Perched on the steep banks of its chalk ridge, Corfe Castle is a stronghold for the plants and animals which make up a rich chalk grassland habitat.
The castle mound has been classified as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance as a good example of a semi-natural habitat.
The castle itself supports 102 species of lichen, including four nationally rare and 11 nationally scarce species.
Life on the ground
A variety of grass species such as quaking grass, crested dog’s-tail and common bent grow on the mound.
Hairy fruited cornsalad, a tiny rare plant, is found on tracks across the mound, while pyramidal orchids can be seen from June to August.
Within the castle grounds, herbs such as Alexanders, wild marjoram and pellitory of the wall may also be found.
Something in the air
All of the castle's plants are a magnet for butterflies, such as meadow brown, marbled white, small copper, gatekeeper, wall brown, large and small skipper and the common blue.
Look higher, and you may be able to spot jackdaws and Corfe’s magnificent ravens (see below).
Legend of the ravens
Like the Tower of London, Corfe has always had resident ravens.
Many believed that something terrible would happen if the ravens ever left the castle.
According to local legend, that is exactly what happened in 1638.
In 1643, during the Civil War, Corfe was besieged by Cromwell's men, and three years later the castle was all but destroyed.