Bracken a danger to heritage
HISTORIC ENGLAND has launched a four-year research project into how to control bracken and stop it causing damage to ancient monuments and archaeological remains.
Pilot projects funded by Natural England and Historic England have already examined the impact of con- trol methods such as sheep and cattle grazing and bashing on areas of the Northumberland National Park. The resulting intelligence was that, although effective against bracken growth, grazing also damages ancient infrastructure. The research has now been expanded to two sites in Northumberland and one on Dartmoor.
Concrete cylinders have been buried at the sites and research consultant Ketmar is monitoring the damage from bracken rhizomes and the effect of control methods on these simulated archaeological remains.
‘Bracken has a 20-year life cycle and behaves differently at various stages in this cycle,’ says Ketmar’s David Oatway, ‘so it’s important to conduct our research at a number of sites and in different climates. It’s very early days, but what we do find will be important to inform the future management of bracken at ancient and historic sites.’ Charlotte Cooper