RSPB
Skip navigation
Print page

Managing the Historic Environment on our reserves

Cowslips on barrow

Cowslips on burial mound

Image: RSPB - Trace Williams

RSPB reserves contain thousands of archaeological sites and features, including around 150 Scheduled Ancient Monuments, which are protected by law in the same way as SSSIs because of their outstanding heritage value.

We also manage land within World Heritage Sites near some of the UK's most important archaeological sites such as Stonehenge, Hadrian's Wall, and the Ring of Brodgar.

The archaeological sites on our reserves span a period of around 10,000 years from the end of the last ice age through to the Second World War. The landscape change within this period has been dramatic due to both climate change and the way that human communities have adapted their environment.

Our reserves preserve different aspects of this change - some are visible monuments such as burial mounds on heathland, but others are deeply buried wetland deposits such as peat layers that can tell us about what the environment was like in the past, or even the remains of 7,000 year old 'bog oaks'.

These sites can be visited at the same time as exploring some of the UK's wildest and most wildlife-rich landscapes

Prehistoric farmers created many of the cultural landscapes that we now value so highly for wildlife - like heathland and chalk grassland. Our work at reserves such as Arne, The Lodge and Broadwater Warren aims to reinstate these wildlife-rich cultural landscapes and is helping to put archaeological sites back into their original landscape context.

All of our reserves have a story to tell and important archaeological remains to preserve, but not all have visible monuments. A list of the best and most accessible sites is linked from this page. These sites can be visited at the same time as exploring some of the UK's wildest and most wildlife-rich landscapes.

Working with partners such as national agencies, local authorities and voluntary groups, we are seeking to ensure that the historic environment is preserved for the future but also accessible and interpreted for our reserve visitors. Thanks to grant aid from English Heritage we have been able to employ archaeologists to review how we manage archaeological sites, provide training for our reserve staff and interpret sites for visitors.

We have been running heritage-themed events, installing interpretation panels and producing a variety of leaflets and trail guides. You can read some more about this work in RSPB Reserves 2010 and see a case study of our work at Broadwater Warren in a recent Birds article.

How you can help

RSPB reserves are great places for a day out

For more information

Robin Standring

Reserves Archaeology Officer

Telephone:01767 693303

English Heritage logo