Wildlife

Natural stronghold

A girl uses a magnifying glass to look for wildlife at Corfe Castle, Dorset © David Levenson

A girl uses a magnifying glass to look for wildlife at Corfe Castle, Dorset

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

Pyramidal orchids are among the distinctive wild flowers and herbs © Alan Kearsley-Evans

Pyramidal orchids are among the distinctive wild flowers and herbs

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

A Common Blue Butterfly spreads its wings in the summer sun. © northeastwilldlifephotography.co.uk

A Common Blue Butterfly spreads its wings in the summer sun.

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).

Raven looking out over the countryside © Barry Boswell

Raven looking out over the countryside

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.

Wild and woolly

Soay sheep are among our natural lawnmowers at Corfe Castle, Dorset

Keeping the grass mown at Corfe Castle is a full-time job. Fortunately we’ve got some expert help in the shape of the rare breed sheep which roam outside the walls.

Walk on the wild side

The Wildlife Walk is a great way to reach the castle from the car park

Keep an eye out along the route of the Wildlife Walk from Castle View around the outer defences to the main entrance. You never know what you might be able to spot.

Animal magic

An adder

Animals you may spot include adders and slow worms. Common lizards can be regularly seen basking in sheltered sunny spots in the castle grounds and on the mound.

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