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Wiltshire Community History

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Question Date :

Monday 4th July 2011 10:07

How do I get to see the rare snake's head fritilleries in Cricklade?

The Fritilleries are located in the North Meadow National Nature Reserve just north of Cricklade. Before 1930 snake's head fritilleries could be found in 27 countries and were widespread in Lowland England, particularly in meadows along the upper Thames valley. However today, due mainly to the intensification of agriculture since the 1940s and, locally, gravel extraction, very few suitable sites remain and the plants are now confined to just 12 meadows. North Meadow holds a high proportion of the British population, possibly as much as 80%.

The fritilleries flower in April and early May, however the meadow also holds other rare wild flowers which are a joy to behold. There is a bus from Cricklade, and parking within 300 yards. Access by road is best from the A419, take the turning to Cricklade, a few miles north of Swindon.

It is interesting to note that the effects of the Enclosure Acts was to shore up an arrangement which has protected the North Meadow to this day. The Act affecting the district, published in 1814, specified that the North Meadow (Normead) was to remain the property of the burgesses of Cricklade, and amending Act passed the following year defining its use and administration. The system it laid down is still followed, and left the town with a 110 acre meadow which is famous for its management system and the wild flowers that grow there.

Further information about the North Meadow can be found on the English Nature website http://www.english-nature.org.uk/

“Cricklade” by Diana Holmes, Sutton Publishing, 2002, ISBN 0750904941



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