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Bartholomew the Englishman's thirteenth-century account of woodland in his encyclopaedic work, 'On the properties of things', ch. cxliii:

Monk and novice felling a tree, from the Moralia in Job
© Bibliotheque Municipale de Dijon
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Monk and novice felling a tree, from the Moralia in Job

Woods are wild places, waste and desolate, that many trees grow in without fruit, and also few having fruit. In these woods there are often wild beasts and fowl; herbs, grass, leas and pastures grow here and medicinal herbs are found in woods. In summer woods are beautied with boughs and branches, with herbs and grass. But woods are also places of deceit and hunting, for wild beasts are hunted here, and watches and deceits are ordained and set of hounds and hunters. They are also places of hiding and lurking, for often thieves hide here and lay wait for men to pass, whom they rob and often kill. And so for many various ways strangers often take a wrong turn and find themselves on the wrong path, and come to places where thieves hide out, and not without peril. Therefore knots are often made on trees and bushes, in boughs and in branches of trees, in token and mark of the highway, to show the certain and sure way to travellers; but thieves often turn and change these knots to mislead them, and lead them off the right path by false tokens and signs.

[Cited in Medieval Lore, ed. R. Steele (London, 1893), pp. 91-92 ]