A ranger’s view

Keith Steggall, National Trust Wiltshire Landscape Ranger Keith Steggall National Trust Wiltshire Landscape Ranger
King Barrow Ridge, Stonehenge Landscape

In my quiet moments, one of my favourite places to spend my time is at the New King Barrows, a group of 4,500 year old burial mounds, located to the east of Stonehenge on the King Barrow Ridge. Ancient beech trees that stand sentinel-like around them, giving it a unique atmosphere. It also gives a wonderful vantage point over the landscape.

Approaching from the north you first encounter flower rich chalk grassland to your left, restored in the year 2000, and fantastic views of the stone circle in the distance to your right. The impressive barrows are accompanied by a line of majestic veteran beech trees running alongside. The twisted and contorted beech trees, some with huge boles, really stir the imagination.

The hollows and bowls in the trunk trap water which is important for birds and mammals in this dry landscape.

The once wooded barrows are home to common lizards and slow worms living amongst the timeworn tree stumps.

The long grass is perfect hunting habitat for owls, the veteran trees provide great perches.  The hazel coppice provides food for small mammals and great spotted woodpeckers which can be seen and heard along here.

Winter sees an influx of visitors from colder climes, flocks of fieldfares and redwings arrive to feed on berries and large groups of chaffinches to take advantage of the beech mast.

In spring the first butterflies such as the brimstone and orange tip can often be seen here and in summer pyramidal orchids are scattered amongst the grasses.

Find out more about the beech trees on King Barrow Ridge in the video below:

Video

Ancient Trees of the Stonehenge Landscapes

In this video the National Trust tree expert Brian Muelaner explains about the spectacular ancient beech trees that are found just a mile from the Stonehenge monument.