For the common good

Cattle on Minchinhampton Common

It's a tradition stretching back thousands of years, kept alive by the Trust and commons graziers who together care for Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons. We’re sustaining an ‘island’ of rough grassland, with all its rare plants and animals, in a busy corner of the country.

This ancient way of life protects one of Britain's richest limestone grasslands. It’s now a haven for pasque flowers and orchids, Duke of Burgundy and Adonis Blue butterflies, glow worms and lesser and greater horseshoe bats. And the list keeps growing.

Pasque flower on the common
Pasque flower on the common
A Duke of Burgundy butterfly on Minchinhampton Common
A Duke of Burgundy butterfly on Minchinhampton Common

Adonis Blue

The Adonis blue, whose first brood emerges in spring and second brood in August, is not only a beautiful butterfly but also one of the Cotswold’s greatest conservation success stories. The male is a bright sky blue while the female is mostly brown with some blue veins and orange spots at the edge of her wings.

Adonis Blue butterfly
Adonis Blue butterfly

How the cattle play their part

Without our combined action the commons would quickly revert back to scrub and woodland, and the rare grassland plants and animals would be gone. Each May on Marking Day, cattle are let out under the commoners’ grazing rights and trim the grass in just the right way to encourage wildlife and prevent scrub invasion.

" Working with these hardy breeds, the tough grass is kept down, the local farmers rewarded and the land gently improved"
- Richard Evans, area ranger

The cattle are a fine mix of everything from Longhorns and Herefords to Belgian Blues, and up to 500 of these delightful ‘patchwork’ beasts can be seen roaming the commons every year.

And the first to admire them is ranger Richard Evans. “We hope to share these best practices with our neighbours, balancing the needs of the farming community with those of the precious wildlife. In the end it can only be for the common good.”