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  • Alex, Sundew Ecology

A monument to murder in Harewood Forest

Updated: Jun 7

This is the second in a series of blogs written during the Covid-19 outbreak, aimed at encouraging you to explore new places and discover something about the natural world on your doorstep while 'social distancing' to help prevent the spread of the virus. Government guidance says that you can go out for exercise once a day with members of your household, as long as you stay more than two metres from anybody you meet.

It is so important to connect with nature as much as possible in these troubling times. These are great places to visit with the family or are wonderful to go alone to seek out nature and quiet contemplation.

Keep washing those hands!

Harewood Forest is another ancient woodland with an interesting history. Like Bowdown Woods in the last blog, it was heavily used by the military during WW2 for ammunition storage, leaving a network of concrete tracks and abandoned buildings. Harewood Forest is privately owned, so you should stick to the well-signed public footpaths and permissive routes.

One of these footpaths leads you to an unusual monument almost hidden in the centre of the woods.

This simple stone cross memorialises the thousand-year-old murder of a nobleman by King Edgar. The nobleman had married the King's potential bride after being sent to assess her suitability as queen. More information about this legend with a full transcript of the, now difficult to read, inscription can be found here.

This is the best time of year to see woodland flowers as they take advantage of the spring sunshine before the tree leaves begin to cast too much shade for them to grow.

Everybody is familiar with Bluebells, with their delicate nodding flowers, but you will also see Wood Anemone, Violets and Primroses.

Wood Anemone

If you look closely at Hazel twigs - the ones with the 'lambs' tales' catkins - you might see tiny red flowers. These are the female flowers which trap the pollen grains as it is blown on the wind from the male catkins. Once pollinated, the swelling below the flower will start to turn into a hazelnut.

A small, brown ball of fuzz with a long proboscis and wings in a blur is a Bee Fly. They sip pollen from the spring flowers and flick their eggs into solitary bee's nests after rubbing their bottoms in the dirt to coat their eggs in dust to make them go further.

There is a whole network of paths at Harewood Forest, many of which are hard concrete. We parked in a small layby where a footpath meets The Middleway between Andover Down and Longparish (here). Head up the slope to the south and through the new plantation. you will eventually come across signs to the memorial.

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