St Briavels

The Freeminers

It wasn’t just the famous longbowmen who played a decisive role in the Battle. Miners were a key component in Henry V’s forces, using their underground expertise to weaken and undermine enemy fortifications. The Forest of Dean was a well-known place from which to recruit these miners, thanks to a fascinating history of iron and coal mining that stretches back to prehistoric and Roman times. To this day, the Forest’s Freeminers hold special prospecting rights, reportedly as a result of their service in battle during the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries.

St Briavels Hundred

The men who travelled to France were drawn from across the administrative area known as the St Briavels Hundred, which includes the parishes of Coleford, Newland, Staunton, English Bicknor, Hewelsfield, St Briavels, Ruardean, Mitcheldean, Abenhall, Flaxley, Littledean and the East and West Dean. The font at St Michael’s Church in Abenhall, near Mitcheldean, which dates from the middle of the 15th century, is carved with the symbols of local miners and blacksmiths. According to local legend, the font was presented to the church by miners in 1450 to commemorate their involvement in the French wars, including the Battle of Agincourt.

Sir John Greyndour

A significant local landowner in the Forest of Dean, Sir John was closely associated with the local Freeminers who travelled to France as part of the war effort. He had a long military career before Agincourt, notably in the wars against Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr in battles at Shrewsbury, Grosmont and Pwll Melyn in the early 1400s. The indenture signed by Sir John in 1415 supplied Henry V’s forces with a company of 30 archers and 120 miners, believed to be from the Forest of Dean.