Puzzlewood is an ancient woodland site, near Coleford in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, England. The site, covering 14 acres, shows evidence of open cast iron ore mining dating from the Roman period, and possibly earlier.
The geological features on show at Puzzlewood are known as scowles. Scowles originated through the erosion of natural underground cave systems formed in the Carboniferous Limestone many millions of years ago. Uplift and erosion caused the cave system to become exposed at the surface. This was then exploited by Iron Age settlers through to Roman times for the extraction of iron ore. It is usually impossible to date open cast extraction precisely, although ores with a chemical signature consistent with those from the Forest of Dean were certainly used to make tools and weapons in the late prehistoric period.
J. R. R. Tolkien, a frequent visitor to the Forest of Dean, may have visited Puzzlewood, and many believe Puzzlewood was the inspiration for the fabled forests of Middle-earth, such as the Old Forest, Mirkwood, Fangorn or Lothlórien contained within The Lord of the Rings. J.K Rowling is also said to have visited Puzzlewood, and it may have been this that influenced her idea of The Forbidden Forest in the Harry Potter books.