Characteristics of Hardings Down
Hardings Down comprises Permo-Triassic and Devonian reddish conglomerate and sandstone overlain by humo-ferric podzols of the Goldstone association.
These are well-drained, very acid, very stony, sandy soils with a bleached subsurface horizon over conglomerate, and less acid and less stony coarse loamy soils over sandstone.
The former Gower Commons Initiative took part in the first national water shrew survey, organised by the Mammal Society, in 2005.
There were two positive locations for the water shrew at Hardings Down. Prior to this survey there had been no data on the distribution or status of water shrews on Gower. The information from the survey has helped us to protect this mammal and its habitat for the future.
Management and Commons use
Hardings Down has been the location for a number of scientific studies. These include experiments on bracken management and also an Oxford University study of the effect of habitat destruction on food web diversity. The Oxford research aimed to predict how habitat destruction will lead to biodiversity loss here in the UK and the rest of the world.
Research has also been undertaken into how the Gower Commons Initiative’s management techniques have controlled the bracken and contributed to improving habitat biodiversity.
History and Archaeology
There are five known sites of archaeological interest on Hardings Down including:
- a Bronze Age cairn
- three Iron Age hillforts (all are Scheduled Monuments)
- a standing stone of unknown period
The presence of the three hillforts indicates that Hardings Down was a focus for activity during the Iron Age. It is possible that previously unrecorded outlying earthworks associated with these features may be present on the lower slopes of Hardings Down.
The easiest archaeological features for the visitor to spot are the hillfort sites. All three are marked on the Ordnance Survey Explorer Map for the area. They are defined by turf-covered banks and ditches which mark the perimeter of the forts. There is usually a gap in the bank where the entrance to the fort would have been.
In some places inside the perimeter there are single courses of large stone blocks, which further define the sites.
Open access land
Scheduled Monuments (SMs) on site
Within Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
Within West Gower landscape which is included in the Register of Landscapes of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales (CCW/CADW: Welsh Historic Monuments/ICOMOS UK 1998, 53-56)