Frequently referred to as ‘enchanting’ and ‘magical’ it is of no surprise that the Forest of Dean has come to inspire some of history’s greatest authors.
Speculation on the uncanny similarity between the Forest and settings in Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings are open to interpretation but you only need to experience it for yourself to feel that you have been transported to the infamous tales.
At the age of 9, J K Rowling moved to Tutshill (just on the edge of the Forest) and spent the next 9 years growing up amongst thought provoking landscapes. Rowling has regaled stories to the online public of her and her sister ‘wandering unsupervised across the fields and along the river Wye’. With so many exhilarating and spellbinding scenes of the Harry Potter series set in the ‘Forbidden Forest’, it is easy to make assumptions over where Rowling got some of her ideas for settings from.
JRR Tolkien’s descriptions of ‘Middle Earth’ are another example of Forest of Deanesque sceneries having been painted on to the silver screen in recent years. Whilst working on an ancient Roman archaeological site in Lydney Park in 1929, it has been rumoured that his research into the battles that once commenced there inspired his writing of the Hobbit. Puzzlewood is just one of the many areas of the Forest of Dean that can be seen to mimic the forestry of ‘Middle Earth’.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English poet and co-founder of the Romantic Movement is also said to have been a frequent visitor to the Forest. On one particular visit to Chepstow with Joseph Cottle, they dined in the Beauchamp Hotel and allegedly had a disagreement about their plan to found a Panistocratic community in America. They set out into the night to find lodgings for the evening and eventually one settled themselves into the ‘Blacksmith’s Smithy’ because he couldn’t bare the company of the other.
The Ross-on-Wye was another area of the Forest frequented by Coleridge which later led him to write a poem about The Man of Ross. He has also been said to have scratched his name on to the window of the Kings Head Inn – with rooms at only £60 a night, why not take a trip there yourself and see what your visit could inspire in you?