Rodborough Common consists of some 242 acres of open grassland on the top of Rodborough Hill, which rises to over 600 ft. above sea level. In origin, it was an area of woodland belonging to the lord of the manor of Rodborough, in which the inhabitants of the parish had the right to graze livestock. In 1615, when it was described as 'the custom wood', there were evidently still trees, but subsequently intensive exploitation left it as the present open common. Local farmers still have the right to graze livestock here.
In more recent centuries, the common has been used for many purposes. In the 18th century, building stone was quarried at several small quarries on the edge of the common and archery tournaments were held at the Bear Inn. In 1906, the Stroud Golf Club was established at the Bear, and a nine-hole golf course was laid out on the common. The golf course closed in 1929-30 at the height of the depression, but it is still possible to make out four of the greens.
The flora and fauna of the common are unique in many respects, and it was one of the first sites in the country to be designated a European Special Area of Conservation. Since 1937, the common has been in the ownership of the National Trust.