Salisbury Plain
Overview
 
Salisbury Plain is a chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 in central southern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 covering 300 square miles (777 km²). It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation
Southern England Chalk Formation
The Chalk Formation of Southern England is a system of chalk downland in the south of England. The formation is perhaps best known for Salisbury Plain, the location of Stonehenge, the Isle of Wight and the twin ridgeways of the North Downs and South Downs....

 and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, with a little in Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, including Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

, one of England's best known landmarks. Largely as a result of the establishment of the Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain (ATE SP), the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland is an ecosystem associated with thin basic soil, such as that on chalk and limestone downland. Plants on calcareous grassland are typically short and hardy, and include grasses and herbs such as clover...

 in north-west Europe.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Salisbury Plain is a chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 in central southern England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 covering 300 square miles (777 km²). It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation
Southern England Chalk Formation
The Chalk Formation of Southern England is a system of chalk downland in the south of England. The formation is perhaps best known for Salisbury Plain, the location of Stonehenge, the Isle of Wight and the twin ridgeways of the North Downs and South Downs....

 and largely lies within the county of Wiltshire
Wiltshire
Wiltshire is a ceremonial county in South West England. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire. It contains the unitary authority of Swindon and covers...

, with a little in Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

. The plain is famous for its rich archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

, including Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

, one of England's best known landmarks. Largely as a result of the establishment of the Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain (ATE SP), the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland
Calcareous grassland is an ecosystem associated with thin basic soil, such as that on chalk and limestone downland. Plants on calcareous grassland are typically short and hardy, and include grasses and herbs such as clover...

 in north-west Europe. Additionally the plain has arable land
Arable land
In geography and agriculture, arable land is land that can be used for growing crops. It includes all land under temporary crops , temporary meadows for mowing or pasture, land under market and kitchen gardens and land temporarily fallow...

, and a few small areas of beech trees
Beech
Beech is a genus of ten species of deciduous trees in the family Fagaceae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and North America.-Habit:...

 and coniferous woodland
Woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...

.

Physical geography

The boundaries of Salisbury Plain have never been truly defined, and there is some difference of opinion as to its exact area. The river valleys
Valley
In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys...

 surrounding it, and other downs
Downland
A downland is an area of open chalk hills. This term is especially used to describe the chalk countryside in southern England. Areas of downland are often referred to as Downs....

 and plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s beyond them loosely define its boundaries. To the north the scarp
Escarpment
An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that occurs from erosion or faulting and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations.-Description and variants:...

 of the downs overlooks the Vale of Pewsey
Vale of Pewsey
The Vale of Pewsey or Pewsey Vale is an area of Wiltshire, England to the east of Devizes and south of Marlborough, centred on the town of Pewsey.-Geography:...

, and to the north west the Bristol Avon. The River Wylye
River Wylye
The River Wylye is a classic southern England chalk stream; champagne clear water flowing over gravel. Consequently, it is popular with anglers keen on fly fishing.- Course :...

 runs along the south west, and the Bourne
River Bourne, Wiltshire
The River Bourne is a river in the English county of Wiltshire, and a tributary of the River Avon.The Bourne's source is at the eastern end of the Vale of Pewsey, near the village of Burbage. The river cuts through the chalk escarpment at Collingbourne Kingston, to flow south across Salisbury Plain...

 runs to the east.
The Avon
River Avon, Hampshire
The River Avon is a river in the south of England. The river rises in the county of Wiltshire and flows through the city of Salisbury and the county of Hampshire before reaching the English Channel through Christchurch Harbour in the county of Dorset....

 runs through the eastern half of the plain and to the south the plain peters out as the river valleys close together before meeting at Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

. From here the Avon continues south to the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 at Christchurch
Christchurch, Dorset
Christchurch is a borough and town in the county of Dorset on the south coast of England. The town adjoins Bournemouth in the west and the New Forest lies to the east. Historically in Hampshire, it joined Dorset with the reorganisation of local government in 1974 and is the most easterly borough in...

. The Hampshire Downs and the Berkshire Downs
Berkshire Downs
The Berkshire Downs are a range of chalk downland hills in southern England, part of the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty...

 are chalk downland to the east and north of Salisbury Plain, and the Dorset Downs
Dorset Downs
The Dorset Downs are an area of Chalk downland in the centre of the county Dorset in south west England. The downs are the most western part of a larger Chalk Formation which also includes Cranborne Chase, Salisbury Plain, Hampshire Downs, Chiltern Hills, North Downs and South Downs.The Dorset...

 and Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase
Cranborne Chase is a Chalk plateau in central southern England, straddling the counties Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. The plateau is part of the English Chalk Formation and is adjacent to Salisbury Plain and the West Wiltshire Downs in the north, the Dorset Downs to the south west and the...

 are to the south west. In the west and north west the geology
Geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 is mainly of the clay
Clay
Clay is a general term including many combinations of one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Geologic clay deposits are mostly composed of phyllosilicate minerals containing variable amounts of water trapped in the mineral structure.- Formation :Clay minerals...

s and limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

s of the Blackmore Vale
Blackmore Vale
The Blackmore Vale is a vale, or wide valley, in north Dorset, and to a lesser extent south Somerset and southwest Wiltshire in southern England. The vale is part of the Stour valley...

, Avon Vale and Vale of Wardour.

Amesbury
Amesbury
Amesbury is a town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. It is most famous for the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge which is in its parish, and for the discovery of the Amesbury Archer—dubbed the King of Stonehenge in the press—in 2002...

 is considered the largest settlement on the plain, though there are a number of small village
Village
A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet with the population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand , Though often located in rural areas, the term urban village is also applied to certain urban neighbourhoods, such as the West Village in Manhattan, New...

s, such as Tilshead
Tilshead
Tilshead is a small village located in Wiltshire, in England. It lies approximately midway between the villages of Shrewton and Market Lavington, and is located at the source of the River Till. Its population in 2001 was 359, down from a peak of 989 inhabitants in 1951.. The White Barrow long...

