Tree Hunting on Marsden Moor

Millstone Edge Close Moss Marsden Moor hike

I stumbled across a tree stump a couple of weeks ago, which was remarkable, as the higher parts of the Marsden Moor estate are now a treeless landscape. That wasn’t the case 6000 or 7000 years ago. I know that because peat is everywhere; testament to the fibrous disintegration of tree trunk and branch, leaf and root as well as grasses and moss.

I’ve seen bits of wood sticking out of some of the peat channels and cloughs during my wanderings over various parts of Marsden Moor. Some of it so well persevered through lack of oxygen, buried feet below the surface, that you can tell it’s birch by the still-visible white bark. Those branches or roots are occasionally exposed through the action of water and peat bog creep.

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Ram tracking on March Hill

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling

I’ve been reading up (* see some sources at the bottom of the post) on the mesolithic hunter gatherers who spent some of their time on March Hill on Marsden Moor and this weekend seemed a good time to walk back up there for a mooch about.

I wasn’t planning on doing any digging, from what I gather there was enough well-intentioned disturbance in the 20s and 30s, so much so that it made for a trickier research challenge for latter day archaeologists.  Best leave that to the professionals. I’m fascinated though by this hill that I can see from the front of our house, away in the distance . But not in a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind way, I haven’t started sculpting it in mashed potato or anything.

When you stand on March Hill and look around at what is now pretty much a 360º vista of moorland it’s compelling to imagine the valleys and ‘moors’ covered in a forest some 7000-5000 years ago, sheltering aurochs (wild cattle), boar, deer etc before it all transitioned to peat.

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