In Medieval England, after the invasion of William the Conqueror, English kings understood the importance of preserving land that sustained animals they hunted for food. They also understood their lush forests were valuable holdings and used them to smooze other royals and privileged guests. During this Medieval period, a third of Southern England was appropriated as “Royal Forest.” In this land of superb hunting, the laws were different. I suppose it would be similar to living within the boundaries of one of America’s National Parks, where the rules are different, except in medieval England, breaking “forest laws” sometimes called for severe punishment. But… those who lived within the boundaries of a Royal Forest were not entirely excluded, as evidenced in this statement from the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1884, “and in the remaining royal forests of England the inhabitants of the neighboring villages yet claim their ancient right of “pannage,” turning their hogs into the woods in October and November.” The peasants were fattening their hogs on the acorns that covered the forest floor in the fall.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973