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New visitor information boards share past and present of Bury Hill Meadows

Did you know that Bury Hill Meadows was once the site of an Iron Age Fort? Or that from the hills on the site you can see Salisbury Plain and the North Wessex Downs on a clear day?

Two new interpretation boards have been installed this week, containing lots of information about the historical and present uses of the 15-hectare site.

One board located at the top of the site, explains the history of Bury Ring. Over 2000 years ago, the Iron Age hill fort consisted of a large double rampart topped by palisades which would had once have enclosed the homes of an important community and the local seat of power. Farms and hunting grounds would have surrounded the fort and surplus grain was stored here.

The second board explains how the council has transformed this once arable land into a species-rich native chalk grassland. Going forwards, the site will be managed for wildlife and public access, with the main focus on developing the site into a thriving habitat for species including harvest mice, and brown hair streak butterflies.

Bury Hill Meadows contains a range of habitats including hedgerows, grassland and woodland and supports species including Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Dog Rose, Hazel and Kidney Vetch – the only food source for the small blue butterfly. A range of bird life can be seen nearby including sparrow hawks, kites, buzzards, kestrels and sky larks.

Site-specific images created by local artist Carla Vize-Martin, growing up locally in the New Forest, helps to tell the story of the space. The first shows a wildflower meadow in full bloom and key information about the site. While the second shows how the site might have looked in the iron age, with oxen, countryfolk and warriors.

Carla said: "This has been an amazing experience, working with the team from Test Valley Borough Councils passionate countryside officers. Their excitement and dedication to re-wilding this chalk land habitat is so inspiring. From flora to fauna they care deeply, and have an extensive knowledge. They have created and continue to manage somewhere really fabulous for our native species to thrive, and for people to enjoy for generations to come. Well done!"

Cllr Terese Swain, Portfolio Holder for Community and Leisure, said: “Bury Hill Meadows was purchased by Test Valley Council in 2021 using housing developer contributions. It offers local residents access to a nature-rich space in the countryside with a lovely perimeter walk of approximately 1.3 miles around the edge of the site. The central path provides the option for a shorter loop.”

Visitors to the site are asked to stick to the paths and comply with signage on site to avoid disturbing any ground-nesting birds.