Shawford Down

Chalk downland and scrub, with a prominent series of strip lynchets, an important example of early strip cultivation

Shawford Down

About the site

Medieval strip lynchets are prominent amid the rich chalk grassland. They illustrate how man once ploughed in terraces to grow valuable crops for local people. Now managed to maintain wildlife habitats, the grasslands are alive with insects and awash with cowslips in the spring.

Good access enables quiet recreation and enjoyment for all especially with its sweeping views across to the South Downs to the East.


Near Shawford, Winchester

Wildlife habitats

Shawford Down supports a good range of chalk grassland habitats, with the rest being scrub and woodland. A diverse range of chalk grassland flora includes wild parsnip, red bartsia, cowslip and common rock-rose.

The site holds a small population of Chalk Hill Blue. At present these are mainly found where their food plant horseshoe vetch grows in short turf kept open by grazing. 

Human influence 

Shawford Down was a part of the Mawme Common, a large area of downland totalling 114 acres in 1735, partly enclosed in 1741. The down had been grazed by livestock for hundreds of years, until 1910 when the Twyford & Shawford Golf Course was constructed. 

There are strip lynchets across the sites which seem to be Medieval in origin and it is unknown when they were last ploughed. The only mention of cultivation is in 1516 when Peter Philpot was presented in the Manor Court for illegally enclosing ‘a lynchet which has been used by the Lord and his tenants as common land from time immemorial, and which used to lie open with the rest of the Lords surrounding land’.

The strip lynchets and associated holloways are not the only archaeological interest on the site. There are also two world war memorials on the down. A wooden cross alongside the Otterbourne Road commemorates the troops that marched down the Southampton Road during the First World War. A stone memorial to the parish fallen in the First and Second World Wars is also on site.

The Knoll

Shawford Knoll was reclaimed after the M3 link was installed in the late 20th Century. The area was landscaped with shallow soils and seed added to create a chalk grassland and scrub providing good habitat for birds and mammals.

Contact us

Phone 01962 860948

Email [email protected]

Central Countryside Sites, Crabwood Depot, Sarum Road, Winchester, Hampshire, SO22 5QS