Multinational effort to restore Exmoor’s historic mires

NEWS FROM EXMOOR NATIONAL PARK

Multi-national teams consisting of students from Germany, a volunteer from as far away as Switzerland and of course, the invaluable participation of those from Exmoor and the wider South West area have carried out essential restoration maintenance work at a number of sites.

A team of The Simonsbath Volunteers, the crew from TCV (The Conservation Volunteers)  and returning landscaping students from the Continent joined forces to complete quality-control checks and maintenance work, using spades, on the ditch blocks at Great Vintcombe which was first restored in 2009, looking at nearly 7000m of ditch across an area of 50 hectares.  This boosts the Volunteers’ grand total to a whopping 1017 days.

The skilful volunteers installed new wooden blocks and plugged up leaks in existing ones at Comerslade and at the well-known mire site of Blackpitts, where they also improved access by constructing a gate and building a new pathway across an eroded section. The work at Blackpitts in particular is very important as it is host to many guided walks looking at mire-specific wildlife and vegetation; the success of events such as Bogtastic (17 August 2014) depend on the ease of access and quality of bog this site now boasts.

Volunteers are central to the Exmoor Mires Project and the Project team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their time and efforts.

If you feel inspired and would like to get into the wild moors of Exmoor to do practical restoration work, or inspire the younger generation by volunteering at events such as Bogtastic Days, please contact David Rolls on 01398 322164, or email drolls@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk. There is also information on how to get involved on the Exmoor National Park website. Help is always needed and always appreciated.

The Exmoor Archaeology Forum 2013

During July archaeologists from the University of Bristol and Exmoor National Park were helped by local volunteers, the Young Archaeologists’ Club and pupils from St Dubricius School, Porlock, to investigate the remarkable 8,000 year old hunter gatherer site at Hawkcombe Head above Porlock. Excavations and fieldwalking* this year have recovered over 1,000 pieces of flint as well as the traces of fragile structures, the oldest so far found on Exmoor.

People can find out more about this and the fascinating archaeology of Exmoor’s moorlands on Saturday 21 September when the subject of the 13th Exmoor Archaeology Forum being held in Porlock Village Hall is Exmoor’s Moorland Archaeology.

Rob Wilson-North, conservation manager at Exmoor National Park says: “In recent years our understanding of Exmoor’s moorland past has changed beyond recognition, thanks to the work of a range of organisations and individuals. There are also concerted programmes of work directed towards the historic environment, such as the Exmoor Mires Project and the Exmoor Moorland Landscape Partnership Scheme. The Forum is an opportunity to learn at first hand where we have got to in unravelling Exmoor’s moorland story; we will also be addressing some of the challenges that face us in how we conserve these fragile remains.

“To discuss this and much more we have lined up some excellent speakers including Rebecca Bennett (Duke University, North Carolina), Chris Carey, Mark Gillings (University of Leicester) and Hazel Riley as well as staff from Exmoor National Park.”

Booking is essential to attend the Forum and a form can be downloaded from: http://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/environment/history   or phone 01398 323665 to request one by post. The cost is £15 per person (lunch included) or £10 per person (lunch NOT included).