Awareness of how
a landscape has been managed through history is important for its effective conservation. The richest
semi-natural ecosystems tend to be those which have enjoyed an unchanged management regime for a long period - in
some cases for many centuries - emphasising the correlation between traditional husbandry and
Most of the
farmland managed by the Trust extends southwards from the steep flanks of Bredon Hill, onto ancient flood terraces
left by the last Ice-Age, gradually descending towards the valley floors of the Carrant Brook and the River Avon.
This remarkable variation in topography gives rise to several different soil types, encouraging a diverse flora and
The photograph of Bredon Hill (above) illustrates the dramatic change in
height, attributed to the heard-wearing nature of the limestone cap of Bredon Hill. In
comparison, the softer clays lower down have been eroded and 'planed' over thousands of
years - producing a much softer landscape .
Bredon Hill is an
‘outlier’ of the Cotswolds, and consists predominantly of Jurassic 'Lower Lias' Clay overlain by a thin layer of
‘Lower Inferior Oolitic’ limestone. This limestone cap, originally laid down in shallow tropical seas, was formed
from the calcium-rich skeletons of billions of tiny sea creatures. The limestone layer is covered with very
shallow, free-draining soils, which are low in nutrients, encouraging a diverse range of plant
North of the
village of Westmancote, a band of massive, ancient ‘landslips’ is located at the boundary between the Oolitic
Limestone and the Lower Lias Clay layers. The clay forms an impenetrable barrier to water, which seeps naturally
through the porous limestone above, forming a natural spring-line around the southern flanks of Bredon Hill. These
springs feed the Carrant and Squitter Brooks.
The lower slopes
of Bredon Hill consist mainly of Lower Lias clay. This produces heavier soils, which are poor draining but very
fertile, contributing to a very different flora.
During the last
ice age, approximately 18,000 years ago, rivers deposited sand and gravel in the Carrant and Avon valleys bordering
Bredon Hill. These deposits produce free-draining soils and may cause fields to dry out during the summer months.
Alluvial silts are also found along the Carrant Brook and the River Avon.
The Lower Lias
clay and alluvial silt strata are comparatively rich in fossils. Notable examples of gryphaea (more commonly
known as devil’s toenail) are found, in addition to belemnites, ammonites and occasional crinoid fragments.
During the excavation of Kemerton Lake, a fossilized mammoth tusk was unearthed.
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information is important to the Trust - not least because it provides us with an insight into past land use, which
has a bearing on biodiversity. A significant body of data has been accumulated about the area surrounding the
Kemerton Lake Nature Reserve, which includes several sites listed in the Worcestershire Sites and Monuments Record
and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Much information came to light during sand and gravel quarrying here
in the 1990s and at nearby sites. This was later augmented by a Channel 4 ‘Time Team’ investigation into
areas north and east of the lake. To protect part of the underlying archaeological interest the northeast
corner of the reserve was left undisturbed.
picture provides an artist's impression of what the Kemerton Lake environs might have looked like during the
Ice-Age. This hunting scene is based on finds recovered from several quarries along the Carrant Valley in
south Worcestershire. It reconstructs a moment about 35-40,000 years ago in the lives of one type of early human,
the Neanderthals. A group drives hungry hyenas away from a dead reindeer. The animal will provide the
families with food for several days as well as warm skins for clothes.
glacial period temperatures were considerably lower than they are today. Every spring melt-water streams
flowed across the cool dry grasslands of the open tundra. The spring vegetation provided large mammals like
mammoths, reindeer and horses with their diet - and they in turn provided food for the hunters, predators and
scavengers which followed the herds across this open landscape.
To find out more
about this period visit the Ice Age Network website.
During the Bronze
Age (2100 to 700 BC) the reserve area is thought to have been part of a widespread system of farming, with animals
moved seasonally between the low-lying Carrant Brook valley and Bredon Hill. Interestingly, this practice
continues to this day, with cattle spending the summer on the hill pastures and returning to the lower ground for
Prior to the sand
and gravel extraction in the 1990s, an extensive excavation was carried out of a late Bronze Age pastoral
settlement discovered on the site. The settlement has been dated to between 1200 and 1000 BC, and a
reconstruction of it is pictured above. Groups of roundhouses were set within a pattern of fields, droveways and
waterholes. Over 4000 shards of pottery were recovered, along with other everyday objects such as loomweights and
bone pins. More unusual finds included mould fragments from the casting of bronze weapons and parts of fine shale
armlets traded from the south coast. Animal bones and environmental remains provided a wealth of evidence
about the crops that were grown and other resources that were used. One particularly interesting discovery was
pollen from flax (linseed) which could be used to produce oil as well cloth (linen) or rope.
interesting discovery was the identification of pollen from flax (linseed) which produces oil as well as fibres
which can be used to make cloth (linen) or rope.
information on this and other local archaeological projects please visit the following link... http://worcestershire.whub.org.uk/home/wcc-archaeology-agg.htm
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