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

Squerryes Park



Occupying a promontory a little to the south of Westerham and the 17th Century manor house of Squerryes Court, this hillfort truly was a bugger to see. And then some. But the ubiquitous 'they' say that nothing of any worth comes easily, do they not? Incidentally Chartwell, another fine dwelling and home to Winston Churchill for many years, lies about a mile to the approx south-east. I mention this since one of the great man's many witticisms was apparently 'Keep Buggering On' - or 'KBO', if you prefer acronyms. Somewhat crude for a great statesman, perhaps, but highly appropriate for any Modern Antiquarian with designs on checking out the ramparts of Squerryes Park in any detail..... for, surely, this hillfort presents the biggest challenge of any Iron Age site I've yet visited. Ingleborough? Pah! Nowhere near, my friends.

Like the great Wallbury in deepest Essex, a thick mantle of trees ensure that the whereabouts of Squerryes Park remains incognito to all but the determined with OS map. I suggest heading south from the A25 at Wetherham upon the minor road just west of the aforementioned Squerryes Court, parking a little before the junction with the B269. Take the track approx opposite 'Mearings' and head roughly north-east until the route begins to descend to a house. Veer north (to your left) here and make you way uphill through the trees as best you can. The promontory fort is more or less triangular and orientated north/south, with a footpath bisecting it on this axis. From what I could determine the defences are univallate... except to the south where they are re-enforced by an additional bank protecting the easiest approach. There would also appear to be a cross-rampart - whether ancient or not, I couldn't confirm.... but would say 'yes' on appearances - isolating a relatively small area to the south. An earlier enclosure, perhaps, later expanded to the north. Or a later addition delimiting an 'inner bailey', so to speak? Dunno.

Ok, but why is a visit here so taxing, so arduous? The infamous rhododendron is the answer to that question, combining with the woodland to construct an almost impenetrable screen across the ramparts. Only upon the south-eastern arc are the Iron Age earthworks accessible without literally forcing a passage through undergrowth. Yeah, this isn't the Amazon forest. Although it does begin to rain a little. But it might as well be. A machete would be of great benefit, to be honest. Not quite sure how you'd explain possession of such an implement to the police, though. Several times the will begins to falter. However.... 'KBO'. Yeah, the legacy of WS Churchill must be upheld. It is, even though it takes me some five hours to be satisfied I've completed this latest labour of love.

Squerryes Park is not the finest hillfort you will ever visit. No, not by a long chalk. But, as George Michael once sang, 'it's the ones that resist that we'd most like to kiss, wouldn't you say?' Nature has fully reclaimed this promontory, hill fort 'n all. And it appears that She doesn't want to be disturbed without a very good reason. I would strongly suggest you earn the right.
27th August 2011ce
Edited 27th August 2011ce

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