Below I copy a news release from the Dartmoor Preservation Association on a programme of bracken bashing (and yes, there is an archaeological aspect....).
From: Dartmoor Preservation Association
News Release: For Immediate Publication
DPA BASHES DARTMOOR BRACKEN
Bracken is out of control on Dartmoor. Much of our valuable heather moorland has been lost. Huge areas of the Moor have become "no-go" areas for walkers and riders. The presence of bracken is leading to the drying out and erosion of Dartmoor. Bracken's rhizomes are physically damaging Dartmoor's antiquities.
Dartmoor Preservation Association is doing something. We are researching the best environmentally friendly ways to turn back the green tide of bracken. We are investigating uses for bracken, ways to remove bracken from the moorland scene, from rolling and harvesting to "bracken stomps".
Beating the Bracken
At the crack of dawn (09.45 to be precise, but it felt like the crack of dawn) on a Sunday morning, 30 DPA volunteers from young children to senior citizens plus a few dogs, set off from East Rook Gate across the rugged slopes of South Dartmoor on a mission to "Beat Bracken" on and around the remains of the medieval farm house at "High House Waste". Bracken is prolific in this area and the rhizomes can do great damage to archaeological structures.
The area around the farmhouse was carefully chosen, and before 'beating' commenced, detailed studies of the plant species were made on several sample plots around the site. Beating is rather a loose term for what was actually done as several techniques were used to try and destroy the bracken. On the actual remains of the farmhouse itself, the bracken was either pulled or cut to avoid physical damage to the site. On the open areas to the west of the farmhouse a variety of bruising techniques were used, from beating with sticks to trampling under foot.
The object of the exercise is to come back in about six weeks time to see what effect the "beating" has had and to give it a second dose of the same treatment. The site will be inspected again in a years time to see what the longer term effect has been and also compare it with another area on the High House Waste site that has been sprayed with a herbicide.
Development Officer Dru Butterfield commented, "it's wonderful to see so much interest in the problem of bracken management. We have had a real cross-section of age groups volunteering to help. The Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) is keen to encourage anyone who would be interested in helping out for a few hours, it's fun and a great stress-reliever."
Please Contact us for emailed pictures of the Bracken Stomp (contact details at http://www.dartmoor-preservation-assoc.org.uk)