Wildlife and history of Knettishall Heath

Dropwort Field mouse ear Harebell
Wild thyme Purple milk vetch Stemless thistle

Knettishall Heath sits at the north of the county, near Thetford, in the heart of the Brecks, it is the largest of Suffolk Wildlife Trust's 50 nature reserves. Very few places are this special; its importance for wildlife is reflected in the fact that much of Knettishall Heath's 434 acres are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


The variety of habitats at Knettishall support several important bird species, notably: woodlark, yellow hammer, stonechat, skylark, curlew, marsh tit, linnet, song thrush, nuthatch and turtle dove. Habitat restoration is currently being undertaken to improve the reserve for nightjar and other species.


Important species include: lunar yellow underwing, square spotted clay, buttoned snout, rosy marbled, blue-fleabane conch, broad-bordered bee hawk moth.


Purple hairstreak, white letter hairstreak, small heath and white admiral have been recorded.


Dropwort, large thyme, purple milk-vetch, common rockrose, field mouse-ear, rare spring-sedge, tufted sedge, pill sedge, harebell.

Reptiles & amphibians

Grass snake, slow worm and common lizard are all present on the Breck heath. Adder sightings are occasional and any records are welcome.

Great-crested newt and common toad have been recorded in the marl pits.


The most striking soil features at Knettishall Heath are the polygons or stone stripes of alternating calcareous and acid soils, reflecting the depth of the sand above the underlying chalk. The good condition of this periglacial patterned ground has resulted in the site being designated as a County Geological Site. Furthermore, GeoSuffolk now recognise the site as the best remaining example of patterned ground in the county and would like to designate a defined area as a Regionally Important Geological Site (RIGS).


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