> History - Pre Roman
The earliest known occupation of the Forest area by Man is indicated by a stone hand axe found near Gills Lap. This is considered to be from the last inter-glacial period and is about 50,000 years old.

Sufficient flint artefacts have been found to suggest that all parts of the Forest came, at some time, within a ‘site catchment’ area. The people leaving these signs may have been there as either nomads, moving in search of food, seasonal occupiers taking advantage of warm summer weather to expand their hunting territories or permanent settlers (some 10,000 years before present). Flints do not naturally occur on the Forest; most flint flakes (produced as waste as new tools are made) or discarded tools are found just below high ridges where there are long views for watching grazing stock, wild animals or the approach of an enemy (provided the area is not heavily wooded; could there have been heathland vegetation at this time?).

Elaboration of hunting techniques and prolonged hunting periods led to Neolithic occupation (from around 6,000 years before present) and associated artefacts. Local clearance around settlements would have taken place on the infertile sandy soils, while the heavy clay soils supporting thick woodland would have been used as an intermittent resource.

Evidence of Forest use occurs for the earliest part of this period only. The tumulus near Four Counties car park may be from this period and a bronze age axe (palstave) has been found.

Occupation known from four sites - King's Standing, Gills Lap, Garden Hill and Chelwood Gate. Garden Hill (private land) appears to have been intermittently occupied in the Neolithic/Bronze Age, the Iron Age and then by Romans. The site at Chelwood Gate , known as Danes Graves, shows evidence of late Iron Age, pre-Roman iron working.
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Roman to 1300 >