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Our Bronze Age legacy....a beautiful butterfly.

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Anne Diamond | 15:05 UK time, Tuesday, 12 February 2013

trees in a woodland

Were it not for the ancient people of Lambourn in what's sometimes call the the Valley of The Racehorse in Berkshire, the wonderful Marsh Fritillary would have disappeared centuries ago.

But this little three hectare patch of land now known as Seven Barrows (even though there are nine) is one of the very few places in the UK where the beautiful butterfly can now be found - and the reason is the Barrows themselves. They're ancient burial mounds (one grave alone was found to contain the cremated remains of 100 individuals dating from 2200 BC!) and because they make it impossible to plough the land, they've always been impossible to farm.

Which means the habitat has been kept more or less intact for thousands of years.

That's important for the (wait for another fantastic name...) Devil's-Bit Scabious which is a small wildflower with purple-blue pincushion-like flower heads - and is the foodplant for the Marsh Fritiliiary.

So thanks to those Bronze Age mounds, we still have a beautiful butterfly which would otherwise have disappeared from Berkshire forever. For more on this, have a look at BBOWT.


  • Comment number 1.

    The lovely butterfly bares a basic resemblance to our Monarch, a handful of swallowtails and some moths.. unfortunately here their numbers (along with bees) dwindle each year with the use of pesticides and herbicides... the attempt to deal with the drug trade in South America is killing off the Monarch who migrate there every year.. around here it is the farmers caring little for the environment or the damage they do, just eager to garner wealth...I'm afraid the burial mounds will not save the day here and one day they will all become a

    Larry Woller
    “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again”..William Penn
    Veteran, SGT, USMC (Vietnam, in country 1965-66, 12th Marine Regiment).
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