Intricate pieces of art that tell the story of the history, wildlife and people of heathlands have been designed for an educational trail in the South Downs National Park.
Inspired by stories from communities and drawing upon sources such as poet Alfred Tennyson and a 394-year-old local map, award-winning sculptor Graeme Mitcheson has created seven bespoke stone carvings for the South Downs Heathland Trail.
The trail will link seven heathland sites in the National Park to tell the story of why heaths are so important — as a rich haven for biodiversity, including rare insects and all 12 of Britain’s native reptiles and amphibians.
The Heathlands Reunited team are working with the RSPB, National Trust, Hampshire County Council and Sussex Wildlife Trust to link up heaths at Wiggonholt, Stedham Common, Lavington Plantation, Shortheath Common, Graffham Common, Black Down and Woolbeding.
Graeme has spent the past six months working with trained volunteers who collected oral histories and carried out archive research with the local community, including groups and schoolchildren. “Each and every piece has been inspired by the heritage of local communities,” said Graeme. “They will aim to convey their unique stories for future generations to enjoy.”
It is hoped the seven carvings will be in place by late Spring. Find out how you can play your part today to save the heaths through the Heathlands Reunited project at www.southdowns.gov.uk/heathlands-reunited
Join in on social media with #HelpTheHeaths
Image: Proposed plans for the ‘Wiggonholt — Cricket’ and ‘Lavington — Lizard’ sculptures as part of the exhibition.