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The Avalon Marshes
News! Avalon Marshes Festival 2014 starts on July 12 Click title to open
The Avalon Marshes is a vibrant, working landscape, celebrated for its rich wildlife, heritage and culture, valued and enjoyed by all. It is framed by the Mendip Hills to the north and the Poldens ridge to the south and comprises the land of the Brue Valley beneath the 10 metre contour and includes the higher land of Glastonbury town, the history and influence of which has played a major role in the area. Described by many as being the most evocative part of Somerset, the Avalon Marshes has a distinct atmospheric feel and character.
The Avalon Marshes is a spectacular and beautiful wetland area with lush vegetation and a high level of wildlife. The floodplain is covered by peat deposits up to 8m deep, sitting on top of earlier silts and clay. The acid peat soils of much of the valley support a rare grassland flora and fauna. Glastonbury is the highest of a series of ‘islands’ within the marshes. The area has been constantly exploited, altered and managed by humans over the last 10,000 years leaving behind a uniquely rich archaeological heritage miraculously preserved in the waterlogged peat and on the islands. On a map the marshes are a wash of blue as a result of the myriad of ditches, rhynes and waterways that have re-claimed the land through drainage.
The soundscape is over-whelming, dominated by many layers of bird song with occasional silences revealing the remoteness of the marshes. Populated by small farms, the fields are home to many rare breeds of cattle and sheep including Ruby Devonshire Reds and Highland Longhorns.
As a level landscape, cycling and walking are popular. By escaping the car, visitors discover the lush greenery and ever-present water as well as solitude. The trained eye can spot features and evidence of the history of the landscape that has created what is present today: peat troughs cut by hand, rhynes, abandoned railway lines and canals leading to Glastonbury.
The Avalon Marshes is justly beloved by the people that know it and is an unparalleled focal point combining huge abundance of wildlife with cultural heritage. It is sought out as a place for escape from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities and for its access to nature.
The Landscape Partnership is an ambitious and visionary scheme for the Avalon Marshes and has been awarded a £1,772,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The support from HLF plus further local income raises a total of £2.5 million to be invested in landscape, heritage and training projects which celebrate the area’s rich 6,500 year history. The Scheme runs from 2012 to the end of 2015.
The partnership is made up of English Heritage, Environment Agency, Hawk & Owl Trust, Natural England, RSPB, Somerset County Council and Somerset Wildlife Trust. The project also employs six staff who are based at the Avalon Marshes Centre (contact details below).
The scheme also includes an annual festival. The purpose of the Festival is to encourage people to discover what makes this wetland landscape in Somerset such a special place: a meeting point of wildlife; buried archaeology and stories of the past; sustainably farmed foods; wetland crafts and cultural heritage and arts.
This year's festival starts on July 12 to find out more please click on this link: Avalon Marshes Festival 2014.
The Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership is a collaboration of conservation focused organisations working with local people, stakeholders and communities to deliver projects and activities that boost and enhance the wildlife and cultural heritage in the Avalon Marshes.
Working in partnership to celebrate the landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Avalon Marshes.
A1 To conserve and restore key heritage features and assets for environmental benefits and future generations.
A2 To tell and celebrate the complete story of the landscape including the future of the wetland, through the participation and enthusiasm of local communities, volunteers and visitors.
A3 Sustainably improve access and visitor experiences across the Avalon Marshes, increasing opportunities for exploration, learning and understanding.
A4 Embed skills and training in local community enthusiasts and volunteers for personal development, economic benefit and the long-term assistance to management and conservation of the landscape.
Phone - 01458 860556.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
We can be found at:
Avalon Marshes Centre, Shapwick Road, Westhay, Somerset, BA6 9TT
Scheme Manager Alex Sherman email@example.com
Commmunity Heritage Officer Tanya Camberwell firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer Development Officer Kevin Anderson email@example.com
Heritage Education Officer Amy Stone firstname.lastname@example.org
Finance Officer Trevor Lethaby email@example.com
Administration Officer Mike Woodhead firstname.lastname@example.org
The annual Avalon Marshes Festival is a celebration of the diversity of wildlife and the 10,000 years of cultural heritage of the wonderful “Avalon Marshes”. This is a vibrant, working landscape, celebrated for its rich wildlife, heritage and culture, valued and enjoyed by all.
The Festival will be returning bigger and better in 2014, running from Saturday 12th July to Sunday 27th July. It comprises of a wide range of activities and events which reflect this varied wildlife, history, archaeology, produce and landscape. Among the many highlights are a Roman themed family day, Chris Sperring MBE and Dr Richard Brunning taking us back to “when Beavers roamed the landscape”, the “Images of Avalon” photo exhibition, the Levels’ Best farmers market and canoe tours of a nature reserve.
The events are organised by the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership, its partner organisations, the local community and businesses. The festival kicks off with the Avalon Marshes Day on Saturday 12 July. This is a day of activities, tours, talks, exhibitions and more based at the Red Brick Building in Glastonbury. Following this there will be over a week of events in the wider Avalon Marshes; a great chance to explore, have fun and find out more. The Festival will be rounded off with a Wildlife Extravaganza and Family Picnic at Westhay Moor.