, Chitterne
Chitterne
Chitterne is a village and parish in the County of Wiltshire, in the south west of England. The village lies in the middle of Salisbury Plain, to the south of the abandoned village of Imber...

 and Shrewton
Shrewton
Shrewton is a village in Wiltshire, England, located around 9 km west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. It lies on the A360 road between Stonehenge and Tilshead. It is close to the source of the River Till, which flows south to Stapleford. Its population at the 2001 Census was 1,826, as...

 in the middle of the plain, as well as various hamlets and army camps. The A303 road
A303 road
The A303 is a 92-mile long trunk road in England. It is the main road between Basingstoke in Hampshire and Honiton in Devon. The M3, the A303 and the A30 together make up one of the main routes from London to South West England, running from London to Land's End in Cornwall...

 runs along the southern area of the plain, and the A360
A360 road
The A360 is a minor A road in Wiltshire, England, running from Devizes to Salisbury, through the villages of Potterne, West Lavington, Tilshead, and Shrewton, and passing near Stonehenge....

 cuts across the centre.

History

Salisbury Plain is famous for its history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

 and archaeology
Archaeology
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

. In the Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period Stone Age man began to settle on the plain, most likely centred around the causewayed enclosure
Causewayed enclosure
A causewayed enclosure is a type of large prehistoric earthwork common to the early Neolithic in Europe. More than 100 examples are recorded in France and 70 in England, while further sites are known in Scandinavia, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Slovakia.The term "causewayed enclosure" is...

 of Robin Hood's Ball
Robin Hood's Ball
Robin Hood’s Ball is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. It is approximately 5 miles from the town of Amesbury, and 2.5 miles from Stonehenge.-Etymology:...

. Large long barrows like White Barrow
White Barrow
White Barrow is a large Neolithic long barrow situated on a chalk ridge on Salisbury Plain just outside of the village of Tilshead in Wiltshire. It is a scheduled monument, and is owned by the National Trust. It was the first ancient monument to be purchased by the Trust.- History :White Barrow...

 and other earthworks were built across the plain. By 2500 BC areas around Durrington Walls
Durrington Walls
Durrington Walls is the site of a large Neolithic settlement and later henge enclosure located in the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. It is 2 miles north-east of Stonehenge in the parish of Durrington, just north of Amesbury...

 and Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

 had become a focus for building, and the southern part of the plain continued to be settled into the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

.

Around 600 BC Iron Age
British Iron Age
The British Iron Age is a conventional name used in the archaeology of Great Britain, referring to the prehistoric and protohistoric phases of the Iron-Age culture of the main island and the smaller islands, typically excluding prehistoric Ireland, and which had an independent Iron Age culture of...

 Hill fort
Hill fort
A hill fort is a type of earthworks used as a fortified refuge or defended settlement, located to exploit a rise in elevation for defensive advantage. They are typically European and of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Some were used in the post-Roman period...

s came to be constructed around the boundaries of the plain, including Scratchbury Camp
Scratchbury Camp
Scratchbury Camp is the site of an Iron Age univallate hillfort located on Scratchbury Hill, near the village and civil parish of Norton Bavant in Wiltshire...

 and Battlesbury Camp
Battlesbury Camp
Battlesbury Camp is the site of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort on Battlesbury Hill in Wiltshire in South West England. Excavations and surveys at the site have uncovered various finds and archaeological data.-Background:...

 to the south west, Bratton Camp to the north west, Casterley Camp
Casterley Camp
Casterley Camp is the site of an Iron Age univallate hillfort located in Wiltshire. The site comprises a large Iron Age/Romano-British enclosure, possibly non-defensive in function, and incomplete. The site was partially excavated in the 19th century....

 to the north, Yarnbury
Yarnbury Castle
Yarnbury Castle is a 9.1 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Wiltshire, England, notified in 1951.-Source:* -External links:*...

 and Vespasian's Camp
Vespasian's Camp
Vespasian's Camp is an Iron Age Hillfort in the town of Amesbury, Wiltshire, England. It is located less than 2 miles from the older Neolithic and Bronze Age monument of Stonehenge and was built on a hill next to the Stonehenge Avenue.-Etymology:...

 to the south, and Sidbury Hill
Sidbury Hill, Wiltshire
Sidbury Hill, or Sidbury Camp, is the site of an Iron Age bivallate hillfort located in Wiltshire. The site is sub-triangular in shape, and approximately 17 acres in area, and is constructed on the site of a neolithic settlement. The hill offers excellent defensive slopes on all sides, which have...

 to the east.

Roman roads are visible features, probably serving a settlement near Old Sarum
Old Sarum
Old Sarum is the site of the earliest settlement of Salisbury, in England. The site contains evidence of human habitation as early as 3000 BC. Old Sarum is mentioned in some of the earliest records in the country...

. Villas
Villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...

 are sparse, however, and Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon may refer to:* Anglo-Saxons, a group that invaded Britain** Old English, their language** Anglo-Saxon England, their history, one of various ships* White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, an ethnicity* Anglo-Saxon economy, modern macroeconomic term...

 place names suggest that the plain was mostly a grain-producing imperial estate.

In the sixth century Anglo-Saxon incomers built planned settlements in the valleys surrounded by strip lynchets
Lynchet
A lynchet is a bank of earth that builds up on the downslope of a field ploughed over a long period of time. The disturbed soil slips down the hillside to create a positive lynchet while the area reduced in level becomes a negative lynchet. They are also referred to as strip lynchets.They are a...

, with the downland left as sheep pasture. To the south is the city of Salisbury
Salisbury
Salisbury is a cathedral city in Wiltshire, England and the only city in the county. It is the second largest settlement in the county...

, whose 13th and 14th century cathedral is famous for having the tallest spire in the country, and the building was, for many centuries, the tallest building in Britain. The cathedral is evidence of the prosperity the wool
Wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 and cloth trade brought to the area. In the mid-19th century the wool and cloth industry began to decline, leading to a decline in the population and change in land use from sheep farming to agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

 and military use. Wiltshire became one of the poorest counties in England during this period of decline.

