Supporting the centuries-old heritage of upland commons by developing projects to re-connect people with commons and to conserve and enhance the heritage of commoning.
Funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has been secured to work with 12 upland commons in four of England's national landscapes; the Shropshire Hills, Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and Dartmoor. Here in the Shropshire Hills, we are focused on three commons; the Long Mynd, Stiperstones and Clee Liberty.
- Pole Cottage, Peregrines and Pigeons – help us to discover more, September 2021
- Lottery players fund Stiperstones Shepherd, July 2021
- Our Common Cause, February 2021
Working together with commoners and other partners the project aims to address the viability of commoning and the value of commons to society.
- to make commons more relevant to 21st century life
- to support owners and commoners in managing them to safeguard their history and the wildlife that depends on them
- to help people to discover and enjoy them
- to help make commoning more viable for future generations
The project is managed by the Foundation for Common Land on behalf of a broad partnership of 23 organisations, with the National Trust as the Accountable Body. The three year delivery phase started in January 2021.
Common land has its origins in our ancient history and is managed collectively – by “commoners” who are often, but not always farmers. They have the right to graze sheep, cattle, horses or pigs. Each common has its own group of commoners, with the grazing rights usually linked to their home farm and often passing down through generations of the same family.
Common land is not owned by the commoners but by someone else – a local council, another farmer, the Lord of the Manor or a utilities company. For example, the National Trust owns 60,000 ha of common land in England and Wales.
Wimbledon Common is one you may have heard of, and commons account for 3% of all land in England with some of our most iconic mountains being commons e.g. Helvellyn and Blencathra. Here in the Shropshire Hills AONB, some of our most iconic landscape features are also commons, including the Long Mynd and Stiperstones.
As well as being a vital resource for farmers, commons are important for wildlife, are often valuable historic sites, and are somewhere that people can get outside and enjoy the fresh air, as everyone has a right to walk on commons.
But, as with many traditional farming practices, commoning (farmers using their grazing rights) is in decline; and as a result, commons’ natural and cultural heritage is being lost.