Wistman’s Wood is one of three remaining high-altitude oakwoods on Dartmoor in the county of Devon, England. At an altitude of roughly 400 metres, this is one of the highest oakwoods in the Blessed Isles and is likely a remnant of the ancient forest that covered the majority of Dartmoor, if not the majority of the island of Great Britain, several thousands of years ago before the Mesolithic hunter/gatherers began the clearances that shaped the landscape we see today.
The oldest oaks appear to be up to five centuries old and have a small, wizened form from their youth during a cold phase of the climate. The younger generations, however, have grown gradually straighter and taller – and this was one of the first signs of climate change identified in the ecology of the Blessed Isles. While there have been gradual changes to shape and size, the changes associated with the 20th Century were dramatic enough to start a number of climate change studies by both the organisations that became Unnatural Resources and their counterparts for resources in our reality.
The name, Wistman’s Wood, derives from the local word “wisht”, which means “eery” or “uncanny” and is often associated with fairy lore and the Otherworld. Despite this, the woods themselves haven’t been connected to the Otherworld since at least 1843, when the local Wardens first recorded it as being in our reality only.
Local tradition has it that the woodlands were planted by Isabella de Forz, who was connected with Continental Melusine traditions, in the 13th Century.
The place may also be the origin of the rare surname Wistman, said to be a family of Two Bridge who were descended from or connected to Isabella. There have been a number of Rangers and Wardens of that surname from the area and many were said to have had second sight.