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Serving the communities of Bures St Mary and Bures Hamlet

Arger Fen, a thousand year old woodland.

Arger Fen is a small fragment of the wildwood that once covered Suffolk over a thousand years ago.

It`s a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is one of only two woods in Eastern England to have a large number of wild cherry trees.

There were several woods within the boundaries of Arger Fen.
In the north, "Carters Wood" covered the valley slopes, which were too steep to plough.

The map to the left indicates the public footpaths from Bures.

Link to Spouses Vale


footpath map

Arger Fen is split in two by an old earth bank which is the parish boundary. To the east was Wiston Prestney Grove, in the Middle ages this was used as arable and pasture land. After the Black death in 1348/9 the farmland was abandoned and regenerated to forest.

In Medieval times tenants collected firewood and workmen dug out clay in the woods. Remnants of these pits can still be seen. The clay was used to line the timber-framed houses of that period, timber was also felled for housing.
You will se plenty of these pits, ponds and dells as well as some evidence of a brick making facility.
The parish boundary between Assington and Bures runs through the centre of this wood.

In the 1960s, the Forestry Commission planted conifer trees, such as Corsican Pine.
Unfortunately, these killed off the natural undergrowth and left a dense layer of dry dead conifer matting. These are gradually being harvested and replaced with broad leafed trees. This is now allowing the wild plants to return.

Visit the wood on a July evening and you will most probably see Glow Worms. Throughout the summer, butterflies in large numbers are attracted by the wild flowers.
Arger Fen`s birdlife include the Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Woodcock. Other occasional visitors include the Grasshopper Warbler, Nightingale and Hawfinch.

Location:-Ordnance Survey map reference TL930353
Walks: 1 mile or circular walk 2 miles
Conditions: Woodland and field edge paths, pasture and road, 3 stiles
Access: This site is not suitable for wheelchair access.
Managed by:-
Suffolk Wildlife Trust
Car Parking: Gravel area beside roadway. Non secure area. Lock Cars.
How to get there:-

By Foot:-
By Road: Take the Nayland Rd out of Bures, into the open countryside.
Approximately 1.5miles out of the village you will arrive at a crossroads.

Signposted Right for Smallbridge Hall and Wormingford
Signposted Left for "Churchs Seed Store" and Arger Fen

Turn left, up a narrow winding road, past the Seed Store and then you will find a car park outside the wood on the right.


entrance notice board
Entrance to Wood
Notice Board


Butterflies can be seen along the main path on sunny summer days and a variety of birds and small mammals frequent the woods throughout the year.

Look out for the woodpeckers, wrens and goldcrests among the trees.

Ford across the access road, leading to Arger Fen

bluebells bluebells
Late Spring, the wood turns into a sea of colour as bluebells carpet the entire area. The scent is quite pronounced and the view magnificent.

wood wood

Follow the seasons by watching the changes in the wild cherry trees.
In the spring the trees are dusted with white blossom, with their leaves turning to red and yellow with the arrival of autumn. On a good year the trees are laden with berries which is ideal food for the birds.

wood wood
In drier parts of the wood there are hazel, ash and oak trees and elsewhere, wild cherry trees and some rarer small-leaved lime trees. At the bottom of the valley where the soil is wetter and marshy, wild garlic grows in the shade of willow and alder trees.

roman road map

Historical Information

The name Arger Fen has possibly two derivations:-
(a) "Arger or Agger" meaning earth rampart or bank, possibly roman, earthwork, a mound or raised work.
(b) "Arger" came from the Old English word for Hanging wood.

(c)"Fen" meaning boggy, wet, marshland.

Top left of the map, from Gt Waldingfield there is a roman road running south through Newton.
If you project this road (blue line) it runs directly through Arger Fen.

Project this line even further south into Essex and the road terminates at the roman earth works (Tumulus) at Lexden, Colchester.
Project this line northwards and it terminates at Bury St Edmunds.

Has this any bearing on the History of Arger Fen, I have no idea.
Perhaps it`s coincidence ?





Acknowledgement to Suffolk County Council, Countryside Service for the text.
Suffolk County Council Web site see:-
Photos by Alan Beales.
update 20/01/2019