AONB Historic Buildings Survey – [2007]

The Society has been invited to become involved in recording and surveying the Island’s built heritage. Katie-Sue Wilson from the IW Council’s Conservation & Design Team is proposing a project, which in the first instance will survey a small area in the AONB and bring together heritage professionals, volunteers and the local community.

The positive outputs of the survey would be many and include the exchange of technical skills and local knowledge, raising awareness and enabling improved positive management, especially of those many buildings which are of historic interest but do not formally merit listed building status. The survey will result in a series of written records and digital photographs to be lodged with the County Archaeology Service’s Sites & Monuments Record as well as with the Conservation & Design Team as public access files. The aim is to ensure that the survey results are accessible to researchers/ parish councils/ groups/ curators and heritage professionals.

The benefits of successfully completing a small survey project will be that future surveys throughout the AONB will follow, expanding on the first model if successful. Areas under consideration include Shorwell, Brook, Brighstone, Yaverland, Hulverstone, Chale, Knighton, Adgestone and Nunwell.

UPDATE The pilot study for the parish of Shorwell has now been successfully completed.


Historic buildings in the AONB comprise a valuable natural resource contributing to the Island’s sense of place, landscape value and historic character. Despite its importance both to local residents and visitors, the rural built heritage remains under threat. Recent social, economic and policy changes have raised issues such as dereliction, conversion and re-use. More information and understanding of the built heritage of the AONB is now needed so that curators, individuals and the community can respond effectively to these changes.

Aims & Objectives

  • Update and collate baseline data on the character, management and threats to the built heritage in the AONB
  • Raise awareness and appreciation of the historic built environment and promote sustainable management
  • Equip and train local heritage volunteers and community members in the techniques of building recording
  • Form a core group to research and record industrial non-domestic buildings (mills, forges, farm buildings etc), non-listed dwellings and community buildings (chapels/ churches/ institutes) in the target areas
  • Record the existing character, management and threats to the AONB’s built heritage
  • Work with voluntary heritage and local history groups across the Island to these ends
  • Employ best practice in terms of community involvement and technical expertise
  • Investigate sustainable management and conservation priorities
  • Produce a leaflet/trail on the target area buildings and local character OR establish a demonstration day on lime mortar repairs for vernacular stone walls or other traditional industry.


Historic Lanes & Tracks Survey – [2006]

Currently the Society has been invited to participate in an Historic Lanes & Tracks survey by the County Archaeology Service, as part of its HEAP project, or Historic Environment Action Plan. This involves a two-fold approach, a desktop survey researching historic records and maps, as well as a survey of historic lanes and trackways out in the field.

This is a potentially long-term project with opportunities for interested Society members to be involved at every stage


The BSBI ‘Local Change’ project. 2003/4

The project was part of a National scheme by the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) to check the flora of squares sampled in 1987-88 and called then the ‘Monitoring Scheme’. A regular pattern of OS National grid squares were surveyed by BSBI recorders all over the country. Further information is available from the BSBI website

We surveyed a single two kilometre square on the Island (SZ57J). An area between the village of Whitwell, which is in a valley of the Southern Downs, and the summit of Stenbury Down. A largely west facing valley side with varied stratigraphy and an interesting range of habitats.

Farming is mostly arable/grass ley and some interesting plants turned up here, an arable subspecies of Fool’s Parsley (Aethusa cynapium ssp agrestis) proved quite common. Small Quaking-grass (Briza minor) was something of a surprise, in a field corner, and Corn Parsley (Petroselinum segetum) which is an uncommon arable weed was found on the chalk at the crumbling edge of a footpath with other scarce plants, in a probably relict habitat. Mousetail (Myosurus minimus), a buttercup though not looking like one, on calcareous wet clay in a field entrance, was a particularly good find. The record extends to the south and east its known range on the Island.

Stenbury Manor’s ponds and the damp field below Nettlecombe gave us most of the aquatic and wetland species, like Blinks (Montia fontana), and Water Whorl-grass (Catabrosa aquatica). Hedgerows and small copses had a good suite of typical woodland species and a farm materials storage enclosure and the lane to it were the source of most of our ‘alien’ records.

Roving onto the rich sheepwalks of Stenbury and Appuldurcombe Downs many characteristic chalkland flowers were seen, but Squinancywort (Asperula cynanchica ssp cynanchica) eluded us. It was last recorded on Stenbury Down in 1998.

