The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Church Hill Camp



Heading west through West Wycombe along the A40... doubling as the town's High Street.... look for Chorley Road (if you fancy an 'authentic' climb to the site) or West Wycombe Hill Road (if you prefer to drive to the top) on your right. I choose the former (not because I'm athletic - I'm not any more - but since I haven't done my research...), parking in the large, free car park beside a garden centre. West Wycombe Hill rises across the road to the north-east, a very steep ascent being required to reach the ramparts of the Iron Age enclosure which still crowns the summit. A large, circular and - to be honest - rather ridiculous mausoleum overlies the site at this point, relegating any appreciation of what once stood here to the realms of guesswork.

Unfortunately there's more... the eponymous parasitical church which, together with attendant graveyard, occupies the interior of the enclosure. Thankfully, however - unlike a similar arrangement at my local hillfort of Danbury, Essex - the majority of prehistoric defences still remain upon West Wycombe Hill, albeit in an overgrown state, shamefully strewn with trash deposited by its namesake. Yeah, sadly I feel an air of malevolence here, an uneasiness exacerbated by the sound of hymns seeping from the church. These suddenly cease and I am soon confronted by a dodgy looking woman, glancing down at the camera and tripod held in my hand with obvious distaste. Looking up and consequently catching my eye she - wisely, I think, since I'm in no mood for this - decides to remain mute and move on without comment. I'm glad since I have no wish to add to the burden of the bereaved - if indeed she was - within churchyards... but I will defend myself against all dogma if forced to do so by the ignorant.

The canopy of foliage provides a shield (actual and metaphoric) from such incidents. It also cloaks some rather excellent bi-vallate ramparts protecting the western and - in particular - northern arc of the hill fort... much more powerful than I had anticipated and rising to some 3.5m to the north-east, according to Dyer. I sit upon the inner rampart drinking my coffee, amongst the twisted roots of trees clinging to life with an uncanny determination, and I am glad significant physical reminders of our pre-christian heritage remain upon West Wycombe Hill.
25th August 2011ce
Edited 28th August 2011ce

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