History of the Reserve and earlier times

The first floral display of 2017 has appeared on the reserve. Whilst demonstrating the problems of having a nature reserve right on the edge of the village (these snowdrops are almost certainly a garden escapee) they do at least bring the promise of spring or at least the end of winter.

Over the last month I have taken the opportunity provided by wet and cold weather to look through the archive materials and scan and make copies of various documents related to the reserve and the sites history before it became a nature reserve. This includes old newsletters from 1990 -2002, extracts from various articles and a copy of entries in the Phytologia Britannica –  year of1650, along with many other items. Those who attended the AGM will have seen the range of aerial photographs of the reserve dating from the 1940 up to 2010.

As well as these historical records of man’s interaction with the site through both quarrying and conservation, the summer warden reports from 1970-1990’s have interesting details of the “recreational” interaction with the reserve. Among these are comments on flower picking (135 incidents reported in 1977), motorcyclcs on the site, and hill sliding on cardboard and metal sheets. All thankfully rarer activities these days.

A few other snippets picked out as I scanned through the articles are a survey of Muntjac deer pellets, the site being used from 1907 to graze retired draught horses brought from London and then when recovered sold on to local farmers, a 1960 visit by the Botanical Society and the use of Barnack ragstone for a 13th century tombstone.

There is plenty more if someone has an interest in writing up a comprehensive history of the “Hills and Holes”. One area that would certainly add to the records is anecdotes about use of the area in 20th century (1900-1970’s) any local recollections gratefully received. Also there is little information currently in the archives for 1500-1900’s so that could be interesting to research. When and how did it become part of the Burghley estate and how was it used?

If there is anyone or a few people who would be willing to pull together the historical information then please do get in touch records@fbhh.org.uk.