The Hidden Heritage of High Lodge

Olive Cook's Breckland

from Cook, O., Breckland, Hale 1956

Page xii, 1980 preface

Brandon, approach on Thetford Road, "… through industrial sites along which a few twisted pines recall the dramatic, primeval aspect of the scene in the fifties"

Page xiii, 1980 preface

Comments on changes to Breckland, says that Cavenham Heath is still visually typical of Breckland before afforestation, also East Wretham Heath, Roudham and Bridgeham heaths, where "… the natural life of Warren and forest can be richly enjoyed: crossbill, redstart, nightjar, stone curlew, carrier and shrike all breed here and red squirrels are not uncommon"

Page 6

describes a storm, in which birds, "usually so clamorous here", larks, lapwings, stockdoves, pheasants had vanished

Page 8

On sandy track which runs between South Pickenham and Cockley Cley, open country, path overgrown with pink and white striped sea bindweed and large cinquefoil, covered with carpets of poppies, brilliant blue sheets of vipers bugloss, ladies bedstraw, restharrow, knapweed, a crop of dense chamomile, a vast stretch of golden ragwort. Butterflies - clouded yellows, tawny high brown fritillaries, Vanessas, red and white admiral.

Page 10

At Grimes Graves, swelling song of larks, shrill mournful cry of the stone curlew, of which two pairs nest regularly on this warren

Page 18

at Brandon, "… hundreds of swifts whose scream haunts the town as they rake the eaves in their rapid flight, skim sidelong by the river or with a rush of wind swoop suddenly under the bridge."

Page 61

In Breckland, "…landscape in all directions is scarred by sandpits whose sides are riddled with holes, the nests of sandmartins and wheatears"

Page 63

Told by Brandon flintknapper that stone curlews nested where Roudham joins bring Bridgeham Heath, visited in June, Heath covered in bracken fronds, heard continuous song of larks. Wild pansies of unusually large size. Under pines and network of thyme together with sandsedge, a flower of the coast, hundreds of orange and black striped caterpillars on stem and leaf in a ditch. Saw a stone-curlew, then heard the call of a number of these birds.

Plate between pp 64 & 65

Photo of Aaron's Rod growing on the edge of Snake Wood

Page 65

Breckland one of the few parts of England where stone-curlew still found. Saw one nest near Santon, eggs the colour of stone, spotted and marbled with dark brown, very similar to flints and pebbles among which they rested. Ring plover nests on derelict brecks in a hollow in the sand, camouflages its sand coloured eggs. Sometimes the nest is lined with tiny stones, giving it the name by which it is known in Breckland, stone-hatch

Page 66

Track on a warren between Hilborough and South Pickenham, saw stocked out, and two ring plovers (stone-hatch)

Page 67

at Lakenheath Warren, July, chorus of blackbirds, skylarks and pipits, a thrush, wheeling lapwings, a whinchat

Page 68

Spring in Breckland, open heath covered in tiny delicate flowers of the whitlow grass, and profusion of crab apple blossom and "hoary, twisting trunks", Avenue near Rushford, group of such trees 30 feet tall. Warren near Swaffham, ragged belt of pine, beech and fir, ragwort, birds foot trefoil, lady's bedstraw, sickle medick, flixweed, mignonette, stonecrop, hawkweed, restharrow, rosebay, pink catchfly.

Page 69

Heather in bloom, stretches of purple broken by yellow bents or patches of bracken. In autumn bracken in sheltered places grown taller than a man's head, close together, sometimes opening out.

Page 82

Roudham Heath, near Illington, "… rare Spanish catchfly grows untrammelled and in such profusion that it gives the impression of a thick crop of hay"

Page 92

Describes establishment of Thetford Forest by FC. Alder and birch trees in the Little Ouse valley at Santon Downham and two giant Douglas firs near mansion hacked down and timber sold, "… natural vegetation of heath and warren, grasses, mosses, heather and lichen, together with all the bird, animal and insect life, were exterminated by plough and spade"

Page 97

At Santon Downham, possible to see a pair of crossbills or 'robin-hawks'. "The new pinewoods are said to encourage them, but the bird has always nested in Breckland, especially at Santon Downham and West Wretham"

Page 122

Fowlmere, the largest heathland mere, seven species of duck breed there, mallard, gadwall, teal, shoveller, garganey, pochard and tufted duck. Garganey second most common after mallard. Dabchick in reeds of eastern margin, not uncommon to find a nest with five or six white eggs.