, overlooking the pond. .The only other Roman remains in the forest are coins, indicating that the Silurian miners probably received pay for their labours. Nowhere else in England will you hear the Romans spoken iof with pride, interest, and even affectionm as in the Forest of Dean.... '
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