Broad low lying arable vale. Balanced yet simple
A regular pattern of medium sized fields
with enclosure by hedgerows of limited species and
few hedgerow trees. Variations include pre-enclosure
hay meadows and pasture near Wragby, and the drained
landscape north of Brigg.
Variable woodland cover; little in the central
and northern clays. Exceptions include coniferous
plantations on both the Coversands, the sands and
gravels around Woodhall Spa, and most notably the
Central Lincolnshire Limewoods between Wragby and
Sparse nucleated settlement throughout the
Traditional building materials predominantly
local brick and limestone from adjoining Lincolnshire
Rich in ridge and furrow, and deserted medieval
Wolds scarp strong visual boundary to east,
distant views to Lincoln Cathedral in west.
area is a quiet low-lying vale divided into two
parts by a central watershed. The northern half
drains through the River Ancholme into the Humber.
This section is clearly bounded to the east by the
scarp slope of the Lincolnshire Wolds, and to the
west by the relatively less distinctive dip slope
of the Lincolnshire Edge. The southern section of
the Vale drains to the River Witham and ultimately
the Wash. The western boundary below Lincoln is
formed by the River Witham and the Fenland beyond.
To the south the catch-water drains for the Fens
mark the limit of the Vale; while to the east the
Vale rises up towards the south-western edge of
the Lincolnshire Wolds.
The central core of the Vale between Brigg and Wragby
comprises an open yet balanced agricultural landscape
with large skies and cloudscapes. Arable crops predominate
but are interspersed with pasture on the heavier
clays. Hedgerows are typically single species hawthorn
to roadsides and more mixed between fields. There
are few individual field trees. Settlement is dispersed
and sparse, with views occasionally punctuated by
an individual farmhouse.
Three variations to this predominant landscape type
are present. Firstly, the artificially drained Carrs
north and south of Brigg. Much of the land is only
a metre or so above sea level. A series of drains,
dykes and the strongly embanked New River Ancholme
drain this flat open landscape, accentuated by remnant
carr woodland. Secondly, around Wragby and Bardney
the arable landscape is further broken up by a significant
number of medium sized woodlands, known locally
as the Central Lincolnshire Limewoods or Bardney
Forest. Some are ancient, while others are more
recent plantations. Third are the lighter areas
of wind-blown and fluvial sands which occur in three
locations at Elsham, Market Rasen and Woodhall Spa.
The wind-blown soils to the north have been extensively
planted with conifers, while near Coningsby and
Tattershall the fluvial sands and gravels have undergone
Lincolnshire Clay Vale has resulted from a combination
of erosion of the soft Upper Jurassic clays and
deposition of chalky till to the east. Much of the
Vale comprises seasonally waterlogged loams and
clay grading to deeper calcareous loams, with fine
calcareous loams towards Horncastle and the Lincolnshire
Wolds. The resulting landform is very gently undulating.
The River Ancholme is the most significant river
which has been improved to form a straight course
from Bishopbridge to Ferriby Sluice on the Humber.
The watercourse is fed by a series of becks up to
Brigg, and then by the drained Carrs. Much of the
Ancholme floodplain was formed from marine alluvium
during the post-glacial period with smaller areas
of peat inland. To the south, Barlings Eau and the
River Bain drain to the River Witham.
The tracts of Coversands to the east of the Vale
overlie the Jurassic and glacial clays, and dominate
the resultant vegetation. Here the deep and very
acidic soils have been extensively planted with
Corsican and Scots Pine by the Forestry Commission
between World War 1 and World War Two. These soils
are still subject to windblow where cultivated.
and Cultural Influences
archaeological remains in the Ancholme Valley include
the Appleby boat. This ancient longboat, c.11,000
BC, is the second oldest such vessel found in the
world. In its time, the north Vale would have been
a complex of inter-tidal creeks and carr vegetation.
Brigg developed as an early crossing point, and
was a prosperous market town by the 13th century.
The Vale is important for the study of the smaller
Iron Age and Romano-British settlements in the transition
between the two periods. The principal archaeological
remains of interest are the medieval sites; particularly
the deserted and shrunken medieval villages, like
Spridlington and the abbey ruins such as Bardney
and Tupholme. Extensive though not entirely successful
land drainage took place in the Ancholme Valley
in the 17th century. By the early 18th century most
of the land had been enclosed. Recent agricultural
intensification has altered the pattern of landuse,
although the appearance has changed little over
Horncastle developed a nationally famous horse fair
which ran from the 13th century to 1948. Revesby
to the south of Horncastle was the home of botanist
Sir Joseph Banks (1743-1820). Banks travelled the
south Pacific with Captain Cook and was president
of the Royal Society for 42 years.
