A MAP dating from the 1600s will be used to create new native woodlands near Hadrian’s Wall.
The Forestry Commission has pledged £94,000 from the English Woodland Grant Scheme for an ambitious project which will boost wildlife and improve river water quality at Naworth Castle, near Brampton in Cumbria.
Eight new woods covering 50 acres will be planted, expanding existing mature woodlands.
Forest chiefs have allocated the top rate of grant for the venture as it will help improve water quality in Carling Gill and the River Irthing, which both flow through the estate.
Formerly a stronghold of the Lord Wardens of the Marches and home of the Dacre and Howard families, 14th century Naworth Castle is 12 miles north east of Carlisle.
In more recent times, it has once again become home to the Howard family, Philip and Elizabeth.
The castle is a venue for corporate days and conferences, and Philip Howard has transformed the 2,000 acre estate to act as a setting for car launches, country pursuits, film locations, historic tours and weddings.
Using the 400-year-old map from the family archives, he plans to recreate a formal woodland known as Lord William’s Wood and the Long Walk.
Mr Howard said: “This part of the scheme chimes with my passion for trees and history. The ink drawn map reveals how the grounds were laid out in 1600 and it shows a woodland leading from the castle.
“We consulted English Heritage, as we have many important historic features on the estate and the castle itself is a Grade I listed building.
“The map was proof that a formal woodland was part of the 17th century landscape.
“Over the past four years, we have planted about 120 acres of new trees on the estate as part of a major push to revive our woods.
“The new planting will provide habitats for wildlife and ensure a sustainable supply of hardwood and softwood timber in the future.
“We already supply the firewood market, which has grown rapidly over recent years, and I am pretty certain timber will become an even more important resource.”
New planting on the estate will include oak, rowan and cherry and will steer clear of historic features,.
They include four scheduled ancient monuments, such as the ruins of a bastle, which is a fortified medieval farmhouse dating to the time of the Reivers.
The estate also includes part of Hadrian’s Wall.
Jim O’Neill, Forestry Commission woodland officer, said: “Trees deliver so many benefits, both environmental and economic.
“And at Naworth Castle we can add reinstating a historic feature to the list.”