Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Silbury Hill seeds

Seed identified from seed and fruit remains from the old land surface and the turf stack (1136 species examined (D.Williams) Taken from; SACRED MOUND, HOLY RINGS by Alastair Whittle.

As Silbury Hill is in the public eye at the moment because of the work undertaken to fill and make good the terrible damage it has sustained over the years by tunnelling into its heart, I thought to list the great number of plants that were found from the primary mound.
The thought was provoked by something someone said on the radio, it went thus, to be always dismayed by the terrible encroachment of modern civilisation on our wild and natural places it is well to remember that even the tallest building is built on soil, but that within the soil there can still be found the seeds of yesteryear. This spark of hope, as motorways slice through our archaeological inheritance may be small, but the intrinsic small parts of history still remain and it is well to rejoice in such things.
What makes the list below so interesting is the commonplace nature of the flowers found. Short turf is illustrated by the presence of bugle, trefoil and ground ivy, a pretty tapestry of blue and yellow snaking through the grass, "Colonisers" such as nettles and rosebay willowherb (fireweed) show disturbed land, the nettle always growing, as it does today, on old sites that have a rich nitrogenous soil. Rosebay is supposed to colonise after a fire, so maybe there was burning of trees. Hazel and yew are represented as well, hazel that most useful of tree for nuts and hurdling material, and slow growing yew, now mostly found in churchyards but then it would have been wild in the forests. Its stately grace dark and menacing against the other forms of trees. Water is represented in the sedges and crowfoot, with the damp edged plants such as buttercups. Stitchwort and red campion are wildflowers well suited to growing near hedges, whilst bedstraw and scabious are flowers of the open aspect.

Ajuga reptans Bugle - blue flowers in spikes, slightly bronzed leaves
Arenaria serpyllifolia Thyme leafed sandwort - small rough greyish annual with white flowers
Centaurea sp (cf.C.nigra) Common knapweed - medium to tall purple hardheads
Cerastium holosteoides Fr Common mouse-ear - weedy white flower
Chamaenerion augustifolium Rosebay-willowherb - large rose or purple coloured flowers
Chenopodium album Fat-hen - spiky flowers, mealy leaves, and of course edible
Corylus avellana LHazel - catkin flowers and nuts
Galium sp.(cf.aparine L) Bedstraw
Glechoma hederacea - ground ivy - ground creeping, heart shaped leaves with soft purple flowers
Lapsana communis LNipplewort - leaves toothed, flowerheads yellow
Leontondon hispidus Rough hawkbit -deeply toothed leaves, yellow flowers (dandelion like)Linum catharticum Fairy flax -( interesting calcerous) fragile plant with small white flowers lotus corniculatus Common birds - foot trefoil, flowers yellow to orange yellow
Montia fontana (vr.chrondosperma) Blinks - small inconspicious white flowered plant
Plantago Lanceolata- Ribwort plantain - leaves linear lanceolate, flowers brown
Polygonum aviculare Knotgrass - silvery leaf, flowers greenish with pink tinge
Polygala sp. ( cf. P vulgaris) Common milkwort - leaves not bitter tasting, flowers bell-like, blue, pink or white
Poterium sanguisorba Salad burnet - upper flowers with reddish styles, lower with yellow anther (edible)
Prunella vulgaris Self-heal - low to short, leaves oval to diamond shaped, flowers deep purple-blue, occasionally pink or white
Ranunculus sp(R aquatilis) Common water-crowfoot - floating water plant with white flowers
Ranunculus acris - LMeadow buttercup
Ranunculus repens - Creeping buttercup
Rubus fruiticosus L sensu lato
Blackberry bramble Sambucus nigra
Common elder - white elderflower
Scabiosa columburaia - Small scabious - soft purple flowers
Silene dioica - Red campion - flowers bright rose pink
Stachys sp (sp.S.Palustris) - Marsh woundwort - Flowers purple, whorls forming a dense pyramidal shape down stalk
Stellaria graminea - Lesser stitchwort - straggly weak branches, white star flowers

Taraxavum sp (cf.T.Laevigatum) - dandelion
Taxus baccata - Yew
Urtica diocia - Stinging nettle
Viola -Violet

Uncertain identification
Composita fruit stones
Cyperaceae small berries

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