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Published April 23rd 2020
Take a stroll through former medieval farmland
It is clearly pretty difficult to get 'out and about' during the ongoing restrictions in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. While people in the UK are still being allowed to venture outside for one bout of daily exercise, it is very much expected that this does not involve a drive to an established beauty spot, whether locally or the other side of the country as one family was recently caught attempting. So, it is pretty fortunate for people living in the small Staffordshire village of Clifton Campville near Tamworth that they have their very own spot of nature right on their doorstep. As the name suggests, Coneyberry Millennium Green was the result of one of many millennium projects around the country to signal the arrival of the year 2000. Until the end of the last century, 20 years ago, the eight-acre site which is now Coneyberry Millennium Green was long used as farmland and for rough grazing. In fact, the undulating landscape of the main meadow is testament to the traditional past method of using a horse-drawn plough.
There is another clue in the title of this nature area as to what it was formerly used for. Coney is an old fashioned name for rabbit, and was in fact referred to by Sam in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The smaller of the two adjoining meadows, which are sited on land previously owned by the neighbouring parish church, is believed to have riddled with rabbit warrens dating back to medieval times in order to provide much-needed food for the local population. The same site also includes a more modern addition, a tall sculpture called Joining, which was erected to commemorate the start of the new millennium. It is a combination of sundial and compass, with four large stones surrounding it bearing initials to signify North, South, East and West. The sculpture also bears the initials of children who were living in the parish at the start of this century.
The Joining sculpture with the church in the background
It is believed that a number of village ponds were originally dotted around the Clifton Campville area, fed by a natural spring. So, it was decided to reinstate a single small pond on the site as part of the project. It has been placed at the bottom of the slope containing the Joining artwork, and is understood to have attracted aquatic species such as frogs and newts. A viewing platform was recently added alongside the pond for visitors, young and old, to hopefully gain a glimpse of the wildlife. Children are also catered for in a more traditional way, with a comprehensive play area alongside the path that runs through the middle of the entire site, splitting the two meadows in two.
The overall millennium green is a mixture of meadows, bearing a variety of wild flowers such as corn marigold and poppy, a woodland area at the highest point of the site comprising native species of trees from oak and ash to hawthorn and horse chestnut, and areas of important hedgerow which help to provide for the local wildlife all year round. The millennium green project continues to be supported by The Countryside Agency.