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acta provides practical services for the conservation of historic landscapes and buildings. Our work includes conservation plans, management plans, heritage assessment and landscape restoration on sites ranging from medieval abbeys to Cold War airfields.

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Ancient woodland - the art of the possible

20th July 2020


  1. Historical maps showing woodland on great rural estates such as this for Sheffield Park in Sussex are generally accurate and detailed, although they often showed what the landowner intended to do as well as what was actually present. Mapping of the more remote areas on the county series maps was often less accurate
  2. In this example at the Leith Hill Estate the land was rough pasture on the edge of woodland until the twentieth century, but bluebells, an ancient woodland indicator, survive beneath the bracken. They may have survived from the woodland that was cleared to create the pasture, have spread from the adjacent woodland, or both
  3. Veteran trees require detailed specialist surveys
  4. Wild garlic is often cited as an ancient woodland indicator, but in the South-East it is found widely on flood plains and recent wet woodland
  5. Almost all of the beech woodland on the scarp above Titsey Park in Surrey is quite recent plantation but there are small copses within it that may be ancient
  6. Church Wood on the slopes below Leith Hill is a classic bluebell woodland. The name may derive from a personal name or pre-Reformation grant to the Church. It is dominated by bluebells with few other ancient woodland indicators, but this may be because of the uniform gradients and soil conditions which suit this species
  7. Dense areas of wood anemone can be a good indicator of ancient woodland but the leaves soon die back after flowering, and as with all surveys correct timing is essential



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