Charcoal was a vital fuel in medieval times and was used in iron smelting until Abraham Derby developed a method of heating iron with coke to make steel. Extensive areas of woodland were consumed by the charcoal industry and this was a complex process whereby the wood was heated to drive off gasses with out it catching fire.
"The night like clouded charcoal scorched,
A sea of trees with starlight torched.
A night where laws are sound asleep,
Anarchic prayers running deep."