A ranger’s view of Stonehenge Landscape

A Marbled White butterfly at Stonehenge

Ranger Keith Steggall explains why Stonehenge Landscape is important to him, and the species that live there.

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.
 

An ancient 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.
 

Wildlife abounds

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.