Potential damage from woodland fauna to archaeological evidence in woodland

The entrance of a badger set dug into a burial moundArchaeological literature contains many references to animal-induced site damage. Examples include erosion caused by the overgrazing of sheep, cattle, burrowing damage by rabbits and badgers. Where trees are present in conjunction with livestock, they may be used for shade, shelter or as scratching posts and this has occurred on earthworks such as large burial mounds where a few trees grow on the summit. Here the trees will act as a focal point for any grazing animals that have access to them.

Many woodlands now contain open areas designed to increase their biodiversity and ecological value. Where a woodland is to have a glade created, and archaeological evidence exists, there may be a desire to combine the two by creating the glade around the feature. Where both occur together, fences may be needed to exclude larger animals from the feature. Glade creation will often attract an increased number of deer and many burrowing mammals prefer open ground with adjacent woodland shelter rather than dense canopy cover. Other site factors such as soil type, drainage and geographical location will also have an influence on the mammal species that will utilise the site. Depending on the type of archaeological feature, the active encouragement of mammal species may not be complementary to its conservation.

More detailed information about individual species is available in the downloadable Forests and Archaeology review document.