How it is managed ?
North Meadow is managed as Lammas land, Lamas describes a particular type of land tenure. Under this management regime, the owner, traditionally the lord of the manor in which the meadow lies, divides the meadow into parcels of land referred to as ‘lots’ or ‘doles’ He then sells the rights to the hay crop to local farmers who are responsible for harvesting the hay in each allotment.
After the hay crop has been gathered, the meadow becomes common pasture and the livestock of certain commoners are entitled to graze the entire meadow. Traditionally, the commonable rights begin on 12 August, also known as Lammas day, and end around Candelmas at the beginning of February when once again the meadow is laid up for hay.
As far as is known, this system of land management has survived relatively unchanged for the past 800 years. A long continuity of past agricultural management has given rise to a very diverse and interesting floral community. The documentation of land use history of the reserve is of great value in understanding ecological relationships and provides an unusually comprehensive body of background information against which current scientific studies can effectively be interpreted, and future management planned
Nowadays the hay crop grown during the spring and early summer is sold to local farmers. The hay is cut after the 1 July when the wildflowers have set seed and has to be removed by 12 August so that it may be grazed. In some years hay meadow seed is harvested for use in grassland restoration projects.
During the winter the Rivers Thames and Churn frequently flood the meadow. Flooding is vital to the growth of many plants and helps maintain the great variety of species at North Meadow.
Natural England has owned most of the meadow since the early 1970’s and works closely with Cricklade Manorial Court who appoint a Hayward to supervise the grazing of authorised animals on the meadow and to collect the grazing fees to ensure traditional management continues. Today the people of Cricklade are involved with the meadow in other ways as well, through local groups and volunteer teams carrying out surveys and practical work.