An ancient and atmospheric site with a wonderful variety of chalk grassland flowers and butterflies
Once widespread over the Downs, flower-rich chalk grassland such as that preserved at Seven Barrows, has suffered drastic declines due to intensive farming.
Bronze Age beginnings
It is impossible to say for certain what this countryside looked like when its Bronze Age inhabitants were constructing their burial mounds, known as 'barrows', but it was likely to have been covered by woodland. The now characteristic open, rolling grassland of the Berkshire Downs was certainly shaped by people. Seven Barrows (there are actually 30 in the vicinity) may have been one of the first areas to have been cleared by early humans. It has long provided a home for grassland plants and butterflies. Until comparatively recently, such flower-rich chalk grassland was widespread over the Downs, but now few wildlife havens are left because of intensive farming. This area probably survived because the barrows make it physically difficult to plough the land.
Flowers and butterflies
More than 150 plant species have been recorded on this old chalk grassland including horseshoe vetch, chalk milkwort, fragrant orchid, the delicate blue harebell and the purple-blue clustered bellflower. Its notable butterfly list features the nationally rare marsh fritillary, the chalkhill blue, small blue and the brown argus.