Nature Reserves

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Little Wittenham, South OxfordshireWebsiteStreet MapGoogle MapPhotos

Wittenham Clumps, Little Wittenham
Local Nature Reserve
Managed by:Northmoor Trust
OS grid reference:SU 563 926
Nearest postcode:OX14 4QZ
Usual work:Hedgelaying, scrub clearance

The site at Little Wittenham, commonly referred to at Wittenham Clumps, consists of two chalk hills, Castle Hill and Round Hill, in the parish of Little Wittenham. At around 400 feet, the site provides stunning views of the surrounding countryside and is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Wittenham Clumps is a mostly calcareous grassed with wooded clumps at the top of the hills, which were initially planted with beech trees in the 1740s giving the area a prominent appearance when seen from afar. Red kites and muntjac deer are often seen at the site. Wittenham Clumps is part of the 68 hectare Little Wittenham Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), noted as an important breeding site for great crested newts, along with other amphibians, dragonflies and damselflies.

Conservation Management

OCV have done numerous tasks at this site such as hedgelaying a hawthorn hedge around the base of one of the hills to contain livestock in the traditional way and to provide a valuable corridor for wildlife. Scrub clearance is also vital work to protect the chalkland habitat. The beach trees that give Wittenham Clumps their name are coming to the end of their lifespan of almost 300 years, and so mixed species are being planted to ensure the surivial of this landmark and the habitat that it provides

History

An Iron Age hillfort was sited on Castle hill at the boundary of three major Iron-Age tribal territories belonging to the Catuvellauni, Atrebates and Dobunni peoples. The site also contains Iron Age banks and ditches, along with evidence of a Romano-British house at the site complete with mosaic (tesserare) floors and painted wall plaster. Sir Martin Wood set up Oxford Instruments in his garden shed in Northmoor Road, North Oxford. His company became a world-leader in medical technology. In the 1980s he set up the Northmoor Trust to promote nature conservation through research, education and management of Little Wittenham.

Directions

Leave Oxford on the A4074 towards Wallingford and Reading. At the roundabout for Berinsfield turn right towards Abingdon. In Clifton Hampden take a left at the second set of traffic lights towards Long Wittenham, following the brown Project Timescape signs up to Long Wittenham. Then ignore the next Project Timescape sign which takes you a long way round and instead carry on across the crossroads in Long Wittenham following signs to Little Wittenham. Take a right at the T-junction and follow the road round the bend. There are two car parks, one at the Northmoor Trust and one closer to Wittenham Clumps, the latter being clearly sign posted as the second left on the descent of the hill.