There are a number of chalk carvings
Hill figure
A hill figure is a large visual representation created by cutting into a steep hillside and revealing the underlying geology. It is a type of geoglyph usually designed to be seen from afar rather than above. In some cases trenches are dug and rubble made from material brighter than the natural...

 on the plain, of which the most famous is the Westbury White Horse
Westbury White Horse
The Westbury or Bratton White Horse is a hill figure on the escarpment of Salisbury Plain, approximately east of Westbury in England. Located on the edge of Bratton Downs and lying just below an Iron Age hill fort, it is the oldest of several white horses carved in Wiltshire...

. The Kennet and Avon Canal
Kennet and Avon Canal
The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of , made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. The name is commonly used to refer to the entire length of the navigation rather than solely to the central canal section...

 was constructed to the north of the plain, through the Vale of Pewsey
Vale of Pewsey
The Vale of Pewsey or Pewsey Vale is an area of Wiltshire, England to the east of Devizes and south of Marlborough, centred on the town of Pewsey.-Geography:...

.

In 1896, George Kemp and Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi
Guglielmo Marconi was an Italian inventor, known as the father of long distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi's law and a radio telegraph system. Marconi is often credited as the inventor of radio, and indeed he shared the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics with Karl Ferdinand...

 experimented with wireless telegraphy
Wireless telegraphy
Wireless telegraphy is a historical term used today to apply to early radio telegraph communications techniques and practices, particularly those used during the first three decades of radio before the term radio came into use....

 on Salisbury Plain, and achieved good results over a distance of 1.75 miles (2.8 km).

Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain (SPTA)

The exact area of Salisbury Plain is sometimes confused with the extent of the military training area that it is home to. In fact this only covers roughly half of the geological boundaries of the plain. The army first conducted exercises on the plain in 1898. From that time, the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 bought up large areas of land until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The MoD now own 150 square miles (388.5 km²) of land, making it the largest military training area in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. Of this, around 39 square miles (101 km²) are permanently closed to the public, and access is greatly restricted in other areas. As military use of the plain increased, new camps and barracks were constructed, including those at Larkhill
Larkhill
Larkhill is a garrison town in the civil parish of Durrington, Wiltshire, England. It is a short distance west of Durrington village proper and north of the prehistoric monument of Stonehenge. It is about north of Salisbury....

, Bulford
Bulford
Bulford is a village and civil parish in Wiltshire, England, close to Salisbury Plain. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,698.The name is derived from the Old English bulut ieg ford meaning 'ragged robin island ford'....

, Tidworth
Tidworth
Tidworth is a town in south-east Wiltshire, England with a growing civilian population. Situated at the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain, it is approximately 10 miles west of Andover, 12 miles south of Marlborough, 24 miles south of Swindon, 15 miles north by north-east of Salisbury and 6 miles east...

 and Warminster
Warminster
Warminster is a town in western Wiltshire, England, by-passed by the A36, and near Frome and Westbury. It has a population of about 17,000. The River Were runs through the town and can be seen running through the middle of the town park. The Minster Church of St Denys sits on the River Were...

. Several installations have been built and since removed, including a railway line and aerodrome that were constructed next to Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

. In 1943 the village of Imber
Imber
Imber is an uninhabited village in part of the British Army's training grounds on the Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England. It is situated in an isolated area of the Plain, about west of the A360 road between Tilshead and West Lavington, accessible only by military tracks...

 and the hamlet of Par Hinton were evacuated to allow training for Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings...

 to be conducted. The village has remained closed, except for the annual church service and some bank holidays, ever since.

The Royal School of Artillery
Royal School of Artillery
The Royal School of Artillery is the principal training establishment for artillery warfare in the British Army. Established in 1915, it is located at Larkhill, on the south edge of Salisbury Plain in the United Kingdom...

 is based at Larkhill, and live firing is conducted on the plain for approximately 340 days of each year. Military personnel from the UK and around the world
World
World is a common name for the whole of human civilization, specifically human experience, history, or the human condition in general, worldwide, i.e. anywhere on Earth....

 spend some 600,000 man days on the plain every year.

The ATE SP is located close to other military facilities including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down
Porton Down
Porton Down is a United Kingdom government and military science park. It is situated slightly northeast of Porton near Salisbury in Wiltshire, England. To the northwest lies the MoD Boscombe Down test range facility which is operated by QinetiQ...

 (much of whose work is secret), Boscombe Down airfield and Middle Wallop Army Air Corps Base
Army Air Corps Middle Wallop
Army Air Corps Middle Wallop is a British Army base near the Hampshire village of Middle Wallop. The base hosts 2 Regiment Army Air Corps and the School of Army Aviation. The role of 2 Regiment is training and so AAC Middle Wallop is the base where most Army Air Corps pilots begin their careers...

, where pilots train on the Westland Apache
Westland WAH-64 Apache
The AgustaWestland Apache is a licence-built version of the Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter for the British Army's Army Air Corps. The first eight helicopters were built by Boeing; the remaining 59 were assembled by Westland Helicopters at Yeovil, Somerset in England from...

.

Ecology

Because of the large training areas inaccessible to the public, the plain is a wildlife haven, and home to two National Nature Reserve
National Nature Reserve
For details of National nature reserves in the United Kingdom see:*National Nature Reserves in England*National Nature Reserves in Northern Ireland*National Nature Reserves in Scotland*National Nature Reserves in Wales...

s, but there is concern that the low level of grazing on the plain could allow scrub to encroach on the grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

. The plain supports the largest known expanse of unimproved chalk downland in north west Europe, and represents 41% of Britain's remaining area of this wildlife habitat. The Plain supports 13 species of nationally rare and scarce plants, 67 species of rare and scarce invertebrates and forms a site of international importance for birds. In addition to chalk downland, the Plain supports scrub and woodland habitats, temporary and permanent pools and the River winterbourne
River Bourne, Wiltshire
The River Bourne is a river in the English county of Wiltshire, and a tributary of the River Avon.The Bourne's source is at the eastern end of the Vale of Pewsey, near the village of Burbage. The river cuts through the chalk escarpment at Collingbourne Kingston, to flow south across Salisbury Plain...

.

