Protecting our Heritage

The Solway Wetlands Centre at RSPB Campfield Marsh

A new small visitor centre and educational facility has been created at the RSPB reserve of Campfield Marsh, approximately 1.5 miles west of the village of Bowness-on-Solway. The building is a 19th century barn, part of the original North Plains Farm, carefully restored using traditional and environmentally friendly building techniques including hempcrete plastering and sheep’s wool insulation. 

The Wetlands Centre is an ideal first port of call to explore the Solway Coast, and the reserve features a mixture of wetland habitats including saltmarsh, wet grassland and peat bog and lots of fantastic wildlife as a result of careful management of natural habitats. Paths, wildlife hides and boardwalks allow you to get out and experience this unique landscape on site. The Centre provides car parking, an exhibition, toilets and hot drinks and is open all year round. New access routes are also being created on site to allow you get close to wildlife and enjoy the site. A family discovery area is being created to enable everyone to get close to, and enjoy wildlife.

Patchwork Wetlands

The Project’s Wetland Officer works directly with a landowners across the Solway Plain to assist and offer advice on improving land for wetland wildlife, largely through higher level stewardship (HLS). The more small “patches” of land improved, the better the area becomes for wildlife on a larger scale, and it is this “patchwork” approach that reaps the best results for biodiversity. The project also takes in water framework directive sites and larger scale peatbog restoration, a habitat type which has suffered much damage over the past few decades.

Scrape creation and viewing area at RSPB Campfield Marsh

Rogersceugh, on the far side of the reserve, is a lovely place to walk to from the Solway Wetlands Centre. This project will restore wet meadow habitat, improving a whole range of species, particularly birds such as lapwing, curlew and redshank which need wet grassland to breed. The project will also create a viewing screen to allow the visitor to experience the special wildlife of this site.

Marsh fritillary reintroduction

Marsh fritillary butterflies are native to the Solway Plain but became extinct in 1991. The butterflies need devil’s bit scabious (the butterfly’s larval food plant) and a nework of sites to move around between. Work has already been carried out re-introducing a population into Finglandrigg Wood National Nature Reserve but more needs to be done to make this sustainable.

This project will recreate habitat by identifying suitable areas of wet grassland within a close vicinity of each other and planting up devil’s bit scabious onto the site. It also may involve nurturing and releasing butterfly larvae. This is the first stage of a long term project on the Solway Plain. Public events, volunteer and community group planting are taking place throughout the project timescale.

Gate Stoops

Since 1965 farm machinery has more than doubled in size, meaning that traditional sandstone gate “stoops” or posts have increasingly been broken. The stoop has often been replaced with wood or concrete which is not typical of the landscape or asthetically pleasing. Therefore 20 pairs of gate stoops will be reinstated into the Solway Plain landscape through interested landowners.

Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Archaeological Investigation

There are many heritage sites dating from the prehistoric period to the modern on the Solway coastline which are at risk from erosion due to rising sea-levels. As part of the regional project called Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment (RCZAA) designed by English Heritage, the Solway Wetlands Partnership commissioned the archaeologists to provide extra works to underpin and reveal the Medieval sites on the Solway to use as a baseline for further archaeology work throughout the Solway Wetlands Project.

Please contact us if you would like to read the report.

Hidden Heritage Archaeology

An exciting programme of archaeology work has been commissioned, led by Grampus Heritage and Training Ltd. Work is focused around finding out about the impact that the Cistercian monastery of Holme Cultram had on the surrounding Solway Plain. The project consists of a mixture of excavation, geophysics, fieldwalking and archival research.

There are lots of opportunities to get involved: see the Archaeology section for more details.

Heritage placement students

These 10 week paid placements will provide valuable work experience for students aged 18 - 25 studying archaeology and heritage related subjects or with previous work experience in the area. The student will work alongside Grampus Heritage on aspects of the Hidden Heritage programme of active archaeology. Ideally they will use the project’s archaeology and heritage work as a topic for a dissertation and this will contribute to our understanding of the heritage of the landscape. We will take run a placement May – July in both 2014 and 2015 so please contact us if you are interested.

Remembering the Solway

Many people living on the Solway Plain have memories and stories about the area from decades ago. We aim to work with communities to talk about and record their memories of their life on the Solway and in particular their connections with the Mosses. In times of rapid change, it is vital that these memories are recorded for the future.