England's rural landscape is one of the jewels of our national heritage. It is too easily overlooked when we concentrate on individual buildings or archaeological monuments, and its historic dimension can be too easily missed if landscape is admired as beautiful scenery. (English Heritage)
Landscape characterisation looks at the essential qualities and character of the area. It looks at the way history, archaeology, geology and agriculture have all contributed to its present structure. In recognising the historic character of a landscape we begin the process of protecting it for future generations to enjoy.
Example: Ridge and furrow earthworks, the corrugated fields produced by medieval cultivation that were once a familiar sight across many parts of England, are now a rare archaeological resource and becoming more so as each year passes – Hall, D (2001) Turning the plough – loss of a landscape legacy
Extract from 27351_037 17-NOV-2011. © English Heritage.
“The countryside is our great communal masterpiece…the result of hundreds of years of… human interactions with the land…if we like the way it looks, we should keep on working at it” - Andrew Motion – sometime President, CPRE
An assessment of the Warwickshire landscape around Warmington undertaken in 1987 by the WCC describes the area around Warmington as the Plateau Redlands and Edgehill- a rich agricultural landscape of red soil and small ironstone villages. Flat table land incised by steep sided river valleys, steep wooded slopes along the marlstone escarpment, small nucleated villages built largely of the local ironstone and unimproved grassland and scrub on the steep valley sides.
The finding of flint tools shows that the high ground above Warmington has been used since the Mesolithic hunter gatherer period (6,000-4,000BC). Agricultural use of the land may have continued throughout the bronze age (2,000 BC to 700 BC) although evidence for this is sketchy and not supported by pollen samples. Signs of fortification of the Spur above Warmington and the finding of a Neolithic burial chamber may point to a rather different use of the land then and during the iron age (700 BC to 45 AD) and be linked to the iron-age fort at Nadbury on Camp Lane just a kilometre away. Evidence of Roman occupation (AD45 – AD410), including a sizable hoard of Roman coins and a shrine hard by the burial chamber, have been found and hint at a continuing special use of the area.
What happened in the early medieval period (AD410 – 1050) following the Romans is difficult to trace. Although some Saxon objects have been recovered from the area, there is little evidence for farming or habitation although Anglo-Saxon burials were found recently on the border with Ratley. By the later medieval period we can assume that the Roman fields had been swept away by the reorganisation of the manor’s lands into several huge fields divided into strips shared out amongst the villagers. Hints of ploughed-out ridge and furrow, typical of midlands open field systems, have been found on the high ground and are a common feature.in the valley below.
Historic Environment Record (HER)
Historic Environment Records or HERs provide comprehensive information and evidence about the historic environment in a particular area. They are an essential source of information for managing, caring for and understanding the historic environment. Maintained by local planning authorities, they are used for planning and development control as well as for public benefit and educational use. HERs can provide communities with a greater understanding of their local area and are an important resource, for example, in creating interpretation panels. The HER for Warwickshire covers all prehistoric and historic periods and all types of archaeological sites.
Warwickshire County Council Historic Environment Record (HER) team invites parishes to submit data on what it considers important aspects – for example; buildings, earthworks, monuments, sites of special interest (historic or scientific), hard and soft landscaping, archaeology and land use.
This is the sort of thing that should be included in the Parish Plan for it is these very special aspects of the parish that should be accorded some protection through the planning system. The Warmington Heritage Group has indicated some interest in pursuing both this and a landscape study but would need help and support - particularly in creating a photographic record. An extract from the HER for Warmington is included in the Draft Parish Plan.
The natural environment -Biodiversity
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan recognised that biodiversity is ultimately lost or conserved at the local level. It also recognised that achieving the Plan’s goal of conserving and enhancing biodiversity would require a partnership approach. Nowhere is this more important than at the local level. Why should we conserve biodiversity? Because our economy and lifestyles depend upon it (Natural England)
Warwickshire, Coventry & Solihull’s ‘Parish BAP (PDF - 812KB) is the first of its kind to be produced in the country - a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) for local communities.
"Local action, however small, is vital to the protection and enhancement of our wildlife and wild spaces. I hope the Parish BAP project will inspire people to take action to improve their local environment and explore the nature living in their patch”.