Vegetation

A diversity of soil types, slope, aspect and past and present land-use has given rise to various grassland communities. Historical evidence suggests that large areas of grassland are of great antiquity, and areas which were cultivated at the beginning of this century have experienced nearly 100 years of chalk grassland re-colonisation. Parts of East Salisbury Plain and the periphery of Central and West comprise areas of grassland currently managed for grazing pasture and hay-cutting, whilst the middle of Centre and West are ungrazed. A large proportion of Salisbury Plain supports upright brome Bromus erectus
Bromus
Bromus is a large genus of the grass family . Estimates in the scientific literature of the number of species have ranged from 100 to 400, but plant taxonomists currently recognize around 160–170 species...

species rich grassland, within which a continuous floristic variation is seen. A widespread type on the Plain is characterised by an abundance of red fescue
Fescue
Festuce is a genus of about 300 species of perennial tufted grasses, belonging to the grass family Poaceae . The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution, although the majority of the species are found in cool temperate areas...

 Festuca rubra, crested hair-grass
Koeleria macrantha
Koeleria macrantha is a species of grass known by the common name prairie Junegrass. In the UK it is known as Crested hair-grass. It is native to much of North America, from Alaska to California, from northern Mexico to the Eastern United States...

 Koeleria macrantha, salad burnet Sanguisorba minor, lady's bedstraw
Galium verum
Galium verum is a herbaceous perennial plant of the family Rubiaceae, native to Europe and Asia. It is a low scrambling plant, with the stems growing to long, frequently rooting where they touch the ground. The leaves are long and broad, shiny dark green, hairy underneath, borne in whorls of 8–12...

 Galium verum, rough hawkbit
Hawkbit
Hawkbits are dandelion-like flowers in the family Asteraceae . Their English name derives from the mediæval belief that hawks ate the plant to improve their eyesight...

 Leontodon hispidus, common rock-rose
Cistaceae
The Cistaceae is a small family of plants known for its beautiful shrubs, which are profusely covered by flowers at the time of blossom...

 Helianthemum nummularium and dropwort
Dropwort
Dropwort , also known as Fern-leaf Dropwort, is a perennial herb of the family Rosaceae closely related to Meadowsweet...

 Filipendula vulgaris. The high constancy of this last species is a distinctive feature of the upright brome grasslands on Salisbury Plain and is otherwise only known from one other site in Hampshire. Where upright brome is less dominating, plants such as small scabiousa
Scabiosa
Scabiosa is a genus in the teasel Family Dipsacaceae of flowering plants. Many of the species in this genus have common names that include the word scabious; however some plants commonly known as scabious are currently classified in related genera such as Knautia and Succisa; at least some of...

 Scabiosa columbaria, clustered bellflower Campanula glomerata, dyer's greenweed
Genista tinctoria
Genista tinctoria, with common names: Dyer's Broom, Dyer’s Greenweed, Dyer's Whin, Furze, Greenbroom, Greenweed, Waxen Woad, Woad Waxen and Waxen Wood, is a plant species of the genus Genista.-Description:...

 Genista tinctoria, kidney vetch
Anthyllis vulneraria
Anthyllis vulneraria is a medicinal plant native to Europe. The name vulneraria means "wound healer".-Description:...

 Anthyllis vulneraria, sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia and horseshoe vetch Hippocrepis comosa are characteristic associates.
The rare and notable plants which occur here include burnt orchid
Burnt orchid
The Burnt Orchid is a European terrestrial orchid, most common in the mountains. It flowers between April and August depending on the altitude....

 Orchis ustulata, slender bedstraw
Galium pumilum
Galium pumilum or Slender Bedstraw is a plant species of the genus Galium....

 Galium pumilum, field fleawort
Plantago
Plantago is a genus of about 200 species of small, inconspicuous plants commonly called plantains. They share this name with the very dissimilar plantain, a kind of banana. Most are herbaceous plants, though a few are subshrubs growing to 60 cm tall. The leaves are sessile, but have a narrow...

 Senecio integrifolius and the nationally scarce British endemic early gentian Gentianella anglica. Particularly associated with long established turf on thin rendzina soils, and rabbit
grazed areas of the eastern and central ranges, are low-growing perennials including squinancy-wort
Asperula cynanchica
Asperula cynanchica is a species of flowering plant in the Rubiaceae family. Its common name is derived from its former use as a medicinal herb to cure quinsy. It is native to much of Europe....

 Asperula cynanchica, chalk milkwort
Polygala
Polygala is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants belonging to the family Polygalaceae, commonly known as milkwort or snakeroot...

 Polygala calcarea, dwarf thistle
Cirsium acaule
Cirsium acaule or acaulon has the English name Dwarf Thistle. It can be found in various parts of England, and France to Denmark. It is found on short, calcerous grasslands.-Description:...

 Cirsium acaule, wild thyme Thymus praecox, the nationally scarce bastard toadflax
Comandra
The genus Comandra contains a single species, C. umbellata, with 4 sub-species distributed in North America and the Mediterranean. C...

 Thesium humifusum and purple milk-vetch
Astragalus
Astragalus is a large genus of about 3,000 species of herbs and small shrubs, belonging to the legume family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. The genus is native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere...

 Astragalus danicus in its most southerly British station.

Devil's-bit scabious
Succisa pratensis
Succisa pratensis Moench, also known as Devil's-bit Scabious, is a flowering plant of the genus Succisa in the family Dipsacaceae. It differs from other similar species in that it has 4 lobed flowers, whereas Small Scabious and Field scabious have 5 lobes and hence it has been placed in a separate...

 Succisa pratensis, saw-wort Serratula tinctoria and betony
Stachys
Stachys is one of the largest genera in the flowering plant family Lamiaceae. Estimates of the number of species in the genus vary from about 300, to about 450. The type species for the genus is Stachys sylvatica. Stachys is in the subfamily Lamioideae...

 Stachys officinalis are all abundant and exemplify the oceanic character of the chalk grassland on the Plain, a feature which is confined to south-west England. Similarly restricted is a community in which dwarf sedge
Carex
Carex is a genus of plants in the family Cyperaceae, commonly known as sedges. Other members of the Cyperaceae family are also called sedges, however those of genus Carex may be called "true" sedges, and it is the most species-rich genus in the family. The study of Carex is known as...

