THE history of the moss on Ilkley Moor is being traced back to the ice age in a survey being carried out by experts.

Associate Professor Graeme Swindles, of the University of Leeds, School of Geography, has been out on the moss with colleagues and students preparing for the field survey.

And last week committee members of the Friends of Ilkley Moor and staff of Bradford Council Countryside Services and Drainage section visited Crawshaw Moss on Ilkley moor at his invitation.

A spokesman said: “By taking peat cores he hopes to build up a history of the moss since the last ice age. He and colleagues will also be looking at the hydrology of the moss by monitoring water levels over the next few months. It is hoped that he will then be able to make recommendations to the Countryside Service on how best the moss should be managed in the future to secure its ecology, help retain water on the moor and prevent excessive run-off.

The Friends of Ilkley Moor have donated £600 to the research.

The spokesman said: “This will enable Dr Swindles to carbon date the peat cores taken from the moss to help give a clear picture of what stages the moss has gone through over the past 8000 or more years. Cores taken down to two metres on the field visit showed that the moss, now a peat bog had gone through phases of woodland, swamp and fen since the last ice age. There were also strata of charcoal showing that wildfires on forest and moorland have been happening for millennia.”