Sunday, 4 August 2013

Avon Wildlife Safari Day 17 - Visit an iron age hill fort

Dolebury Warren is owned by the National Trust and managed by Avon Wildlife Trust. Situated on the site of an iron age hill fort, it has spectacular views across North Somerset and the Mendips. To find it you need to follow the A38 southwards from Churchill village and take first left turn after traffic lights into Dolebury Bottom. Drive slowly along lane and park in small car park. There is a circular walk from here that takes you to the summit, along the top of the iron hill fort remains, through woodland and across the fields. So great for picnic stops along the way.

Dolebury Warren is a very good example of a medieval/post medieval rabbit warren which was used to breed rabbits, providing valuable meat and fur. The warren is completely enclosed by the substantial ramparts of the Iron Age hillfort, Dolebury Camp. Many warrens were surrounded by banks or walls to prevent the rabbits from escaping; escaped rabbits caused damage to nearby farmland and meant a loss in profit. Reusing the hillforts defences as a boundary provided an ideal location in which to breed rabbits.

It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to it's mix of wildflowers in limestone grassland that covers the summit and slopes. Here 'lime-loving' plants like rockrose flourish alongside such 'acid-loving' plants as bell heather, which survive on patches of acidic sand blown onto the site during the ice age. The rich diversity of species such as eyebright, early purple orchid, lady's bedstraw and small scabious make it an attractive site for bees and butterflies.

See if you can spot any of the summer flowers on our spotter sheet while you're there.

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