 Carex humilis forms a conspicuous component. This type of grassland has its stronghold in Wiltshire and occurs on the less disturbed areas of the central ranges. Herb diversity is generally lower in the tall upright brome dominated swards, but wild parsnip
Parsnip
The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot. Parsnips resemble carrots, but are paler than most carrots and have a sweeter taste, especially when cooked. The buttery, slightly spicy, sweet flavor of cooked mature parsnips is reminiscent of butterscotch, honey, and subtle cardamom...

 Pastinaca sativa, hogweed Heracleum sphondylium and greater knapweed
Centaurea scabiosa
Centaurea scabiosa or Greater Knapweed is a perennial plant of the genus Centaurea. It is native to Europe and bears purple flower heads.Greater knapweed is found growing in dry grasslands, hedgerows and cliffs on lime-rich soil...

 Centaurea scabiosa are characteristic. Parasitic on the latter species is knapweed broomrape
Broomrape
Broomrape or Broom-rape is a genus of over 200 species of parasitic herbaceous plants in the family Orobanchaceae, mostly native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere. Some species formerly included in this genus are now referred to the genus Conopholis.The broomrape plant is small, from...

 Orobanche elatior, occurring in greater quantity on the Plain than anywhere else in Britain. False-oat grass
Arrhenatherum elatius
-Introduction:Arrhenatherum elatius, with the common names false oat-grass, tall oat-grass, tall meadow oat, onion couch and tuber oat-grass, is a perennial species of grass, common in the temperate regions of Europe....

 Arrhenatherum elatius grassland is also widespread, but is particularly a feature of the western ranges, often indicating areas of past cultivation.

On anthills, and in the more disturbed turf that is especially a feature of the impact area, mouse-ear hawkweed Hieracium pilosella is abundant together with sheep's fescue
Sheep's Fescue
Sheep's Fescue or Sheep Fescue is a species of grass.-General Description:It is a perennial plant sometimes found in acidic ground, for example in the Portlethen Moss, Scotland and mountain pasture, throughout Europe and eastwards across much of Asia; it has also been introduced to North...

 Festuca ovina and wild thyme. Annuals are also characteristic of this habitat, including common whitlowgrass
Draba verna
Spring draba may also go by the names shadflower, nailwort, vernal whitlow grass, early witlow grass or whitlow-grass. It is a tiny, tiny plant of sagebrush country, in the inland western U.S., most of Europe, including Britain, North Africa and temperate Asia...

 Erophila verna, rue-leaved saxifrage
Saxifraga tridactylites
Saxifraga tridactylites, the Rue-leaved Saxifrage or "nailwort", is a species of plant in the family Saxifragaceae....

 Saxifraga tridactylites, hairy rock-cress
Arabis hirsuta
Arabis hirsuta is a flowering plant of the genus Arabis in the family Brassicaceae. It is native to Europe, Asia, and the northern half of North America.-External links:****...

 Arabis hirsuta and the nationally scarce dwarf mouse-ear
Cerastium
Cerastium is a genus of annual, winter annual, or perennial plants belonging to the family Caryophyllaceae. The around 100 species are commonly called Mouse-ear chickweed; different species are found nearly worldwide but the greatest concentration is mainly from the northern temperate areas of the...

 Cerastium pumilum and fine-leaved sandwort
Minuartia
Minuartia is a genus of small flowering plants, one of those commonly known as "sandwort" or "stitchwort". The genus is classed within the family Caryophyllaceae, the pink family, characterised by its opposite and decussate leaves....

 Minuartia hybrida. A very local community characterised by a lichen-rich turf (Cladonia
Cladonia
Cladonia is a genus of moss-like lichens in the family Cladoniaceae. They are the primary food source for reindeer and caribou. Cladonia species are of economic importance to reindeer-herders, such as the Sami in Scandinavia or the Nenets in Russia. Antibiotic compounds are extracted from some...

 species) and the broom moss
Dicranum scoparium
Dicranum scoparium, the Broom moss, is a species of dicranid moss, native to North America, including the Great Lakes region. It usually forms tufts or mats on soil in dry to moist forested areas...

 Dicranum scoparium is found in some stabilised missile-impaction craters on the central ranges. This vegetation type is found elsewhere only on Porton Down SSSI and on the Brecklands.

Small areas of chalk-heath vegetation occur on superficial clay-with-flints deposits. Here chalk-loving plants such as salad burnet Sanguisorba minor and dropwort
Dropwort
Dropwort , also known as Fern-leaf Dropwort, is a perennial herb of the family Rosaceae closely related to Meadowsweet...

 co-exist with plants typical of acid soils, including gorse
Gorse
Gorse, furze, furse or whin is a genus of about 20 plant species of thorny evergreen shrubs in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae, native to western Europe and northwest Africa, with the majority of species in Iberia.Gorse is closely related to the brooms, and like them, has green...

 Ulex europaeus, heather
Calluna
Calluna vulgaris is the sole species in the genus Calluna in the family Ericaceae. It is a low-growing perennial shrub growing to tall, or rarely to and taller, and is found widely in Europe and Asia Minor on acidic soils in open sunny situations and in moderate shade...

 Calluna vulgaris and the uncommon annual knawel
Scleranthus
Scleranthus, the knawels, are a genus of herbaceous plants in the carnation family.Species include:*Scleranthus annuus L. , native to Africa, Europe, Asia and naturalised elsewhere....

 Scleranthus annuus. Two Red Data Book (RDB) plants occur on the Plain. The largest population in Britain of tuberous thistle
Cirsium
Cirsium is a genus of perennial and biennial flowering plants in the Asteraceae, one of several genera known commonly as thistles. They are more accurately known as Plume thistles. These differ from other thistle genera in having feathered hairs to their achenes...

 Cirsium tuberosum occurs on the western ranges and is notable for the low incidence of hybridisation with dwarf thistle, a contributory cause of its decline in other localities. Meadow clary
Salvia pratensis
Salvia pratensis is a herbaceous perennial in the family Lamiaceae, native to Europe, western Asia and northern Africa. The specific epithet pratensis refers to its tendency to grow in meadows...

 Salvia pratensis persists as a small colony in tall upright brome grassland.

