Project tackles threat of bracken to historic sites

Ingram Farm, where bracken research was piloted. Picture by Historic England
Ingram Farm, where bracken research was piloted. Picture by Historic England

Work has started on a new research project to help reduce the threat of bracken to archaeological sites in Northumberland.

Bracken is one of the main threats to scheduled ancient monuments in upland areas and can damage both the sites themselves and the views surrounding them.

It causes extensive damage to archaeology due to the rapid rate at which its roots can spread. But techniques to control it can also have an impact.

Pilot projects funded by Natural England and Historic England have already looked at the impact of different bracken control methods on the historic environment at Ingram Farm in Northumberland National Park. These ranged from cutting and bashing to grazing by cattle and sheep, with the latter found to be more damaging to the archaeology.

Now Historic England has commissioned consultants Ketmar to explore the effects of bracken control on archaeology across Northumberland and to identify to best ways of controlling it in an environmentally acceptable and cost-effective way.

Kate Wilson, Historic England’s principal heritage at risk adviser for the North East, said: “This project will help us to better understand how best to control this plant and the damage it causes.”