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Horfield Common


Approximately 17 Ha in area, Horfield Common is one of the most popular public green spaces in Bristol and is part of one of the highest elevations in the City; at its highest point (top of Kelleway Ave) being about 87 m above sea level. It is a very exposed, hilly site and consists mainly large expanses of short grass with lines of free standing trees (typical parkland). Habitats include: grassland, meadows (annual and perennial), scrub, copses, hedgerows, ponds/ditches, cultivated/garden (Ardargh) along with many micro habitats such as rotting logs, stumps etc.

The name Horfield derives from Nordic, 'Hor' roughly translates to muddy; referring to a useless field in which nothing can be cultivated. This is a very accurate description as a few hundred years ago the area was once marshy wet pasture with a series of ponds scattered throughout. The soil type is loamy clay which after digging to a depth of about 20 cm is thick solid yellow clay. As a result of its 'unworkable state', the land was farmed with livestock such as cattle and sheep. Per farm, one horse, or two cows, or three yearlings (1 - 2 years old) were allowed to graze the land (at its peak as many as '54 yearling beasts' may have been grazed throughout the Common) which was surrounded by 7 farm houses. Remnants of the past still remain today. At the beginning of the 1900s shortly after many of the houses were built, the land was converted into public fields by digging a series of drainage systems throughout. It remains to this day as common land.

Although largely biodiversity poor being constantly disturbed by the activity of humans in particular dog walkers! Some quite special wildlife manages to make frequent appearances such as Sparrow Hawks - often seen using a wall running across the length of the Common for cover when hunting. Very occasionally Peregrine Falcons may fly over and have even been known to land - preying on the high quantity of Pigeons. Two species of Bat are commonly seen (Common and Soprano Pipistrelle's) along with most garden birds such as Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, House Sparrows etc. In the Summer, Swifts can be seen darting around in the sky feeding on insects - especially flying Ants. The large quantity of free standing trees - mainly Common Lime and other standing objects such as benches, has led to a huge variety of Lichen, Moss and Fungi species. The most biodiverse area on Horfield Common is the cemetery/churchyard around Horfield St Trinity Parish Church (which is over 600 years old. The first evidence points that the site may have been in use for ceremonial reasons since the year 637) as it is wild and less touched by the public.


Here is a map showing this place:

Locations within Horfield Common