Ketton from Collyweston
Welland valley south west of Ketton
Collyweston from Ketton
The countryside around Ketton is defined by the topography of two river valleys - that of the River Welland and that of the lesser River Chater. The Welland has created a steep escarpment which runs to the south east of Ketton towards Stamford. This has two villages at its top - Collyweston and Easton-on-the-Hill, both of which are over the county border in Northamptonshire.
Ketton lies largely within the valley of the Chater, mainly to the north west. However, the hamlets of Aldgate and Geeston are situated on a spur of land rising between the two valleys. It was through this spur that the railway line was cut in the 1840s.
The undulating countryside consists of arable land, both for crops and pasture, with woodland areas. The area around the village is well-wooded as can be seen from the photograph below. The recreational woods of Fineshade and Wakerley lie about 3 miles to the south and are remanants of the former Rockingham Forest.
The high ground to the north west, which is known as Witchley Warren or Heath, features limestone grasslands, woodlands and arable land, as well as the vast quarry pits of the cement works.
The quarry is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and contains numerous fossils including ammonites, corals, brachiopods, bivalves, fish and repitle remains. More on geology and fossils
Areas of old quarry workings off Pit Lane are now managed by the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust as an open-access nature reserve. The site covers 27.5 hectares and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The combination of calcareous grassland, scrub and woodland forms an exceptional habitat for a wide variety of animals and plants. Species present in the grassland include butterflies such as marbled white and grizzled and dingy skippers, many rare moths, glowworm, common lizard and adder. Many flowering plants are present, too, like bee orchid, cowslip, yellow-wort, autumn gentian, viper's bugloss and carline thistle. The scrub provides valuable habitat for birds such us nightingale and turtle dove. The beech wood contains the only colony of yellow bird's-nest in Leicestershire and Rutland. This plant has no chlorophyll but lives on leaf mould.
south west of Ketton
The name Witchley originates from the East and West Witchley Hundreds which, in 1086, were part of north Northamptonshire. Wytchley Warren Farm, Wytchley Warren Long Covert and Wytchley Warren Spinney on today’s maps mark the site of Wichele which was within the Forest of Rutland in the medieval period. When Edward I relinquished the eastern part of the forest he retained Witchley as his personal property, the only royal warren in Rutland. A warren was an area of land used to breed rabbits for food, and it was usually owned by the lord of the manor, who employed a warrener to look after it.
Following a boundary change, the Witchley Hundreds became East Hundred and Wrangdike Hundred in the south-east part of Rutland. Witchley Heath, which covered an area bounded by Ketton, Normanton and Empingham is shown on Morden’s 1684 map and other seventeenth and eighteenth century maps of Rutland. Witches Heath, a corruption of Witchley Heath, is shown on Kitchin and Jeffery’s map of 1751.
This area of heathland later became known variously as Normanton Heath, Ketton Heath and Empingham Heath. The name Witchley, or Wytchley to give it its alternate spelling, lives on in Wytchley Warren Farm, halfway along the road from Ketton to Normanton, and in Wytchley Road in the estate off Empingham Road.