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A fascinating common in Pembrokeshire is now receiving the care and attention it deserves.
Plumstone Rock is the most prominent feature of the 145-hectare Plumstone Mountain common including the adjoining Dudwell Mountain, 1.5 kilometres south of Hayscastle Cross in Pembrokeshire. The outcrop commands fine views, from the Preseli Mountains to the Bristol Channel.
The land is a designated site of special scientific interest for its dry heath, wet heath, and marshy grassland which form important habitats. It is also access land.
The society has long been involved with Plumstone Mountain common. In 1986, with help from Swansea solicitor Edward Harris, we persuaded the then Dyfed County Council to take action against unlawful fencing on the common. Commoners had enclosed the land and were claiming ownership.
Edward found that, in the mid-nineteenth century, much of the common belonged to a James Griffiths who married the daughter of Lord Milford, a local grandee. Edward traced the ownership through the generations and learnt that the last surviving owner, James Griffiths Henry, died intestate in 1963.
A relative, Evan James Henry from Winona, Minnesota, USA, had meanwhile asked solicitors in Haverfordwest to look into the ownership of the common. Advised by Edward, Evan applied to the court for letters of administration to act as trustee of the common. As one trustee cannot act alone, Evan appointed our general secretary as co-trustee in view of the society’s interest in the common.
On 15 May 1992 the society and three generations of the Henry family celebrated the confirmation of their trusteeship on the common.
Thirty years on Evan’s son James S Henry, from Sag Harbor, New York, is taking an active interest in the land. With the society, he called a meeting last November of those who care about the common—ecologists and archaeologists, and local people. Plumstone is much loved, for recreation and nature study.
Jim has commissioned a management plan from ecologist Jon Hudson so that we can manage and maintain the site in good condition, for instance by promoting appropriate grazing levels. We want to provide the best opportunities for public access and enjoyment here.
We hope to establish a friends’ group, to watch over the land, help to implement the management plan, carry out surveys of flora, fauna, and archaeology, and ensure that the common can be enjoyed for informal recreation.