Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons: The Cotswolds countryside where butterflies roam and stones cure smallpox

Some of the prettiest open spaces in the Cotswolds make the grade in Annunciata Elwes' series on Secret Britain.

These 828 acres of hills above the Stroud Valleys and Severn Vale are adorned with fluttering large blue butterflies, successfully reintroduced after 40 years of extinction in the UK, plus the rare Duke of Burgundy.

A misty day in November at Rodborough Common, Gloucestershire.

More than 100 species of grasses and wildflowers, from short-lived pasqueflowers in spring to summer bee orchids and autumn gentians, make this an internationally important site.

There’s historical significance, too, on Minchinhampton, with mile-long earthworks from the Iron Age Belgic Dobunni tribe, a long barrow named for an 18th-century preacher, Second World War glider-trap remains and a standing stone that can apparently cure smallpox. Though in the case of the latter it’s probably best to rely on your local GP for all your smallpox needs…

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