Friday 22 October 2010

Barney Life No. 19

Sheep on The Mains

The Romans made a road right through what we now call Barnard Castle.  But it was the Baliol Family who arrived with the Norman conquerors in 1066 and who began to develop the castle and then the town.  In the Middle Ages, the Baliols, who owned the whole area, set out a number of 'desmesnes' on all sides of the town, large open areas, which the locals could use for strip-farming, and of course paying a rent to the lord of the manor.  In time, all of the desmesnes were fenced in and became farms.  All, except for one, to the south-east of Barney: this one was donated by Lord Barnard to the people of the town in perpetuity as an open space for their enjoyment.
The Desmesnes, or Mains, as the locals call the area, is comprised of two areas - the Upper Mains and, of course, the Lower Mains, with a steep climb in between. Walkers of all kinds use the area, some hikers follow the path through the Mains along the river Tees to the ruins of Eggleston Abbey, mostly the dog-walkers like me wander all over the area excercising our dogs - some days there are regular processions of dogs and owners.  The area is managed by the local Town Council, or rather, not managed for most of the time I have been here.  However, recently, one of our councillors put forward a plan to turn the Upper Mains into a wild flower moorland field: in the summer the thick unruly grass has been cut for sileage and removed, and the hope was that a second cut could be made before the winter sets in.  The local farmer decided that the grass was not long enough, and so a flock of about 100 sheep has been brought in to do the job instead.  They will be here for about another week or so, before being returned to their own fields.  As far as I can see, the sheep are doing a good job - the grass is getting a good cut!
(I was hoping to publish a couple of photos, but for some reason the photo-link isn't working)

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