Queens Award for Voluntary Service

Early History of the Flora Field 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.

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.

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. What Lies Beneath the Fields Lecture Slides.

There are also two blog posts detailing the finds.

Flora Finds 10, 16, 29 January 2014

Summary of Flora Field January 2014 Visits

Flax seal

An informative blog post about the Flax Seal found in Flora Field. The post is written by Joy Greenwood, following Ruth Jenkins’ talk ‘The Story of Fairfield from Pre-history to Today’ given on 23/10/2014.

Field walk

Thanks to Vicki Cummings for providing the following summary of a fieldwalk undertaken in 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”