A quarter of a century ago, as a geography teacher, I used to take students in Chester to a local open land known as Edgar’s Field. It has a Roman provenance in the form of an old sandstone quarry and a shrine to one of their Goddesses, Minerva. A favourite spot was near the River Dee where an Old Red Sandstone outcrop displayed wonderful current bedding from when it was laid down hundreds of millions of years ago. Chester, like the rest of Europe was further south in those days and a desert.
One day at the rocky face I noticed a plant at my feet. It was like clover but as if some vandal had dripped creosote into the middle of each one. That was before the internet so I took a sample to the Queen’s Park High School library and found it was a Spotted Medick. The Romans had used it for medicinal (hence Medick) purposes – probably as a soothing tonic for it has antibacterial properties. The Spotted Medick isn’t rare but is quite uncommon in Cheshire and the North West of England.
Imagine my wonder when I realized the patch at my feet might be from herbal plantings of the Romans.
Imagine my dismay earlier this year when I found it had been cleared away. The Friends of Edgar’s Field committee thought it would cheer folk up to plant narcissi there instead. To be fair the area had become overgrown and the haunt of the greater spotted drug user, so the committee did well to change the field for the good. Grants came their way and with the council a new playground has been developed. I can’t wait to take my grandkids to play there.
I contacted Steve Rogers the chair of the Friends of Edgar’s Field and he said my alert to the plight of the Spotted Medick is welcome and timely. They will endeavor to protect the remaining patches.
The patch in the photo comes from a transplanted group in my garden. Just in case the grass is cut too short in Edgar’s Field.