Ancient British woodlands poised for fame thanks to star role in 'Star Wars'

An ancient woodland site in England with a name as mystical as its trees -- Puzzlewood -- is poised to become a major tourist site after being featured in the latest Star Wars film.

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Located in Gloucestershire, west of London, Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean plays a supporting role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” as the stunning backdrop to a key battle scene involving Rey (Daisy Ridley), Stormtroopers and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

While much of the film may have been shot at the Pinewood movie studio in England, few special effects or CGI were needed to evoke a sense of otherworldliness at Puzzlewood, with its moss-covered forest floor, deep-cut canyons, twisting walkways, knotted trees and tangled roots.

The ancient forest and ruins are also believed to have been the inspiration for J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth in “The Lord of the Rings” and have likewise been used in productions such as “Doctor Who”, “Merlin,” “Jack the Giant Killer,” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1.”

“Filming 'Star Wars' in Great Britain was a wonderful experience,” said director J.J. Abrams in a video promo posted by Creative England which supports productions shot in the country.

“It brings ‘Star Wars’ to where it all began.”

Pointing out that all six films were shot in England, producer Kathleen Kennedy also called England “the home of ‘Star Wars.’”

“It’s nice to have it all back here,” she added.

Puzzlewood’s distinct, otherworldly landscape can be partly attributed to Scowles, geographical features that originated through the erosion and uplift of underground, limestone cave systems. The result is irregular, labyrinthine hollows and rising paths that lend the woodlands a mystical effect.

The woods are also believed to have been occupied by ancient Romans, following the discovery of thousands of Roman coins.

Meanwhile, after hosting a series of special Christmas events, a look ahead to events planned for Puzzlewood's 2016 season include performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Mother’s and Father’s Day celebrations, Easter Egg Hunts, and Halloween Witch Hunts.

Facilities include a Puzzlewood Cafe and dedicated play areas.

Admission for adults is £6.50 (about US$9.60), £5.30 (about US$7.90) for kids ages 3 to 16 and free for tots 2 and under.

The forest is closed in January and reopens February 13.


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