An interesting record from the rather acid clay-with-flints Downs top was Spring Vetch (Vicia lathyroides) a very uncommon and easily overlooked species.

Total number of species recorded = 427
of which:-
192 were refound
213 were gains
22 were lost
of which real losses might amount to 14 species, 12 of these native.

Margaret Black made 59 records, including
Wilson’s Honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)
Sowbread (Cyclamen hederifolium)
Garden Grape-hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Anne Marston made 415 records, including
Scented Mayweed (Matricaria recutita)
Yellow Archangel (Lamiastrum galeobdolon ssp montanum)
Hairy Buttercup (Ranunculus sardous)
Corn Parsley (Petroselinum segetum)
Spring Vetch (Vicia lathyroides)

Colin and Jillie Pope made 120 records, including
Mousetail (Myosurus minimus)
Water Whorlgrass (Catabrosa aquatica)
Long-stalked Cranesbill (Geranium columbinum)
White Mustard (Sinapis alba)

The Botany Section made 462 records, including
Small-flowered Buttercup (Ranunculus parviflorus)
Blinks (Montia fontana)
Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)

Chris Lipscombe’s Access Section made 28 records, including
Sea Mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum s.l.)

[Google Earth view of LC square]
Aerial view from the west of the survey area. © Google Earth
[map of LC square]
The area we looked at. Whitwell is in the south-west corner.
[View west over Week Farm from Stenbury Down]
View west over Week Farm from Stenbury Down © GT
[Botany meeting at Stenbury]
Botany meeting at Stenbury © CP
[Mousetail (Myosurus minimus), found during ‘Local Change’]
Mousetail (Myosurus minimus ), found during ‘Local Change’ © CP

The BSBI Hybrids project – 2006

Fragrant Evening Primrose(Oenothera stricta), St Helen's Duver. The genus is genetically very complex and readily forms hybrid swarms. © GT

Fragrant Evening Primrose(Oenothera stricta), St Helen’s Duver. The genus is genetically very complex and readily forms hybrid swarms. © GT

Sharp-toothed Mint (Mentha x villosonervata) on Wroxall Down. The hybrid of Spear Mint (Mentha spicata) and Horse Mint (Mentha longifolia) © GT

Sharp-toothed Mint (Mentha x villosonervata) on Wroxall Down. The hybrid of Spear Mint (Mentha spicata) and Horse Mint (Mentha longifolia) © GT

The vice-county census catalogue, published recently, listed all the hybrids recorded from the Island. Some of these we would still like to know more about.

To see the VCCC list please click here

Over the course of the project a number of records were made of Willow, Willowherb, Orache and Mint hybrids, some of them new to the Island.

A list of hybrids about which we need more information:-

Centaurea x moncktonii
Cirsium x forsteri
Epilobium x subhirsutum
Euphorbia x pseudovirgata
Festuca arundinacea x Lolium multiflorum
Larix x marschlinsii
Mimulus x robertsii
Petunia x hybrida
Populus x jackii
Ranunculus x segretii
Rosa x andrzejowskii
Rumex x ogulinensis
Rumex x schulzei
Rumex x weberi
Salicornia pusilla x ramosissima
Sorbus aucuparia x intermedia
Ulmus x vegeta
Viola canina x lactea
Viola x bavarica



Neolithic Farming – [Aug 2005]

Ploughing with a Neolithic Ard © MC

Ploughing with a Neolithic Ard © MC

The Society was invited to join an exciting project called “The Island’s First Farmers”. This was the brainchild of Joy Verrinder, Museum Projects Education Officer based at Carisbrooke Castle Museum. The project aimed to cultivate a small area of land, grow a primitive wheat and ultimately bake a loaf of bread – using only Neolithic-type tools and technology!

A full set of replica flint farming tools (based on actual Isle of Wight finds) were produced and an early type of plough constructed, and ‘human oxen’ then used this “ard” to plough a field which was subsequently planted with ancient wheat and flax, and the crop in due course harvested using an ancient sickle. Other activities included making clay pots and firing them in a primitive-style kiln, and weaving coppiced hazel to make a hurdle fence. We also experimented with making rope from nettles, antler carving, and dyeing wool with lichen.