Ground breaking technology reveals location of monks’ cemetery and new evidence of their burial rituals at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire

Remarkable ground-penetrating technology has revealed more than 500 graves of Cistercian monks and lay brothers who once lived at Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, now cared for by the National Trust.


Fountains Abbey. Credit National Trust Images/Andrew Butler.

The abbey at the site existed from the early 12th century to its closure in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries.

The conservation charity has been working for over two years on a project with experts from the University of Bradford, Geoscan Research, and Mala Geoscience to research the largest monastic ruins in the country.  Continue reading


By-the-wind-sailors wash up at South Milton Sands



The discovery made at South Milton Sands – by-the-wind-sailors. Credit National Trust


National Trust Rangers at South Milton Sands have discovered dozens of ‘by-the-wind-sailors’ (a colonial hydroid related to jellyfish) washed up along the coast as a result of the strong winds.

These beautiful little creatures reach up to 10 cm in length, with a small tentacle which hangs down from their disc-shaped form to catch food. They have a small ‘sail’ that can run from north-west to south-east on the disc or south-west to north-east, moving them in different directions in the wind.

David Bullock, head of nature conservation for the National Trust, said: “They are wonderful. The surfers call them bluebottles because of their sting.

“They turn up in their thousands after strong southwesterlies, having drifted across the Atlantic. One of my many epiphany moments as a kid rock pooling was finding them on Rhosilli beach and I still think about it now.

“I found some last September at Kynance Cove. It’s a good sign that other stuff is in the strandline such as sea beans and other drift seeds from the Amazon. It’s time to go beachcombing!”

Frogs eager to breed in Cornwall

National Trust Area Ranger for the Lizard, Rachel Holder, looks at why frogs appear to be so eager to breed in Cornwall following the discovery of frogspawn in November.

The common frog Rana temporaria is a familiar sight across the UK. In any shallow standing water you are likely to come across tell-tale clumps of spawn, and tadpoles and froglets vying for survival, not above eating their siblings if needs must!

But just when can you expect to find frogspawn and tadpoles in your local pond? The simple answer might be spring for spawn and summer for tadpoles, but delve deeper and this doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.

Here on the Lizard, in the far south-west of the UK, our mild climate gives lots of species a head start, but our frogs have taken this further than most! This year I first saw frog spawn on 21st November, which is early, but not unheard of in a Cornish context.


Frogspawn found on the Lizard by National Trust Ranger, Rachel Holder. Credit National Trust images, Rachel Holder.

The gamble of getting ahead in the breeding game must be worth taking, and the risk of a severe cold-snap which could freeze the spawn worth braving.

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