A ranger’s view of Stonehenge Landscape

A Marbled White butterfly at Stonehenge

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

One of my favourite places at Stonehenge to spend time immersed in nature is the New King Barrows, a group of 4500 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.
 
Kestrels nest in the beech trees and a green woodpecker can often be seen and heard feeding on ant hills.
 
Hares and Roe Deer shelter in the coppice woodland and emerge early and late in the day to feed amidst the ancient earthworks.
 
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.