Page last updated 31/05/07
Some notes from
Wild Boar In Britain
by Martin Goulding, published by Whittet Books Ltd 2003, ISBN 1873580584
The native wild boar probably died out in England in the 14th century - the Forest of Dean was unable to supply wild boar for Edward III (1307 - 1327) - and during the 16th century in Scotland. There are later records in England, e.g. Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, in 1539 and 1543 and Chartley Park, Stafford, in 1593 and 1683 but these are thought to be the result of reintroduction of the animal from the continent to hunting estates. James I imported wild boar into Windsor Park in 1608 and 1611.
More recently (1983 onwards) wild boar, imported for wild boar farming, have escaped and established themselves in the wild in southern England.
The native boar was probably of the sub-species Sus scrofa scrofa which now lives over a range of north-western Europe. The weight of the adult male boar varies over a range from 50 - 150 kg and 45-95 kg for a sow The litter size is normally 4-6, usually once a year but a sow can have two litters in a year. Wild boar can live up to 20 years in captivity. Wild boar are primarily nocturnal animals ... their daylight hours are spent lying hidden in dense vegetation, and they only emerge at dusk to to begin their nightly foraging activities. The area over which a wild boar will range ....males 0.5 to 7 sq miles, female 0.5 to 3 sq miles.
"The wild boar's preferred habitat is mature deciduous woodland where there is an annual crop of acorns, beech mast, chestnuts or other tree fruits. .. However the species can adapt to other habitats and its omnivorous diet allows it to live, albeit at lower densities, in coniferous forests, alder marshes and reeds." "Deciduous woodlands have a rich humus layer which the wild boar love to root through in search of bulbs, tubers, roots and invertebrates. The wild boar's diet is predominantly vegetarian but can include insects, worms, larvae, eggs, nestlings, small mammals and carrion."
It is apparent that the the high, sparsely vegetated valleys that are typical today of most of the places now called Swindale would not be favoured habitats for the wild boar. This would equally apply to Wild Boar Fell. However in earlier periods a warmer climate favoured a higher tree level and without modern widespread sheep grazing the trees would survive. In fact the very place names indicate that the habitat must have been suitable (for wild boar or swine) since it is unlikely that the names came from another source.