To see the full list of events and to find out how to get involved please open this link.
For something a little bit different, why not consider volunteering with us? We have opportunities for one-off volunteering or more regular activities, ranging from helping with the construction of replica historical buildings and artefacts, or surveying walking routes, to office-based activities such as photo-archiving or managing event bookings. If you are looking for skills to enhance your CV or just want to get involved in the wonderful Avalon Marshes, then we have something for you.
Below you will find volunteering opportunities that are currently available look out for regular updates. If you are interested please get in touch and we can provide more details:
The Hands on Heritage team will be building reconstructions of ancient buildings using traditional crafts and techniques. The Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods will be represented in this exciting project, through stone wall construction, lime mortaring, green timber frame woodworking, pottery making and firing, tile manufacture, wood turning and carving. We are particularly looking for craft or building skills, or anyone with an interest in archaeology, history and the environment.
Do you enjoy getting out into the countryside? We are looking for help to develop circular walks in the Avalon Marshes area. No specific skills or experience necessary, other than enthusiasm and respect for the surrounding landscape. This role could be fulfilled equally by a keen walker, family, dog-walker or group of people. You would walk specified routes, which are of varying lengths, and report back on your findings.
Do you have experience of Geocaching or setting-up and managing caches? This role is to assist in the siting of geocaches within the project area, including landowner liaison, updating online information relating to these caches. You would also help to identify appropriate sites by map reading and walking local footpath routes, and maintain the caches periodically.
The Avalon Marshes provide a rich source of learning opportunities that are being harnessed through a variety of new workshops and courses that are now available for schools, volunteers and the local community.
New for 2014, the following 60-70 minute workshops can be delivered at your school by staff of the AMLP:
YR-2 Peat Past and Present
What is peat? What stories does it tell about the Avalon Marshes? Pupils learn about the peat industry old and new, make a ‘ruckle’, and discover the impacts of the peat industry on the local area. Peat printing finishes the sessions.
Y2-3 Iron Age Marshes
How did people live in the Avalon Marshes in the Iron Age? Find out how life has changed in the area over time. Compare ancient and modern pottery, and make a simple coil pot.
Y3-4 Roman Mass Production Factory
How do we find out about the past? Be an experimental archaeologist and discover what the Romans did for us. Create a mass production line using moulds and prints.
Y5-6 Life in the Landscape
How have humans shaped the landscape? What impacts has this had on wildlife? Explore the habitats and wildlife of the area from the classroom, using maps and images.
We offer three free workshops to primary schools within 2 miles of our project area. A small charge applies to all other workshops. Contact Amy Stone to find out more and to book 01458 860 556
Wetland theatre and stories project
We are currency recruiting a facilitator to deliver an exciting theatre and storytelling project with local schools. Full details of the project will be finalised when the facilitator is recruited, however the project will involve 12 schools over three terms and include opportunities for families to experience the drama and stories, all linking to the natural and cultural heritage of the wetland landscape. Primary schools that would like to be considered for this fully-funded project should register their interest with Amy Stone . We expect a large response to this opportunity and regret that not all interested schools will be able to take part.
Y7-9 Team building and Geocaching (full day on a nature reserve)
Perfect for a new cohort of students, or at the end of the year during Activities Week, this fun and informal programme includes team building games, a Geocaching challenge, independent exploration and a mini Bioblitz. Charges apply.
The Avalon Marshes Partnership is keen to develop opportunities for secondary schools in the area, and would like to hear from interested teachers. We are able to pay schools for teachers’ time in spring 2014, to help develop resources linking to science, geography and history. Contact for more information.
We run a wide range of courses and workshops aimed at developing the skills of existing and potential volunteers with AMLP, and partner organisations. There are a range of sessions planned for 2014, including:
Full details can be found in the events section of our Facebook page
Our dig in Burtle last year gave an opportunity for dozens of students and members of the community to be archaeologists, and uncover a myriad of ancient artefacts. Our archaeological skills training aims to improve people’s understanding and appreciation of the heritage of the area, provide people with a new skill set, and give fieldwork experience to students to assist them towards further study or employment. This in turn will help to improve our understanding of the archaeological heritage of the Avalon Marshes. To receive up to date information on these opportunities please sign up to our mailing list at .
The AMLP is providing a series of short courses aimed at improving understanding and appreciation of traditional heritage crafts and building techniques. The courses are open to anyone who wants to try their hand at something new, but also aim to provide useful skills for volunteers assisting with the development of archaeological reconstructions.
Forthcoming workshops include:
Contact Marc Cox (Somerset County Council) on 01823 347435 to book your place.
The Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership has taken on two Environmental Conservation Apprentices who are spending 18 months rotating around Somerset Wildlife Trust, RSPB, Natural England and the Hawk and Owl Trust. They have enrolled at Bridgwater College who will accredit their qualifications. You can keep up to date with their progress via our Facebook page.