Salisbury Plain supports a diverse bryophyte
Bryophyte
Bryophyte is a traditional name used to refer to all embryophytes that do not have true vascular tissue and are therefore called 'non-vascular plants'. Some bryophytes do have specialized tissues for the transport of water; however since these do not contain lignin, they are not considered to be...

 flora with seven nationally scarce species which have seen a general decline in other chalk grassland sites, including Barbula acuta, Phascum curvicolle, Pleurochaete squarrosa, Thuidium abietinum and Weissia sterilis.

Although there is some scrub development on the Plain, it is remarkable that large expanses of the chalk grassland remain open with very little invasion of woody species. Of particular interest are the large stands of juniper
Juniper
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the...

 Juniperus communis on Bulford Downs and Beacon Hill. Both pyramidal and prostrate forms are present and this site, along with Porton Down SSSI to the south, supports the best remaining examples of the lowland type of juniper associated with chalk and mixed scrub in England.

Insects

The botanically and structurally diverse grasslands support a large range of rare and uncommon chalk downland invertebrates. Where abundance has been assessed strong populations of national and local importance are present, and the large area of habitat available to them is important in ensuring their survival.
Butterflies
The Plain is an important stronghold for declining downland butterflies. A high concentration of colonies of three nationally scarce species, the Adonis Blue
Adonis Blue
The Adonis Blue is a butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.-Habitat:The preferred habitat of the adonis blue is calcareous grasslands with hot and dry conditions.-Species decline:...

 Polyommatus bellargus, Duke of Burgundy
Hamearis lucina
Hamearis lucina, known as the Duke of Burgundy, is a European butterfly in the family Riodinidae. For many years, it was known as the "Duke of Burgundy Fritillary", because of the adult's similar markings to "true" fritillaries of the family Nymphalidae.-Description:The male has a wingspan of , and...

 Hamearis lucina, and the largest population of Marsh Fritillary
Marsh Fritillary
The Marsh Fritillary, Euphydryas aurinia, is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family.It is widespread in the Palaearctic region from Ireland in the West to Yakutia in the East, and to North-west China and Mongolia in the South.E. aurinia is represented by many subspecies.The most widely accepted...

 Euphydryas aurinia on the chalk, occur. A colony of Brown Hairstreak
Brown Hairstreak
The Brown Hairstreak is a butterfly in the family Lycaenidae. The range includes most of the Palaearctic.-Subspecies:...

 Thecla betulae is present on East Salisbury Plain at one of its two Wiltshire localities. Strong populations of other downland species such as Chalkhill Blue
Chalkhill Blue
The Chalkhill Blue is a butterfly in the family Lycaenidae.Males have pale silvery-blue wings with black and white border . Females are dark brown, also with the black and white borders...

 Polyommatus coridon and Dark Green Fritillary
Dark Green Fritillary
The Dark Green Fritillary is a butterfly of the Nymphalidae family.The insect has a wide range in the Palearctic ecozone - Europe, Morocco, Iran , Siberia, Central Asia, China, Korea and Japan.-Subspecies:...

 Argynnis aglaja are found, and of note here is the occurrence of Grayling
Grayling (butterfly)
The Grayling is a species in the brush-footed butterfly family Nymphalidae. It sometimes occurs in coastal areas of northeast Scotland such as the Fowlsheugh Nature Reserve. It can also be found near the coast around England, such as Fire Beacon Hill...

 Hipparchia semele, a butterfly rarely found away from the coast.

Moths

An outstanding assemblage of two rare (RDB), 36 nationally scarce and two regionally notable moths are present, most of which are either chalk grassland specialists or are partly dependent on chalk grassland. The RDB species Scarce Forester
Zygaenidae
The Zygaenidae moths are a family of Lepidoptera. The majority of zygaenids are tropical, but they are nevertheless quite well represented in temperate regions. There are about 1000 species. Various species are commonly known as Burnet or Forester moths, often qualified by the number of spots,...

 Adscita globulariae is present, and amongst many species of nationally scarce moths are the Cistus Forester
Zygaenidae
The Zygaenidae moths are a family of Lepidoptera. The majority of zygaenids are tropical, but they are nevertheless quite well represented in temperate regions. There are about 1000 species. Various species are commonly known as Burnet or Forester moths, often qualified by the number of spots,...

 Adscita geryon, Six-belted Clearwing
Bembecia ichneumoniformis
The Six-belted Clearwing is a moth of the Sesiidae family. It is found in most of Europe and Asia Minor, the Caucasus, northern Iran and the Near East....

 Bembecia scopigera, Oblique Striped
Phibalapteryx virgata
The Oblique Striped is a moth of the family Geometridae. It is found throughout Europe.The length of the forewings is 22–25 mm. The moth resembles Orthonama vittata, but has a lighter colour...

 Phibalapteryx virgata, Pimpernel Pug Eupithecia pimpinellata, Shaded Pug
Eupithecia subumbrata
The Shaded Pug is a moth of the Geometridae family. It is found from Mongolia and the Altai Mountains through Siberia, central Asia, Asia Minor and Russia to western Europe and from central Scandinavia to the Mediterranean Region....

 Eupithecia subumbrata and Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk Moth
Hemaris tityus
Hemaris tityus, the Narrow-bordered Bee Hawk-moth, is one of two similar species of sphingid moth occurring in Britain that closely mimic a bumblebee. It has a wide range, from Ireland across temperate Europe to the Ural Mountains, western Siberia, Novosibirsk and the Altai...

 Hemaris tityus. Larvae of these moths feed on the chalk grassland plants which are widespread on the Plain. Other nationally scarce moths such as Orange-tailed Clearwing
Synanthedon andrenaeformis
The Orange-tailed Clearwing is a moth of the Sesiidae family. It is known from most of Europe. It is also present in the Near East.The wingspan is 18-22 mm. Adults are on wing between May and June in western Europe....

 Synanthedon anthraciniformis depend on the associated scrub habitats.

Bees

The bee fauna is particularly rich in species which depend on chalk grassland. One of only two British populations of the endangered (RDB) mining bee
Melitta (genus)
The bee genus Melitta is a small group, with some 40 species, restricted to Africa and the northern temperate zone. Most of the species are Palaearctic, though three rare species occur in North America....

