Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Avon Wildlife Safari 40 - Not just the woods but an ancient Common too!

Lower Woods in South Gloucestershire is a fine example of ancient woodland and coppices that cover three square kilometers. It remains very true to the original Medieval landscape of individual woodlands and coppices surrounded by ancient woodbanks and separated by grazed Common land and old grassy roads called 'trenches'.
Inglestone Common
Inglestone Common, situated near the village of Hawkesbury Upton, and surrounding Lower Woods, is a fantastic example of the traditional settlement pattern of small cottages surrounding what was once land on the local manor. The land would be handed over to the 'commoners' as it was deemed unsuitable or excess to requirements by the manor house. Those with commoners rights were not restricted to the houses immediately adjacent to the common and there are still some people as far away as Kingswood who possess some rights of the common.

Nearby Hawkesbury Common was known as Hawkesburye's More and Inglestone Common was known as Inguston Greene or The Green Common or even, "The Grosse Common of Hawkesbury below the hill". They provide a great resource to discover the social and natural history of the area and people would have relied upon them to provide fuel and food. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust still manage the woodlands at Lower Woods in the traditional way and firewood and coppiced hazel products are available to buy, from the car park.
The rich woodland and grassland flora attract a diversity of butterflies and the scrubby areas around the edge of the woodland provide great nesting areas for birds. n summer look for old meadow species including ragged-robin, common-spotted orchids, betony and devils-bit scabious and butterflies like white admiral and silver washed fritillary. 

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