Quantock Hills Blog

With a little help from my mossy friend

- Ranger Bex gets a hairy companion

Rebekah West

Posted by Rebekah West on 01 December 2014

With a little help from my mossy friend Being a Ranger can be quite a lonely job and so I’ve decided to get myself a doggy companion to help me on the hills! He’s a greyhoundXbearded collie lurcher called Moss. Only 12months old, I found him in Wales, the gentleman who had him before me was trying to use him for rabbiting but found him to be too timid. Since I picked him up one month ago, he has come on leaps and bounds. His confidence is growing daily and he is starting to get used to the regular trips in my Ranger’s Hi lux!

So far he has come out in patrols with me, helped me to plant a tree and build a tree guard, done some fencing around Cothelstone Hill and felled some trees along Dead Woman’s Ditch, to help preserve the Scheduled Monument- this is where the pictures were taken.  Dead Woman’s Ditch is a prehistoric cross ridge dyke, a linear feature including a bank and ditch over a kilometre long. The dyke is likely to be territorial rather than defensive.  Dowsborough hill fort is situated above the north end and may relate to the same territory.

Assisted by volunteers Dave Pusill and Jon Bazely, we recently felled small oak trees across the ditch to prevent inappropriate access. The site lies within a SSSI and SAC woodland important for its sessile oaks so Natural England provided special permission for the work to go ahead. In general the small oaks here act as a canopy that prevents the monument from scrubbing up, it is largely covered in bilberry and ferns, any unwanted scrub is also being removed.

This atmospheric site is thought in local folklore thought to have got its name from the discovery in it of a murdered woman in 1789, whose husband John Walford was hanged for the murder at Walford’s Gibbet nearby. However, it has more recently been found that the name appears on a map of seven years earlier.
There are many important Scheduled Monuments around the Quantocks that need our continued protection and monitoring.  Our Volunteer Coordinator does a fantastic job of monitoring these monuments, along with a dedicated team of volunteers.  The next on the list for protection is Wilmot’s or Withyman’s Pool.  Here ‘offroaders’ have been accessing the pool, causing erosion to the ancient burial mound.  Work will begin here shortly to discourage access.

Keep an eye out as you walk through the Quantock Hills to see if you can spot any of these Scheduled Monuments.  From ancient burial mounds and pre historic ditches, to charcoal burning platforms, the landscape gives us many clues as to how our predecessors once lived.  We live within a landscape rich in valuable heritage so it’s important we preserve this as much as we can for generations to come.


Moss-tree at Dead Woman’s Ditch


Comments in chronological order (Total 3 comments)

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  • No avatar available
    Tim W

    05 Dec 14

    DWD is a really important monument so good work keeping an eye on it and making sure it is known. But why the silence about the ongoing conservation disaster which is the South end of Dead Woman’s Ditch where the Forestry commission have all but destroyed it?

  • No avatar available
    Tim W

    05 Dec 14

    Forestry commission’s recent ‘design concept plan’ reads: “Dead Women’s Ditch SAM currently
    ‘At Risk’ due to mature DF and WH stands.
    Exact location unknown in places.” Meaning it is gone, missing and destroyed in places. they go on to say they might do something about it but only ‘subject to funding’

  • No avatar available
    Tim W

    05 Dec 14

    Nice dog by the way.

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