Location and Context
The Magnesian limestone landscape character type is located the south-east corner of the area. It includes the area underlain by Magnesian limestone, and adjacent areas which are strongly influenced by the limestone geology in terms of landform and buildings. This LCT is part of a much larger LCT which extends well beyond the boundary of the DVLP Area.
- Underlain by Magnesian Dolomitic limestone, which can be seen on the surface in cliffs, quarries and in buildings.
- Dramatic topography, including Barnburgh Cliff (the edge of the limestone scarp) and Sprotbrough Gorge (where the River Don passes through the limestone scarp).
- Extensive areas of steep woodland on the gorge sides and along Barnburgh cliff. The woodland also merges with parkland trees around Hickleton and High Melton.
- Limited agriculture within this part of the LCT, although there is some arable farming in large, regular hedged fields around Cadeby.
- The railway viaduct across Sprotbrough Gorge is a dramatic and distinctive structure.
- Strong influence of past and ongoing large-scale limestone quarrying around Cadeby.
- Rural villages of High Melton, Barnburgh and Hickleton contain churches and vernacular buildings of local stone. Prominent square church towers are skyline landmarks.
- Strong Estate influence (parkland, country houses, estate churches and villages), particularly around High Melton and Hickleton
- Very little modern built development or evidence of mining (outside Sprotbrough Gorge).
- The wooded cliff creates a backdrop and skyline for the Lowland Valley Floor and Open Coalfield Farmland LCTs in the eastern part of the area.
Historic Landscape Character
The South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation shows a variety of historic landscape patterns within the Magnesian Limestone LCT. Includes: Private parkland; Agglomerated enclosure; Wetland enclosure (valley floor Sprotbrough Gorge); Extractive
Perceptual and Special Qualities
Despite its steep topography, the Magnesian Limestone LCT is has a gentle, affluent quality created by the estate-influenced parklands, woodlands, walls and picturesque villages. The effect is particularly striking because of the contrast with the adjacent Open Coalfield Farmland with its large arable fields and mining settlements.
Nevertheless there are strong visual connections between the limestone and adjacent LCTs, with the long wooded Limestone scarp forming the backdrop to views from surrounding lower land. The elevation of the Magnesian Limestone LCT creates long views westwards over the Open Coalfield Farmland and Lowland Valley Floor, and gives it a sense of space.
The dramatic topography of Sprotbrough Gorge is highlighted by the magnificent railway viaduct which spans it. Views west from the viaduct are of Conisbrough and the Dearne Valley, with Conisbrough Castle and steep woodlands prominent features. Views east, whilst still dramatic, are strongly influenced by Cadeby quarry and reclaimed mining spoil on the northern valley side.
Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites
Despite the small size of the Magnesian Limestone LCT, there are several cultural sites which reflect the area’s social and industrial history.
- Sprotbrough Gorge and railway viaduct.
- Magnificent views towards Conisbrough Castle (Scheduled Monument).
- Valley-floor industrial transport features: railway line and canal towpath.
- Designed Estate parkland at High Melton and Hickleton surrounding Country Houses. The grounds of Melton Hall include an Ice House and the site of Wildthorpe Medieval Village (both Scheduled Monuments). Hickleton Park is Listed Grade II on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens)
- Attractive rural villages, largely built out of local limestone. Barnburgh contains a high number of vernacular agricultural buildings. Hickleton has more of an estate character, with estate cottages and an elaborate church. Hickleton, Barnburgh and High Melton all contain Conservation Areas.
- Cadeby Quarry and Edlington Brick Pits are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their limestone geology. Sprotbrough Gorge is designated an SSSI for its calcareous woodland (wych elm, ash and sycamore), and also its valley floor wetland and limestone grassland (just outside the DVGHP Area).
- Sprotbrough Flash Nature Reserve is to the east of this LCT, and can be reached from it along the old towpath beside the River Don.
Forces for Change and Threats to the Landscape
- Past and ongoing quarrying of limestone at Cadeby has a major landscape and visual impact.
- Past intensification of arable farming leading to loss of habitats such as hedgerows.
- Pylons between Barnburgh and High Melton, and the wind turbines east of Hickleton are prominent vertical features in the landscape.
- Fly tipping and litter creates a localised untidy and degraded appearance to the landscape.
- Pressure for new housing development in villages could reduce the character and quality of the existing built environment.
- Loss of character of vernacular agricultural buildings due to conversion to housing.
- Potential future impacts of climate change, e.g. increased flood risk, changes in woodland species composition, changes in arable crop choice, growing seasons etc.