 Melitta dimidiata is present on the Plain, and two other RDB species which occur are Andrena hattorfiana and its nest parasite the Cuckoo Bee
Cuckoo bee
The term cuckoo bee is used for a variety of different bee lineages which have evolved the kleptoparasitic habit of laying their eggs in the nests of other bees, reminiscent of the behavior of cuckoo birds. The name is technically best applied to the apid subfamily Nomadinae...

 Nomada armata. This is a rare inland site for the nationally scarce Tawny Bumble Bee
Brown-banded carder bee
The brown-banded carder bee, Bombus humilis, is a bumblebee found in most of Europe west of Russia, with the exception of Ireland and Iceland. It is also found in Turkey, on the Tibetan plateau and in northern China....

 Bombus humilis.

Flies

The Diptera
Diptera
Diptera , or true flies, is the order of insects possessing only a single pair of wings on the mesothorax; the metathorax bears a pair of drumstick like structures called the halteres, the remnants of the hind wings. It is a large order, containing an estimated 240,000 species, although under half...

 (flies) include four RDB species which depend on chalk grassland, the picture-wing flies Chaetorellia loricata, Urophora solstitialis and Terellia vectensis and the hover fly
Hoverfly
Hoverflies, sometimes called flower flies or syrphid flies, make up the insect family Syrphidae. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae eat a wide range of foods...

 Volucella inflata.
.
Crustaceans
Recent observations have shown that Salisbury Plain is an important site for the RDB crustacean, the Fairy Shrimp
Fairy shrimp
Anostraca is one of the four orders of crustaceans in the class Branchiopoda; its members are also known as fairy shrimp. They are usually long . Most species have 20 body segments, bearing 11 pairs of leaf-like phyllopodia , and the body lacks a carapace...

 Chirocephalus diaphanus which is dependent on temporary pools, a rare and declining habitat. On the Plain this habitat requirement is met by numerous pools created by repeated tank movements along the earth tracks which cross the chalk grassland.

Others

Other nationally scarce invertebrates occur within the Orthoptera
Orthoptera
Orthoptera is an order of insects with paurometabolous or incomplete metamorphosis, including the grasshoppers, crickets and locusts.Many insects in this order produce sound by rubbing their wings against each other or their legs, the wings or legs containing rows of corrugated bumps...

 (grasshoppers and crickets), Heteroptera
Heteroptera
Heteroptera is a group of about 40,000 species of insects in the Hemiptera. Sometimes called "true bugs", that name more commonly refers to Hemiptera as a whole, and "typical bugs" might be used as a more unequivocal alternative since among the Hemiptera the heteropterans are most consistently and...

 (bugs) and Coleoptera (beetles), the latter group including a RDB soldier beetle
Soldier beetle
The soldier beetles, Cantharidae, are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles, related to the Lampyridae or firefly family, but being unable to produce light. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One common British species is bright red, reminding people of the red coats of soldiers, hence...

, Cantharis fusca.

Birds

The area as a whole is of national and international importance for breeding and wintering birds. It supports seven species listed on Annex 1 of the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds, populations of six species of Red Data bird and several species of candidate Red Data bird. Amongst the breeding birds three species are particularly noteworthy. Up to 20 pairs of Stone Curlew
Stone Curlew
The Stone Curlew, Eurasian Thick-knee, or Eurasian Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus is a northern species of the Burhinidae bird family....

 representing 12% of the British population breed on the Plain. The area accounts for approximately 20% of breeding records for Quail
Quail
Quail is a collective name for several genera of mid-sized birds generally considered in the order Galliformes. Old World quail are found in the family Phasianidae, while New World quail are found in the family Odontophoridae...

 in Britain each year, and numbers of breeding Hobby are thought to exceed 1% of the British population on a regular basis. Other important breeding species include Buzzard
Buzzard
A buzzard is one of several large birds, but there are a number of meanings as detailed below.-Old World:In the Old World Buzzard can mean:* One of several medium-sized, wide-ranging raptors with a robust body and broad wings....

, Barn Owl
Barn Owl
The Barn Owl is the most widely distributed species of owl, and one of the most widespread of all birds. It is also referred to as Common Barn Owl, to distinguish it from other species in the barn-owl family Tytonidae. These form one of two main lineages of living owls, the other being the typical...

, Long-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl
The Long-eared Owl - Asio otus is a species of owl which breeds in Europe, Asia, and North America. This species is a part of the larger grouping of owls known as typical owls, family Strigidae, which contains most species of owl...

, Nightingale
Nightingale
The Nightingale , also known as Rufous and Common Nightingale, is a small passerine bird that was formerly classed as a member of the thrush family Turdidae, but is now more generally considered to be an Old World flycatcher, Muscicapidae...

, Stonechat, Whinchat
Whinchat
The Whinchat Saxicola rubetra is a small migratory passerine bird breeding in Europe and western Asia and wintering in Africa.Its scientific name means "small rock-dweller", in reference to its habitat...

, Wheatear
Wheatear
The wheatears are passerine birds of the genus Oenanthe. They were formerly considered to be members of the thrush family Turdidae, but are now more commonly placed in the flycatcher family Muscicapidae...

, Corn Bunting
Corn Bunting
The Corn Bunting, Miliaria calandra, is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae, a group now separated by most modern authors from the finches, Fringillidae...

 and, on occasion, Montagu's Harrier
Montagu's Harrier
The Montagu's Harrier is a migratory bird of prey of the harrier family. Its common name commemorates the British naturalist George Montagu.-Plumage:...

.
The overall breeding assemblage is exceptionally diverse for a British dry grassland site. In winter the Plain is an important area for foraging flocks of thrushes, finches and buntings. These, together with abundant small mammals are prey for wintering Hen Harrier
Hen Harrier
The Hen Harrier or Northern Harrier is a bird of prey. It breeds throughout the northern parts of the northern hemisphere in Canada and the northernmost USA, and in northern Eurasia. This species is polytypic, with two subspecies. Marsh Hawk is a historical name for the American form.It migrates...

