Shapwick Heath

Shapwick Heath
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Straight watercourse running between flat grassy fields.
Location within Somerset
Area of Search Somerset
Grid reference ST430403
Coordinates 51°09′33″N 2°48′52″W / 51.1591°N 2.8144°W / 51.1591; -2.8144Coordinates: 51°09′33″N 2°48′52″W / 51.1591°N 2.8144°W / 51.1591; -2.8144
Interest Biological
Area 394 hectares (3.94 km2; 1.52 sq mi)
Notification 1967 (1967)
Natural England website

Shapwick Heath is a 394.0-hectare (973.6 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and national nature reserve[1] between Shapwick and Westhay in Somerset, notified in 1967. It is part of the Brue Valley Living Landscape conservation project. The project commenced in January 2009 and aims to restore, recreate and reconnect habitat. It aims to ensure that wildlife is enhanced and capable of sustaining itself in the face of climate change[2] while guaranteeing farmers and other landowners can continue to use their land profitably. It is one of an increasing number of landscape scale conservation projects in the UK.[3][4][5]

Shapwick Heath, part of the Avalon Marshes in the Somerset Levels Wetlands, and managed as a national nature reserve by Natural England, is a former raised bog lying in the basin of the River Brue. The site supports a diverse community of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. National rarities are the Greater Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) and the Lesser Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrochara caraboides) which is now confined nationally to the Brue Basin Peat Moors.[6]

The Sweet Track, an ancient causeway crosses the site. It is one of the oldest engineered roads known and the oldest timber trackway discovered in Northern Europe.

The adjoining Shapwick Moor has been purchased by the Hawk and Owl Trust as a reserve.


  1. "Shapwick Heath NNR". Natural England. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
  2. Brue Valley Living Landscape
  3. A Living Landscape - The Wildlife Trusts
  4. RSPB landscape conservation
  5. Natural England Future Landscapes
  6. "SSSI notification" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 2015-12-10.
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