Rhossili Down

Colin Smith On Rhossili Down CC-BY-SA-2.0

Characteristics of Rhossili Down

Landscape

Rhossili Down and Cliffs are among the larger of the commons on Gower. It is a place of stunning natural beauty with abundant wildlife and much archaeological interest.

The sweeping bay of Rhossili is at the tip of the Gower Peninsula. The best way to appreciate it is to climb 200m above the bay to Rhossili Down Commons. From here, the views are simply magnificent. The bones of a shipwreck and the tidal island of Worm’s Head are revealed at low tide.

Rhossili Down is predominantly composed of dry acid dwarf shrub heath, which is a Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat, and bracken (Pteridium aquilinum) dominated areas.

Wildlife

Rhossili Down and Cliffs support a good biodiversity of flora and fauna including a number of protected species:

  • Mammals: brown hare (Lepus europaeus)
  • Birds: skylark (Alauda arvensis), chough (Pyrrhocaorax pyrrhocorax)
  • Butterflies: marsh fritillary (Eurodryas aurinia)
  • Larger moths: narrow bordered bee hawk (Hemaris tityus)
  • Dragonflies: southern damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale)
  • Other invertebrates: black bog ant (Formica candida), hornet (Vespa crabro), robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis)

History and Archaeology

There are sites of considerable historical interest on both Rhossili Down and Cliffs. The commons boast prehistoric stone circles, cairns and burial chambers, including seven Scheduled Monuments (SMs).

On the cliffs to the right of the path that leads to Worm’s Head are distinct grass covered mounds and ditches. These are the the remains of Old Castle Camp, an Iron Age Fort.

The remains of a World War II radar station can be found at the top of the Down towards its northwestern end. From this position the radar station was able to send early warning to Swansea of approaching enemy planes.

Photo by Colin Smith under CC 2.0

 

354ha

Common land
Open access land
Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SMs): Round Cairn on Bessie's Meadow, Enclosure on Rhossili Down, Burnt Mound on Rhossili Down, Lewes Castle Promontory Fort, Rhossili Down Round Cairns, Old Castle Camp, Sweyne's Howe Chambered Cairns
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)
Rhossili Down is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Rhossili Down is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)

SS424895