Characteristics of Ryers Down
Ryers Down is an area of heathland. There are two main habitats, including a small area of wet heath and a larger area of dry heath.
The dry heathland is developing due to the ongoing scrub clearance and bracken management. The bracken had become dominant and was smothering the less vigorous heathland plants such as the characteristic bell heather and ling.
The great green bush-cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) can be found on Ryers Down. It is Britain’s largest bush cricket, measuring up to 5cm.
Management and Commons use
Dense bracken had been over-powering parts of the heathland. Bracken is unpalatable in any quantity for most grazing animals. For this reason the remnants of heathland that had not been affected by the bracken growth came under increased grazing pressure. This degraded the heathland further so that bracken invasion became more likely.
The bracken has been managed by a mechanical rolling process. This weakens the bracken and allows more favourable heathland species the opportunity to grow.
History and Archaeology
Scrub clearance and bracken management on Ryers Down have revealed nine sites of archaeological interest, which were previously hidden by high, dense vegetation. These Include two possible sites of medieval longhouses, a quarry, medieval banks and ditches.
There are several large irregular depressions with other smaller hollows around the hillside. Although the exact date is difficult to determine, these are likely to be old quarrying sites.
Approximately 68 ha
Open access land
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)