Vital clean-up for historic monument
Vital scrub clearance has been carried out to preserve a natural historical monument created centuries ago near Newmarket.
The Jockey Club Estates teamed up with Natural England to clear scrub that had built up in Devil’s Dyke.
Work to maintain the dyke, which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Scheduled Monument, was carried out from February 20 to 26 between the A1303 and the nearby railway line.
Nick Patton, spokesman for the Jockey Club Estates, said the clearance was “a bit of pain for a long-term gain”.
He said: “This is for the long-term benefit of the dyke. It’s an amazing historical monument and we have got to make sure it’s going to be there for years to come.”
Mr Patton said the long-term plan was to have sheep or cattle grazing on the land to maintain it naturally, and that while most of the work was completed, the landowners would return in November to check on the site.
A Natural England spokesman said the dyke provided a habitat for a variety of plant life including the pasque flower, salad burnet, drop-wort and butterflies such as the chalkhill blue.
He added: “The dyke is one the best and most extensive area of species-rich chalk grassland in the county. It remains one of the few areas still supporting this diversity of species, once traditionally maintained by sheep grazing.
“This rich and beautiful habitat needs open areas to flourish, so the landowners have been clearing the scrub to prevent the grassland species being shaded out.
“Removing the scrub helps prevent roots damaging its structure.”
The 7.5-mile-long Anglo-Saxon earthwork, made up of a bank and ditch of clay and chalk, stretches from Reach between Newmarket’s Rowley Mile and July racecourses to Ditton Green.
References to the dyke, which is believed to have been built between the 5th and 6th centuries to control trade and as a military and defensive barrier, have appeared as far back as the 11th century.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
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