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The following page is an extract from a handy little guidebook of walks in the Forest of Dean, published in 1946. This extremely informative little book was the writer’s constant companion while exploring the Forest of Dean as a youngster.
 
Extract from A Week’s Holiday in the Forest of Dean by John Bellows (1946)

“The Scowles – Devil’s Chapel

From Lydney, a pleasant walk of 2 and a half miles will take us to one of the remarkable spots known as Devil’s Chapel; for there are others so named to which we shall refer hereafter. We take the road to Bream for 1 and ¾ miles, where it forks; and following the left branch for some distance, turn down a road at the end of the wood, still on our left.

Here are some of the vast hollows in the outcrop of the iron ore, left by the Romans, and known in the Forest as “Scowles”. In the one shown in our sketch, some trial workings were resumed in 1854; when the men employed came to a block of stone too heavy to move. The Engineer present ordered them to put a shot into it and split it up; and, in the meantime, a workman, driving his pick under the lower edge, pulled out some little round bits of metal. “Here be a lot o’ buttons “ said he; handing them up for inspection. They were not buttons, however, but silver coins of several Roman Emperors – “denarii” – the “penny” of the New Testament.

In the illustration given, one was among those thus found in the “Devil’s Chapel”. The first is a denarius of Nerva, and bears the abbreviated inscription which reads (translated) the Emperor Nerva, Caesar Augustus, Sovereign Pontiff, in the power of the Tribune, and Consul for the fifth time (i.e. in the year 98). Another of the coins was a denarius of Hadrian, and its inscription stood for Hadrianus Augustus, Consul III. The Father of his People.

He was Consul for the third time in 119. Two years after this (in 121) he came to this Island, to look into things for himself, reform abuses, and to put the garrisons under more rigid discipline. It was at this period he began building the Great Wall – 74 miles long and 35 feet high from the Tyne to the Solway, on which he stationed in permanence 15,000 men to keep back the Scots. As he afterwards marched on foot, like a private soldier, bare headed, over every province in the Roman world, looking into everything affecting the Roman Empire, it is pretty certain that during his stay in Britain he visited these Iron Mines, which were then of vast importance to the Romans.

The Romans worked Iron in the Forest of Dean to an enormous extent: the unexhausted “cinders” they left having been worked to profit down to within a few years ago; while as far back as the time of Edward I it is recorded that a material part of the revenue yielded by the Forest to that King, was derived from the re-smelting of Roman cinders.

On some of his coins Hadrian struck a figure emblematic of Britain, seated by the sea with a shield at her side, and a trident in her hand. This has been copied in later times. It is of bronze and is still in circulation in the Forest of Dean.

A large rock called ‘The Devil’s Pulpit’, is a prominent object in the middle of the workings. The view from the top is a wonderful panorama of rocks and foliage. The ascent is, however, somewhat difficult, and decidedly dangerous.

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