Tourism and recreation has developed over the last
century on the lighter sandy soils. Lincolnshire's
only racecourse is found at Market Rasen, reflected,
perhaps in modern times by the wildlife park at
Elsham Hall on an area of blown sand. To the, gravel
extraction at Coningsby has created a series of
lakes with both recreational and nature conservation
after-uses. Following the discovery of medicinal
waters in the Victorian period, Woodhall Spa developed
into a small inland resort set in the pine and birch
woods. Coningsby Airfield provided a base for Lancaster
Bomber Squadrons in World War Two.
settlement pattern is typically dispersed and sparse.
Villages have remained small while a few small towns
have grown, including Brigg, Market Rasen and Horncastle;
the latter originated as a Roman town. Local clay
provides the major building material with most traditional
buildings constructed of brick and pantile. The
dominance of brick is most distinctively portrayed
in Tattershall Castle (National Trust) built c.1440
for Ralph Cromwell, Lord Treasurer of England. This
majestic, yet stocky, keep tower is a fine example
of medieval brickwork, and provides a strong landmark
amid the restored mineral sites across the adjacent
Local stone from the Lincolnshire Wolds including
Claxby Ironstone and Tealby Limestone is seen in
some of the churches close to the Wolds around Market
Rasen whereas Spilsby Sandstone is found in churches
contrasts in landcover within the area strongly
reflect the patterns of soils and drainage. The
undulating clayland comprises medium sized fields
dating from 18th century enclosure. Hedges, mainly
clipped, enclose fields of winter cereals, oilseed
rape, sugar beet and grazing land.
South of Wragby the Bardney Forest comprises a mix
of larger arable fields and a relatively high density
of woodlands. These woods are nationally important
for the concentration of small-leaved lime. Sections
of these ancient woodlands are managed as coppice
with standards. Some of the old parish boundaries
are marked by older mixed hedgerows. Chambers Farm
Wood, managed by the Forestry Commission, comprises
a wide mix of woodland types. This sub-area also
contains pre-enclosure hay meadows and relatively
more livestock, like those at Minting.
There are few estates or parklands associated with
the Vale. The notable exceptions are to the south
at Scrivelsby Park and Revesby Abbey, close to the
edge of the Wolds. Lanes are typically twisting
and narrow, with most of the major routes running
Closer to the Humber in the Ancholme Valley, fields
are more rectilinear, relating to the patterns of
drainage dykes. Hedgerows are sparse, and give way
to occasional carr woodland, copses, drainage ditches
and isolated willows.
The Coversands of Elsham and Market Rasen have a
variety of heath habitats, for example at Wrawby
Moor SSSI, and Willingham Forest woods which also
include regeneration of birch scrub. Around Woodhall
Spa, once an area of predominantly open heath, extensive
conifer plantations, scrub oak and denser roadside
hedgerows are more prevalent. Sand and gravel extraction
along the Lower Bain valley continues to take place
while old workings have partly been restored for
recreation. Here the landscape is more densely settled,
with scattered smallholdings, isolated gravel extraction,
and the RAF base at Coningsby.
Agricultural intensification and farm amalgamation
causing decline in mixed farming, an increase in
field sizes, loss of hedgerows and hedgerow trees.
Creation of extensive conifer woodlands on
Coversands (now halted).
Reduction in grasslands, hay meadows and
ancient pasture by ploughing, drainage and expansion
of settlements. Continued threat to meadows, ridge
and furrow and archaeological sites.
Partial neglect of Central Lincolnshire Limewoods.
Intrusive built developments including M180
and power lines.
Extensive sand and gravel extraction to Coningsby
and Tattershall area.
Hedgerow reinstatement, including gapping up and
tree planting would redefine structure and enhance
linkage between woodlands.
The creation of new woodland on open clay
farmland, where no conflict with archaeology, is
important. The Carrs to north need water tolerant
species such as alder and willow. The central Lincolnshire
limewoods need continued management including coppicing.
A balance needs to be achieved on the Coversands
between conifer plantations and open heath habitats
with conservation benefits.
Opportunities exist for wet grazing, washlands,
new salt and freshwater habitats in response to
rising sea levels between Brigg and Humber.
Visual containment of existing infrastructure
and sprawling settlements is important, by planting
of raw edges and emphasis on use of traditional
Restoration schemes in sand and gravel areas
near Coningsby would provide linkage between areas
and re-create more open heath habitats.
The future management of meadowland and pasture
should be considered, particularly where they contain
ridge and furrow and other archaeological sites.
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