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The Knapp

Friends of Castle Pulverbatch

The Knapp

Only earthworks remain of the castle at Pulverbatch, but ‘the Knapp’ is a well preserved and important medieval motte and double bailey, and is a well-loved and visited place in the village.  Built in the 1100s, it was only used defensively for a hundred years or so.  The wooden structures including a small tower on the motte and domestic buildings in the inner and outer baileys are all long gone, though traces have been found recently in underground surveys.  The Knapp is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and registered Common land as well as a county Wildlife Site.  With a long history of use for village events, it has also suffered at times from damage and neglect.

The Friends of Castle Pulverbatch look after the Knapp on behalf of the Parish Council, but the land has no known owner.  Since the 1990s when English Heritage encouraged active management to prevent the monument becoming overgrown, grass and scrub cutting by volunteers has continued at varying levels.  With support and grants from various organisations over the years, the Friends group has kept going and since 2014 grass cutting has become more consistent.

The Knapp is managed mainly to preserve its archaeology, but also for wildlife and public enjoyment.  Happily these interests are all served by a seasonal grass cut along with control of some of the scrub, bracken, brambles, etc.  Cutting back each year prevents the deep roots of bracken and trees disturbing archaeological remains under the soil, and also helps to maintain a stable grass layer which protects the monument and allows the earthworks to be seen and explored.

Cutting in late summer is also good for wildlife, as plants can complete their annual cycle of growing, flowering and setting seed before mowing takes place.  Insects and small mammals like the long grass, in turn supporting birds.  The cuttings must be raked up and removed or they will smother next year’s growth.  We usually burn them or have them taken away.  The Knapp is good for wildlife because of its mosaic of good habitats, including short and tall grass, scrub and trees.  The sparse dry acid grassland on the thin soils of some of the steep slopes is important for plants such as Shepherd’s Cress, Upright Chickweed, Bird’s-foot, Annual Knawel and Knotted Clover.  Slow-worm and Common Lizard are also found.

The Wokkon

Down the bank from the Knapp a path leads into an adjoining area of common land called the Wokkon (derived from the old English for oak).  This is a steep bank, with a path under the trees by a small stream at the bottom, leading up steps through the dense bracken on the middle slopes and then back through some open areas and scrub at the top.  Especially with its gorgeous bluebells in May, the Wokkon is always a lovely walk and is a tucked away and special place.  Management by the Friends is focussed on keeping the path in good order and maintaining the relatively natural and wild feel of the Wokkon.

What you can do to help

•    Enjoy the Knapp and the Wokkon!  Walking the paths regularly helps to keep them open.  Walking different ways across the Knapp helps to spread any wear and tear and avoid erosion.

•    Help keep the site tidy by not dropping litter and maybe picking some up.  Please clear up your dog mess.

•    Join us on a Friends task session to help with cutting, raking, bonfires or path work.

•    Encourage people to understand the value of the site.

•    Tell us if you see anything you are not happy about.

To get in touch with the Friends of Castle Pulverbatch, please contact the Chairman Paul Taylor or the Secretary Phil Holden.

email: FOCP@yahoo.com