Friday, 18 February 2011

Best Practice Exemplar Historic Environment Action Plans Launched

On Wednesday 16th February 2011 the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership launched AONB wide Historic Environment Action Plans (HEAP) at a celebratory event at the historic surroundings of the Ancient Technology Centre, Cranborne, Dorset.

This event which was attended by 95 people representing a full cross section of local people, local and national organisations introduced the special archaeological and historic characteristics of this amazingly diverse landscape. It introduced how the new Historic Environment Action Plans will help look after these key features for future generations.

At the heart of the Historic Environment Action Plans are 20 actions which over the next five years will help conserve and enhance the archaeology and history of the area. These range from increasing local understanding of prehistoric sites to looking after historic water mills.

These plans will be implemented by a dedicated group which anyone is welcome to join by contacting the AONB Office on 01725 517417.

One of the outputs from the project is a web portal with a wealth of information on the history and archaeology of the area which was recently featured in the national publication British Archaeology see and which will be of immense interest to local people.

Andrew Vines, Regional Director of English Heritage, helped the AONB launch the action plans, and the Chairs of Hampshire County Council, South Somerset District Council, the chair of the AONB partnership and the Mayor of Blandford Forum were also in attendance

The AONB Partnership is an alliance of 19 organisations, hosted by Wiltshire Council, that work closely together to ‘conserve and enhance’ this nationally designated area. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

AONB Historic Environment Action Plans launched today check out coverage tmw in Bournemouth Echo

It was great to see so many people at the Ancient Technology Centre in Cranborne today for the launch of our historic environment action plans. Full details to follow tomorrow.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Landscape Character Network has a new home.

lcn logo with text

Natural England has taken over hosting the LCN online from February 11th 2011. The new pages allow you to download the latest Landscape Character Newsletter as well as access resources and details of the latest workshops. This is an invaluable resource for anyone who uses landscape characterisation and it is great to see it continuing.

Friday, 11 February 2011

New Natural England guide to managing heritage features

Natural England has launched a new suite of conservation guides - one of which looks at the management of heritage features. It has separate sections which deal with management on grassland, arable and moorland, and is accompanied by illustrations picturing good and bad practice. The full suite of conservation guides are available from the Natural England website.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty

So I work for an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB for short), which is a mouthful especially when combined with its full name of the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB.

But what does AONB mean? Well, it is a landscape who's quality in terms of natural, cultural and built heritage and visual character is so high that the government decided it needed to be looked after using legislation.

An AONB is very similar to national parks, such as the Lake District, which many more people have heard of, and in fact it has an equivalent status in planning. National Parks however are their own Local Authority (or council) while AONB's are run as partnerships of existing councils. In the piece of law in which they were created (the Access to the Countryside Act 1949), the primary purpose of an AONB was defined as 'conserving and enhancing National Beauty, this is important because you will notice that the word 'preserving' is not mentioned.

These are living landscapes which will continue to change but which we need to work a little bit harder to look after because they are so special. One final factoid National Parks have a duty to provide for access and recreation while AONBs don't. My AONB has its own management plan and you can find out about this and much more besides at the AONB website.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Medieval Hunting Forests


Both the terms ‘Forest’ and ‘Chase’ meant hunting grounds and were terms used in legal documents and disputes from the Medieval period onwards. Outlaws, such as Robin Hood, were defined as a person committing an offence in a forest in which he did not live - and thereby being outside of the protection of the law. If you are nerdy like me and want to find out more, there is a comprehensive online glossary of these terms made by Oxford University.
The modern perspective of hunting of Medieval hunting forests is of great swathes of trees. but in the Medieval period it meant a place that was outside normal laws. Famous examples include the New Forest and Notthingham Forset and in my local area Selwood, Grovely and the Cranborne Chase .

Ancient Burial Mounds

I pass this Round Barrow cemetery on Oakley Down everyday on the way to work. These Bronze Age Burial mounds are at least 4000 years old and mark the introduction of new burial practices into the country. A single body was placed beneath the mound of earth often with grave goods including the first metal objects.

 It was the antiquarian William Stukeley in the 18th Century who first noted that the Roman Road called the Ackling Dyke cut through one of the disc barrows in the cemetery. This added to the growing body of evidence which showed that there had been a lengthy pre-roman occupation of the British Isles.

Its near the junction with the B3081 and the A354 at the Sixpenny Handley roundabout so keep a careful eye out when you next drive by.