Evaluation of Organic Bracken Control on Archaeological Features at Ingram Farm, Ingram, Northumberland Project Report – Year 4
Project Number 6924
By Chris Scott, MICfA, Dr Janet Simkin, Dr Gillian Eadie
This document reports on the findings from a one year project extension of the Ingram Farm Bracken Project, funded by English Heritage and undertaken by Archaeological Research Services Ltd. The first three years of this project were funded by Natural England as part of a Higher Level Stewardship Agreement.
The principal aim of the project has been the assessment, by controlled experiment, of non-chemical techniques of bracken control, including assessment of their physical impact and cost effectiveness.
This information will be used to inform the future conservation management of archaeological remains on farmland in Higher Level Stewardship and the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, and the payments made to farmers for bracken control. It will also inform future Historic England advice on bracken management.
The experiment was set up at Ingram Farm in the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland, an area where extensive bracken stands have developed since grazing pressure was reduced, and where these are now thought to be causing significant damage to archaeological features.
Key findings were that:
- Three years is too short a time to detect long term ecological responses, but the results so far, after three years of treatment, suggest that both the stocking treatments have been unsuccessful as methods of bracken control, but that cutting, and to a lesser extent bashing, have had a significant impact on the bracken stands at Ingram Farm. Sheep penning in particular should be avoided as a treatment as it results in increased bracken growth and a loss of species richness.
- The stone movement data also leads to the conclusion that normal hill grazing in combination with bracken cutting is the best option for organic bracken control. However, further monitoring is needed to determine how long this annual treatment would have to be continued to have a long term effect. Until the number of living bracken shoots declines as well as their eventual cover and height, the effect of the treatment may be very short term and the bracken would soon recover if they ceased.
1. Introductions aims and objectives
3. Stone grids
4. Statistical analysis of stone movement
5. Vegetation survey
6. Financial data
Appendix 1: Botanical data for years 1-4
Appendix 2: Measurements and derived data
Appendix 3: Difference data
Appendix 4: Risk log
Appendix 5: Issues log
Appendix 6: Product descriptions
Appendix 7: Full botanical and bracken data
- Publication Status: Completed
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