Greensand Country has been inhabited since prehistoric times, although the earliest people to live here left little sign apart from a few flints and pots now buried under the ground. By the iron age people were building villages and hill forts, which you can still see in the landscape today. Romans built roads along the ridge at Old Warden, Caesar’s Camp at Sandy and left scatters of pottery and beautiful glass at Shefford. Anglo Saxons founded towns and built the earliest churches. The Normans built manor houses and fortified castles, you can still explore one of their motte and bailey mounds at Cainhoe near Clophill.
In the middle ages the Greensand was a place of monasteries and deer parks. Cistercian monks lived at Old Warden and Gilbertine nuns in the priory at Chicksands. The soil was too thin to grow crops in most places so people farmed the woodlands, feeding pigs and growing timber. Rabbits were raised in huge warrens and peat was cut from the river valley at Flitton.
As the monasteries were closed by Henry VIII, the land passed over to the great families of England who built stately home and manor houses. Designers like Capability Brown and Humphrey Repton designed great parks like those at Woburn and Ampthill, making new lakes and streams, and wide open grassy spaces full of deer and grazing cattle.
In more recent times Greensand Country has been home to the armed forces, with the United States Air Force radio antenna at Chicksands.
Now over 1 million people live in and around the Greensand Country. The woods, parklands and miles of footpaths and bridleways make Greensand Country perfect for day outs on foot, bike or horseback. Organisations like the Greensand Trust, Wildlife Trusts, RSPB and Central Bedfordshire Council help look after the parks and nature reserves and maintain the footpaths and cycleways.