A Real Life District 12?

It’s time for the first entry in our latest series of guest posts! Kait is in full-on wedding mode so you’ll be hearing from special guest writer over the course of the next few weeks. Remember, you can submit a guest post to thevictorsvillage@gmail.com anytime!

Our first entry comes from Justin, who thinks District 12 seems awfully familiar. Enjoy!

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Hello! I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the curious parallels between the place where I am from and District 12. As the books state, Katniss hails from the region today known as Appalachia in the Eastern United States. I, however, am from the Forest of Dean District. It makes up the western portion of the county of Gloucestershire in south-west England. (Everdeen/evergreen/Dean? Get it?) Up until the mid 20th Century the area’s main local industries were coal and iron ore mining.

Forest of Dean: Harry Potter wuz here too!

Forest of Dean: Harry Potter wuz here too!

One of the two main towns of the district is called Cinderford (pop: 8,116) which is right on the edge of the forest itself. You can walk straight out of it into the woods just as Katniss does when she goes hunting. And, of course, District 12 gets reduced to cinders. The other town is called Coleford, but ‘cole’ is derived from the Latin for ‘cabbage’, apparently. I guess The Capitol didn’t care enough about the Districts to recognize proper names for their individual settlements.

I have saved the best for last. For hundreds of years in the Forest of Dean there has been a tradition known as Freemining whereby private individuals can claim a parcel of land to mine for themselves. These personal plots are known as ‘gales‘. No, really.

This is an extract from the Dean Forest (Mines) Act 1838:

“All male persons born or hereafter to be born and abiding within the said Hundred of St Briavels, of the age of twenty one years and upwards, who shall have worked a year and a day in a coal or iron mine within the said Hundred of St Briavels, shall be deemed and taken to be Free Miners.”

(There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether it is ‘Freeminers’ or ‘Free Miners’.)

Gale approved!

Gale approved!

I think there are some more links between the HG character of Gale and the FoD Freeminers:

“Amongst other places, Free Miners were frequently requested to fight in France and fought throughout the Hundred Years War, most famously at the famous battles at Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). Miners became used to being an essential part of the King’s armoury, Dean miners were sometimes called ‘The King’s Miners’ and ‘King’s Pyoneers’, known generally as ‘Sappers’ they undermined fortifications, created earthworks, trenches, building timber structures, installing stakes etc. As well as their renowned mining skills, the miners were also excellent archers and ferocious in hand to hand combat; they were hard men, used to operating in harsh conditions. By law from 1363 all English males from 7 – 60 years old were required to practise archery for at least two hours on Sundays and festival days…” Source.

In Mockingjay, Gale Hawthorne, the miner who wanted to be free, has a big hand in undermining the fortification known as the Nut. (Although, the Free Miners were, themselves, very much part of the establishment.)

So, if any of you out there gets an opportunity to talk with Suzanne Collins, do please ask her if there actually are any connections between The Hunger Games and the Forest of Dean.

Justin

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