Breinton Springs, Herefordshire
Almost 15 acres of rich and tranquil landscape, featuring a Scheduled Ancient Monument, traditional orchards, and a freshwater spring.
River wye and freshwater spring
Breinton Springs lies on the river wye, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the presence of various fish, birds, mammals, and invertebrate species, as well as the topography of the river itself. The freshwater spring is located below the Scheduled Ancient Monument and was likely associated with the medieval occupation of the site.
There is also a small pond located within the site, which provides a habitat for several amphibian species, most notably the great crested newt, the largest of the UK's native species and strictly protected by conservation laws.
In recent centuries, Breinton Springs has been used primarily as an orchard, with numerous varieties of apples, including some that are rare survivals.
There is a mix of old and younger trees, however, most are of a similar age and are over-mature. The orchard at Breinton is known to support a variety of wildlife, including the nationally rare Nobel Chafer Beetle (Gnorimus nobilis) and the Mistletoe Marble moth (Celypha Woodina), a rare, local species that is found almost exclusively in mature apple orchards.
Southwest of St. Michael Church lies a prominent mound, which is recorded as a medieval motte. Within this medieval structure lies the remains of a small courtyard building complex surrounded by a tall narrow stone wall, which is thought to be a bailey or a deserted medieval village.
From 1959 to 1962, Breinton Springs underwent two seasons of archaeological excavation, uncovering the remains of several stone buildings including a gatehouse and hall. The pottery found during this excavation indicates that the site was occupied between 1150 and 1450 AD and it is thought to have been a country residence of the Treasurer of Hereford Cathedral during the medieval period.
More recent excavations revealed a larger enclosure surrounding this building which appears to be an early fort that pre-dates 1150 AD. Excavation of this part of the bank and ditch in 2018 showed that the fort was used during the late-Saxon period as a Mercian military emplacement overlooking the former Ford.