, Merlin
Merlin (bird)
The Merlin is a small species of falcon from the Northern Hemisphere. A bird of prey once known colloquially as a pigeon hawk in North America, the Merlin breeds in the northern Holarctic; some migrate to subtropical and northern tropical regions in winter.-European and North American...

 and Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl
The Short-eared Owl is a species of typical owl . In Scotland this species of owl is often referred to as a cataface, grass owl or short-horned hootlet. Owls belonging to genus Asio are known as the eared owls, as they have tufts of feathers resembling mammalian ears. These "ear" tufts may or may...

. Hen Harriers occur in nationally significant numbers each winter, and the Plain is an important winter roost for this species in southern England.
In 2003 the Great Bustard
Great Bustard
The Great Bustard is in the bustard family, the only member of the genus Otis. It breeds in southern and central Europe, where it is the largest species of bird, and across temperate Asia...

 was reintroduced into Britain on Salisbury Plain.

Snakes and Amphibians

Other species of interest on Salisbury Plain include the Great Crested Newt
Great Crested Newt
The Great Crested Newt, also called Northern Crested Newt or Warty Newt is a newt in the family Salamandridae, found across Europe and parts of Asia.-Distribution:...

 Triturus cristatus. This newt occurs in dew ponds across the Plain and in pools along the River Winterbourne, together with smooth newt
Smooth Newt
The Smooth Newt, also known as the Common Newt, Lissotriton vulgaris is the most common newt species of the Lissotriton genus of amphibians. L...

 Triturus vulgaris, common frog
Common Frog
The Common Frog, Rana temporaria also known as the European Common Frog or European Common Brown Frog is found throughout much of Europe as far north as well north of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia and as far east as the Urals, except for most of Iberia, southern Italy, and the southern Balkans...

 Rana temporia and common toad
Common Toad
The common toad or European toad is an amphibian widespread throughout Europe, with the exception of Iceland, Ireland and some Mediterranean islands...

 Bufo bufo. Grass snake
Grass Snake
The grass snake , sometimes called the ringed snake or water snake is a European non-venomous snake. It is often found near water and feeds almost exclusively on amphibians.-Etymology:...

 Natrix natrix are also often seen near pools, and common lizard Lacerta vivipara, slow worm Anguis fragilis and adder
Vipera berus
Vipera berus, the common European adder or common European viper, is a venomous viper species that is extremely widespread and can be found throughout most of Western Europe and all the way to Far East Asia. Known by a host of common names including Common adder and Common viper, adders have been...

 Vipera berus are present.

Cultural references

The plain has featured in the writings of William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

, Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy, OM was an English novelist and poet. While his works typically belong to the Naturalism movement, several poems display elements of the previous Romantic and Enlightenment periods of literature, such as his fascination with the supernatural.While he regarded himself primarily as a...

, William Henry Hudson
William Henry Hudson
William Henry Hudson was an author, naturalist, and ornithologist.- Life and work :Hudson was born in the Quilmes, a borough of the greater Buenos Aires, in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina, son of settlers of U.S. origin...

 and A. G. Street
A. G. Street
Arthur George Street , who wrote under the name of A. G. Street, was an English farmer, writer and broadcaster. His books were published by the literary publishing house of Faber and Faber...

, and in the paintings of John Constable
John Constable
John Constable was an English Romantic painter. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home—now known as "Constable Country"—which he invested with an intensity of affection...

. It is also used in The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 movie Help!
Help! (film)
Help! is a 1965 film directed by Richard Lester, starring The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr—and featuring Leo McKern, Eleanor Bron, Victor Spinetti, John Bluthal, Roy Kinnear and Patrick Cargill. Help! was the second feature film made by the Beatles and is a...

as they sing "The Night Before" and "I Need You".

It is also the setting of a scene in John Boorman
John Boorman
John Boorman is a British filmmaker who is a long time resident of Ireland and is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General and The Tailor of Panama.-Early life:Boorman was born in Shepperton, Surrey,...

's film Catch Us If You Can
Catch Us If You Can (film)
Catch Us If You Can was the feature-film debut of director John Boorman...

when the film's hero, pop star Dave Clark
Dave Clark (musician)
David 'Dave' Clark is an English musician, songwriter and record producer. He was the leader and drummer of the 1960s beat group The Dave Clark Five, the first big British Invasion band to follow The Beatles to America in 1964....

, encounters a group of sinister beatniks in a deserted village used as target practice by the British Army. It is also mentioned in Ayreon
Ayreon
Ayreon is a project by Dutch composer and musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen.Ayreon's musical style derives mostly from heavy metal and progressive rock, but combines them with genres like folk, classical and electronica...

 song "And the Druids Turn to Stone". In the Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan
Gilbert and Sullivan refers to the Victorian-era theatrical partnership of the librettist W. S. Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan . The two men collaborated on fourteen comic operas between 1871 and 1896, of which H.M.S...

 opera Iolanthe
Iolanthe
Iolanthe; or, The Peer and the Peri is a comic opera with music by Arthur Sullivan and libretto by W. S. Gilbert. It is one of the Savoy operas and is the seventh collaboration of the fourteen between Gilbert and Sullivan....

, the Lord Chancellor has a nightmare in which he is crossing the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

 in a steamer, which changes to a 4-wheel vehicle, and finally he is "Crossing Salisbury Plain on a bicycle".

Billy Bragg makes mention of Salisbury Plain in the song "Island of No Return".

Salisbury Plain is also marked as the location of a Piece of Eden in the video game Assassins Creed.

In the episode One of Us
One of Us (Yes, Prime Minister)
“One of Us” is the eighth episode of the BBC comedy series Yes, Prime Minister and was first broadcast 27 February 1986.- Plot :Jim Hacker gets back to his apartment above 10 Downing Street just in time to sit down with his wife, Annie, and watch the end of a television news bulletin...

 of the British television series Yes, Prime Minister, a lost dog on Salisbury Plain becomes a crucial plot point.

See also

  • British Army Training Unit Suffield
    British Army Training Unit Suffield
    The British Army Training Unit Suffield is a British Army unit located at the vast training area of Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Alberta, Canada...

  • Geology of the United Kingdom
  • Marconi's Law
    Marconi's law
    Marconi's law is the relation between height of antennae and maximum signalling distance. Guglielmo Marconi enunciated at one time an empirical law that, for simple vertical sending and receiving antennae of equal height, the maximum working telegraphic distance varied as the square of the height...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK