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History Society – Recent Meeting Presentation

30th March 2024 @ 6:06am – by Ian Jones
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whixhall moss

History Society – Recent Meeting Presentation

On Thursday evening, 2lst March, 2024, Barry Probin, a volunteer for Natural England at Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses, gave the Society a fascinating talk on the history, flora and fauna of these ancient peat bogs. The area covers almost 2,500 acres and straddles the English/Welsh border.

Barry began his talk by describing the ancient landscape shaped by glaciers n the last Ice Age, 10,000 year's ago. During the next few thousand years, mosses and other plants died, gradually becoming the peat bogs we see today.

Peat was cut by hand from the mosses until the 1980's when machinery wasintroduced, further destroying the eco system of the bogs. In 1990 peat cuttingceased after a passionate campaign by conservationists.

There have been signs of human activity on the mosses for millennia. Three bogbodies were discovered in the late 1800's together with a Bronze Age axe. Thebodies were subsequently given a Christian burial in local churches.

Barry went on to say that since the 1990's the mosses have been managed byNatural England and Natural Resources Wales, who have blocked drainageditches and removed scrub allowing water levels to rise, allowing a diverse rangeof flora, insect life and birds to flourish.

Examples of flora and fauna which can be found, cover a wide range of butterflies, moths, dragonflies and spiders including the very rare raft spider which has a leg span up to three inches. The mosses are also home to a diverse range of plants including cotton sedge, bog myrtle, bog rosemary and cranberry. Barry presented a captivating photograph of a curlew with a brood of chicks. The Llangollen Canal and a disused railway line, the Oswestry to Whitchurch line, run through the mosses.

Barry's fascinating talk was full of interesting facts which entertained the large audience from start to finish.

NB This National Nature Reserve at SY13 2RT is open all year round, free of charge.

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