Barrow Common (CWS 570)
We are aware that this privately owned County Wildlife Site is currently for sale.
A large undulating Common of predominantly acid grassland, giving wonderful views of the north Norfolk coast. The site forms an interesting mosaic of acid grassland, gorse, hawthorn and bracken scrub, along with woodland, a disused sand quarry and old chalk pit workings.
The site supports a long history as evidenced by remains of an ancient mound and round barrow. In more recent times the Common held a strategic importance due to its height above sea level and clear view out to sea, prompting the positioning of a WWII radar station that can still be seen on the north-west side of the site.
Although consisting primarily of gorse and bracken scrub, Barrow Common’s botanical diversity is definitely worth exploring. Large areas of unimproved grassland are vegetated by acid-indicative species including wavy hair grass, heath bedstraw and sheep’s sorrel. Also to be spotted in grassland edges and in smaller patches are heath groundsel, red bartsia, lesser stitchwort, harebell, meadowsweet and Lady’s bedstraw. To be discovered along the verges of Common Lane are attractive species such as, scarlet pimpernel, annual pearlwort and common poppy. An old sand quarry found to the south-east of the site is particularly botanically rich, with the rabbit-grazed quarry floor supporting biting stonecrop, viper’s bugloss, hop trefoil, harebell and the Near-Threatened common cudweed.
Within woodland areas bounding the Common can be found a variety of tree and shrubby species such as sycamore, oak, ash, silver birch, beech, elder, hawthorn, blackthorn, wych elm, lime, sweet chestnut, apple, hazel and holly. Ground flora within and along the edge of the woodland includes foxgloves and the nationally declining meadow saxifrage.
Exciting bird species to be spotted at Barrow Common include the firecrest, marsh harrier and turtle dove, which are now possibly breeding on the common. Five species of bat have also been recorded, including the rare barbastelle bat. The habitats onsite also support a wide diversity of invertebrates (in particular bees, wasps and butterflies) and a range of reptiles and amphibians such as the common lizard.
Acid grassland, scrub, woodland.
Best time to visit
In order to see the site at its most botanically diverse and to see uncommon wildlife such as turtle doves, solitary bees and reptiles, the best times to visit is late spring to summer.
Barrow Common Management Committee
None at present