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Seven Barrows

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.

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Nearby nature reserves

Watts Bank
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Letcombe Valley
4 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
High Clear Down
7 miles - Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

Location
5.5 miles south-west of
Wantage
Berkshire
RG17 8UH
Map reference
SU 3288 8287
Great for...
butterflies
historical interest
wildflowers
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
Size
3.50 hectares
Walking information
Flat; firm, uneven in places
Parking
Take the B4001 from Lambourn; after 1.5 miles take left fork; after 1 mile, as road bends to left, take byway on right; park in unsurfaced car park 20m along byway
Dogs
Guide dogs only
Grazing animals
Yes
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01628 829574
info@bbowt.org.uk

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.