Do you know how they made nappies 200 years ago, or how to make rope from moss?  How do sundews capture their prey?  Local school children are finding out answers to these questions and much more.

The answers lie in the 'bog', specifically Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve, the largest raised bog in the UK, just 7 miles west of Stirling, in the heart of the Carse of Stirling, near Thornhill.

The view from the Observation Tower at the Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve

Use your mouse to scroll the panorama left or right (or swipe if you are using a touch sensitive device)

During May, more than 60 students from McLaren High School, Callander and primary schools in Thornhill and Port of Menteith are participating in Flanders Moss 'Under the Microscope', a botanical art project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, linking science, heritage and art.

The project is the latest for the Carse of Stirling Partnership and involves David Pickett, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) Manager of Flanders Moss NNR, Botanical Illustrator Jessica Langford and Creative Botanist Kate Sankey.

David said, “We’re really excited to be hosting this wonderful project. It’s such a great fit for Flanders Moss, where you’ll find all kinds of interesting plants and animals, including sundews, sphagnum moss, lizards, cuckoos and much more. It’s a fascinating place for a walk – or to find inspiration for an art project!” 

'Under the Microscope' is an opportunity for the students to see the bog really close up, and through their artwork reveal the fantastic colours and structures of plants which live and form the bog.

The students will be looking in detail at the rich habitat the Moss provides and through their drawings and paintings visitors to the exhibition will discover a unique view of Flanders Moss.

The best way for visitors to see Flanders Moss is from above.  The Tower provides a great viewing platform and the board-walk allows you to walk over the bog, looking down at the plants just below your feet.

viewing tower

Flanders Moss is home to a number of specialist bog plants, such as sphagnum moss, bog cotton, star moss, cranberry, sundews and reindeer moss.

The students first study plants on-site and then back in the classroom through magnifying lens' and microscopes, examining in detail the cells, structures, colours and forms.

These images provide the inspiration for their artwork, using different materials and techniques such as water colour pencils, oil pastels, wax resist and silhouettes.

The final artwork will be shown on Flanders Moss and at West Moss-side as part of the Forth Valley Art Beat week – 9-17 June.

For more details:

This project for the Carse of Stirling Partnership was made possible by financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stirling Community Pride Fund and Thornhill Community Trust.

Some equipment, such as a digital microscope, purchased as part of the project will be gifted to Thornhill community at the end of the project.

If you would like more information about Flanders Moss NNR you can find it on the Stirling NNR blog: or contact David Pickett:

Scottish Natural Heritage
is the government's adviser on all aspects of nature and landscape across Scotland. Their role is to help people understand, value and enjoy Scotland's nature now and in the future.

For more information, visit their website at or follow them on Twitter at

Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, they invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  

For more information, visit their website: or follow them on facebook HLFScotland and twitter @HLFScotland

Forth Valley Art Beat
is an annual open studios event. It will take place 9th – 17th June and Flanders Moss NNR (venue 36) and West Moss-side (venue 37/38) are just two of almost 70 venues open to the public.