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25 June 2004
Pony teams to save Prehistoric settlement

Around 25 campaigners from the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) are using Dartmoor hill ponies to pull a roller to bruise bracken on Corndon Tor, Poundsgate on Dartmoor (England). The site - situated between Ashburton and Princetown - is littered with remains of hut circles, pre-historic boundaries and field systems. It is thought to be more than 3,000 years old, and dates back to the Bronze Age. But it is being threatened by the spread of bracken. The plant's root systems can get underneath the low-standing stone walls and damage them.
     The DPA, with the support of the Dartmoor National Park, is carrying out a programme designed to control the spread of bracken and protect historic sites. Recently, it joined forces with the Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony to try to clear some of the bracken on the 20-acre site. Dru Butterfield, development officer for the DPA, said: "We are working on a magnificent Bronze Age settlement that is currently covered in bracken. The advantage of using ponies is they are able to walk over the archaeological site without harming it - something that a quad bike or tractor is incapable of doing"
     A spokesman for Dartmoor National Park said the volunteers were doing a fantastic job. He added: "There are lots of different methods for keeping control of bracken on the moor. The DPA is using one way which is effective on archeological sites."
     The DPA has been controlling the bracken for a few years and hopes it will be under control in three years' time. The volunteers plan to continue the bracken bruising also in August. The process will then be repeated twice every year for the next two years. Anyone interested in taking part should call Dru Butterfield on (+44) 01626 355314.

Source: This is Devon (24 June 2004)

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