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Catch up with all the hard work from the Natural England’s Somerset National Nature Reserves team with their latest newsletter covering April to June.

This issue includes news about species surveys, brush cutting and white admirals alongside wildlife highlights from Ospreys to Otters. There is a special article which covers Habitat Management for the Argent and Sable Moth, and events updates with details of up and coming activities.

Don’t forget you can now own your very own Shapwick Heath NNR FSC guide which is packed with information about the reserve and full colour pictures for some iconic species of flora and fauna to look out for. Details of how to purchase a copy are at the end of the newsletter.

To download your free PDF copy of the newsletter please click here.

 Shapwick Heath NNR Field Studies GuideShapwick Heath NNR Field Studies Guide


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A new ebook, launched to showcase the county of Somerset, is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Compiled by renowned photographer Ian Brodie on behalf of Visit Somerset, ‘Visit Somerset: History and Heritage’ exhibits Somerset as a wonderful destination to visit, displaying in stunning imagery all that the area has to offer: fascinating attractions, captivating vistas, amazing coastal views and much more.  The Avalon Marshes features in the section on The Levels with a focus on the nature reserves at Shapwick Heath and Westhay Moor as well heritage sites such as the Abbot’s Fish House, Glastonbury Abbey and the Sweet Track.

With over 750 images, in-depth touring information, handy hints and maps the ebook is free to download to your PC, or as an app to your chosen device.

Page 169 of the Visit Somerset E-Book; image shows view looking down the South Drain on Shapwick Heath National Nature ReservePhotographer and author Ian Brodie was behind the lens for the Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook and Cameras in Narnia, and unveiled the ebook at the tourism association’s spring conference on Friday May 6 before its official launch at the Houses of Parliament on Somerset Day May 11th 2016.

Ian has said

“The seven months I spent in Somerset were pure adventure. Every day out photographing was a treasure.”


“I fell in love with The Levels. It is an area of unexpected beauty. Walking along a path with the rustling of reeds on one side and distant views of the magic of Avalon peeping through trees on the other is quite spectacular. We arrived at a bird hide and expected to spend a moment there. An hour later we were still there, the only humans in sight, watching the sun and clouds play over the water of The Levels.”


“The people of Somerset are so proud of their county. This was evident every time I went out to photograph. They would ask what I was doing and why – when I told them about their wonderful county you could see how proud they were, that it was about to be shared world-wide.”


The ebook is available to download for free by clicking here

Alternatively you can read it online here


Visit Somerset logo

Image credits and copyright: Visit Somerset and Ian J Brodie

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The South West Heritage Trust’s historic replica buildings have seen lots of action since our last update, including their first public open days and group visits. The scaffolding from the outside of the Romano-British dining room has been removed and the box flue tiles put in place completing the hypocaust. The Anglo Saxon longhall shingle roofing continues and another stained glass window has been added; there is proof that coloured glass was made at Glastonbury Abbey during the Saxon period. The design for this glass is based on one from Jarrow, and the decorative lead strip on evidence from Jarrow’s twin foundation – Monkwearmouth.

Reproduction Romano British box flues, Anglo Saxon Glass, Anglo Saxon Roof Shingles.

The Avalon Marshes Young Wardens joined the Hands on Heritage volunteers on Wednesday June 1st.  They began by laying some of the course aggregate that makes the  floor-base for the Anglo Saxon longhall. The group also washed finds from the recent archaeological excavation at Beckery Chapel and then continued works on the fireplace.

Young Wardens working on the reproduction buildings at the Avalon Marshes.

On Sunday June 5th, at the Avalon Marshes open day, the buildings were bought to life.  There were re-enactors from a Viking living history (acting as Saxons), guided tours and Hands on Heritage volunteers demonstrating traditional woodworking skills.  This proved a huge hit with the 300 or so visitors we had that day and shows the potential of the buildings as a key element of the Avalon Marshes Centre in years to come.

Demonstrations and living history at the Avalon Marshes day.

The following Saturday on the 11th June our buildings were invaded by MAYA (Mick Astons Young Archaeologists Somerset), who spent the morning making pots and casting pewter. In the afternoon they split into factions and fought small battles as Celts and Romans.  You can see one of the epic battles on our YouTube page – Avalon Marshes YouTube

Mick Aston’s Young Archaeologists getting their Hands on Heritage.

Tuesday 15th June was a ground breaking day too. Not only did our first official school group visit but the hypocaust was lit for the first time. The images show that the box flues are drawing well and by the end of the day the floor of the Romano British dining room had reached a toasty warm 40°C.

The replica buildings have been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund through the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership.

The Romano British building hypocaust when lit with smoke drawing through the box flue tiles.

The Romano British building hypocaust when lit with smoke drawing through the box flue tiles.