Eighty-two acres of elevated coastal heathland is currently for sale in the northern part of Norfolk in England. Known as Barrow Common, the property is selling for £500,000 ($625,000).
The Norfolk Wildlife Trust describes the area as being primarily an acid grassland, with hawthorn, gorse, and bracken scrub. Some portions are wooded, and the Common also has what’s left of an old chalk pit and a sand quarry that’s fallen out of use.
Barrow Common gets its name from the presence of a round barrow that’s believed to date from the Bronze Age. In 1952, the site was found to have middle- to late-Bronze age pottery and charcoal, as well as some Roman pottery. Later, metal detectors found coins from the medieval era, as well as Roman coinage.
During World War II the height of the area and its view of the coast made it a spot of strategic importance, and a radar station and concrete air raid bunker were built there.
Those features notwithstanding, the area is essentially pristine, and has been deemed an Area of Outstanding Beauty, according to the Eastern Daily Press.
Most of its 82 acres are considered common land, and is used by many holders of common rights. Three public roads offer access to all manner of nature enthusiasts, from people walking their dogs to birdwatchers and stargazers.
The fact that its common land means that it doesn’t really have potential for commercial development, but the people behind the sale believe it will be attractive to nature groups or a public collaboration that could hold it as a community asset in the name of preservation.
Although other public land have come up for sale before, Barrow Common is much larger than any properties that have hit the market previously.
The area has a substantial amount of diversity in its flora and contains many species of vegetation that favor acidic soil conditions, such as sheep’s sorrel, heath bedstraw, and wavy hair grass.
There are also patches of flowering plants such as poppies, scarlet pimpernel, and harebells. The wooded portions of Barrow Common have an entirely different variety of ground flora and more than a dozen varieties of trees, including fruit-bearing types such as apple, lime, and sweet chestnut trees. Additionally, the forest is also home to a number of bird species and at least five types of bats.
The radar station sits on the north crest of the hill, and is a concrete construction of three rooms, with the bunker next to it and a slit trench nearby for defense or practice maneuvers.
It was built in 1940 as a coastal defense station to spot aircraft, particularly low-flying aircraft, which wanted to attack the area, and was manned by Royal Air Force personnel and four naval ratings, whose job it was to plot ships.
There were also four Army observers stationed there as part of the 80-person staff. The station was part of a network of such sites, all situated for their clear and unimpeded views of the sea.
The property is undeniably pricey for a plot without much commercial use. It is currently being used by the National Trust and the Norfolk Wildife Trust for environmental and wildlife surveillance, as well as by individuals who favor the area for walking and other outdoor activities.
It’s possible that the bunker could be renovated and converted into some type of event space, according to one of the land agents attached to the property company handling the sale.
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Doing so would allow it to generate at least a little revenue, but the main draw for any buyer or buyers will have to be the simple desire to own such a beautiful part of the region.