A wood which looks like a bird leads to an airfield and a reservoir

Old maps juxtaposed with new maps can unpeel the history of a place and show how the landscape has adapted to changing times. Ancient fields give way to an RAF airfield of World War II; nearby, more fields disappear under a reservoir. But first, a wood which appears to resemble a bird.

There are some things you see fly by on Twitter which just have to be followed up. This tweet caught my eye yesterday, posted by @StamfordLiving1 and RT’d by @LordBonkers.

A quick search for Ketton on the Ordnance Survey map (Bing has all these btw) shows that there is indeed a wood shaped like a bird just west of the village. Is this some carefully planted joke? That is not verifiable, but it is possible to see if it has been around for a while.

One of the best resources on the internet is the National Library of Scotland Map Archive. That not only allows you to look at old maps, but lets you see them side by side with modern ones. On the 1892-1905 map our bird-like wood is here:

It has been there since well before the turn of the 19th/20th centuries to be that mature. A map of 1889-1913 shows the “bill” with the name “Football Piece”.

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Once there, of course, you have to look around. Just west of the wood is a former RAF airfield, RAF North Luffenham. The side-by-side map shows what (little) there was before:

Here it is on 2 March 1944 (picture from Wikipedia)

The runways and hardstands are packed with aircraft – this was a time of heavy raids on Stuttgart and Cologne among other targets. The outlines of ancient fields are clearly visible around the parking lots of 20th century flying machines.

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Yet further west and to the north lies what is now Rutland Water:

The side-by-side map lets you trace the outline of the reservoirs (flooded in 1976) around the fields and woods which lay there before.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
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