Kaňk National Nature Monument

The Kaňk NNM was declared in 1933, covers an area of 0.5ha, and is administered by the Blaník PLA Administration. The monument is located about 2km north-east of the centre of the town of Kutná Hora in the Středočeský (Central Bohemian) Region. The monument was declared to protect the remnants of a backwash reef from the Cretaceous sea which covered the area in the Upper Cenomanian and Lower Devonian periods and the abundance of fossils which are found here.
 
The national nature monument is spread over several former quarry pits on the south-eastern slopes of Kaňk hill and the surrounding thermophilous grasslands to the north of Kutná Hora. Migmatites were quarried here as building stone and for breaking down into gravel. Several ridges of limestone deposits up to 5 metres high and 15 metres long were left untouched during quarrying at the locality. This means that the current terrain of the quarries is very rugged and these ridges, which are the main subject of the protection, will easily catch our eye.
 
The basement of the locality is built of rocks of the Kutná Hora crystaline complex– gneisses to migmatites, which have beds of quartz in places. The migmatites are overlain by a complex of very coarse-grained conglomerates, which vary greatly in size, as most are less than 30cm in diameter but boulders of more than 1 metre in diameter can also be found here. The boulders are cemented with Lower Turonian organic detritus to marly limestones. The limestones are light in colour and range from fine-grained and whitish, through coarse-grained and yellow-white, brownish, greyish to pure white. A wealth of examples of Cretaceous fauna can be found in the cement in the conglomerates, with representatives of the Polyzoa, molluscs and Foraminifera and shells of other species and groups of animals from the Cretaceous sea. Dozens of fossil species have been recorded here, of which some were first discovered here – including the moss animal Kankopora kankensis. For this reason the Kaňk locality is of great scientific importance.
 
The majority of the protected area is covered with thermophilous grasslands of the Bromion alliance, with drooping tor-grass (Brachypodium pinnatum), erect brome (Bromus erectus) and the fescue Festuca rupicola and typical herbs such as meadow clary (Salvia pratensis), field eryngo (Eryngium campestre), yellow scabious (Scabiosa ochroleuca), sainfoin (Onobrychys viciifolia) and dwarf thistle (Cirsium acaule). Xerophilous species can be found on the edge of the quarry pits and around the rocky outcrops and these include the feather-grass Stipa capillata, Bothriochloa ischaemum and intermediate wheat-grass Elytrigia intermedia. The occurrence of the critically endangered downy woundwort (Stachys germanica) is also notable.
 
The territory of the monument is quite overgrown with shrub growths, especially blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) wild roses (Rosa sp.), dogwood Cornus sanguinea, wild privet (Ligustrum vulgare) as well as opportunist ashes (Fraxinus excelsior) and wild cherry (Cerasus avium), especially in the northern part and on the floor of the quarry. The floor of the lower quarry is covered with an impenetrable thicket of young blackthorns, which developed after the last management intervention. Rarer shrub species such as barberry (Berberis vulgaris) and sweetbriar (Rosa rubiginosa) also occur here. As none of the quarries have been cleaned in recent years, the current condition requires active and intensive intervention. The southern part of the territory has only scattered shrub growths (mostly roses and hawthorn) which do not disturb the open character of the territory. In several places the grasslands are degraded by false oat-grass (Arrhenatherium elatius) and wood small-reed (Calamagrostis epigejos). The north-eastern border of the monument is fringed by forest, the southern and western borders of the locality are formed by a cherry orchard.
 
The thermophilous and xerophilous growths are the home of thermophilous insect species. Several of these insects were first recorded in the Czech Republic from this locality – the furniture beetle Oligomerus retowskii and the weevil Argoptochus quadrisignatus. A very large population of the burnet moth Zygaena ephialtes can be found at Kaňk and other interesting insects at the monument include the mason bee Hoplitis rufohirta and the oil beetle Meloe decorus.
 
The territory is also known locally as “Na Vrších” – “On the hill” and can be reached along the “Stříbrná stezka” or Silver Trail from Kutná Hora, on which Kaňk NNM is stop number three. The trail leads along the edge of the locality and enables visitors to see the geological structure of the monument and the thermophilous grasslands with valuable plant species.