History of the Area

The Flora area of the nature reserve currently comprises a small area of mature mixed woodland, hedgerows, wet meadow and grazed pasture. The area has been farmed for many years prior to becoming a nature reserve, with records and physical evidence dating back to the 13th century.

Photo of lynchets by Mike Derbyshire - opens in new window

There is evidence of human activity in and around the Flora site over many years. In the fields are visible signs of medieval strip fields farmed by the townspeople of Lancaster. These are called ‘lynchets’ and were terraced strips wide enough to accommodate a plough and team of oxen. Here they would have grazed livestock and most likely grown oats. The method of farming changed little through Tudor and Georgian times but over the centuries the strips became amalgamated into larger fields and probably many of the hedges were planted.

In more recent times the fields have been grazed by sheep. Pony Wood was planted as a landscape feature by Aldcliffe Hall in the mid 19th century.

We have been fortunate enough to have people help us in unearthing various finds from the area, including, for example, stone axe heads found on Carr House Farm and a variety of smaller objects, including buckles, sack seals, musket balls and coins dating back to the early 18th century.

Please click the links below to see photos of various artefacts uncovered on the reserve, together with documents relating to the history of the area (slides and podcasts of talks given on the history of the area can be found on the Educational Programme page of the Flora section of the website):

Archaeological Finds

Thanks to Ian Sharp and Ken Sedgwick for unearthing the following finds and for the ‘What Lies Beneath the Fields’ talk they gave us on 18/09/14 (see Educational Programme page of the Flora section of the website for links to the slides and podcast):

 Flora Finds – 10th January 2015

 Flora Finds – 16th – 29th January 2015

 Summary of Flora Field January 2014 visits

Flax Seal

The following is a link to an informative blog post about Flax Seal written by Joy Greenwood, following Ruth Jenkins’ talk ‘The Story of Fairfield from Pre-history to Today’, given 23/10/2014 (see Educational Programme page of the Flora section of the website for links to Ruth’s Prezi and podcast):

Blog Post on Flax Seal

Field Walk

Thanks to Vicki Cummings for providing the following summary of a fieldwalk undertaken in April 2015:

 Summary of Flora Fieldwalk – April 2015

History of Aldcliffe

If you are interested in finding out more about the history of Aldcliffe itself, you may find the following PDF document, completed by Robert Bellis in 1987, a fascinating read. It comes with a caveat that occasionally some letters or numbers may not appear correctly, as the original was scanned using optical character recognition. Many thanks to Mandy Bannon for forwarding us this link:

 Robert Bellis’ Story of Aldcliffe

Detailed Historical Map

If you are interested in getting detailed historical (and current) maps of Lancashire, MARIO is Lancashire County Council’s on-line Graphical Information System (GIS). We are very grateful to Joy Greenfield of the Ramblers Association for sending us a document created by Brian Jones (many thanks to Brian!), which provides step-by-step advice on using MARIO as well as a wealth of links and other useful information:

 Brian Jones’ “Lost Ways Exercises on MARIO”