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Weald Park



I first came to South Weald Camp to see the ramparts adorned with the bluebells of Spring... unfortunately, however, I left knowing that I would have to return at some point in order to settle unfinished business. If you've read the miscellaneous post you'll be aware that this Late Iron Age enclosure has not had an easy ride into the 21st Century. Far from it. Now medieval alterations, I can accept.... but a cricket pitch occupying the eastern half of an Essex plateau fort? Do me a favour. People supposedly intelligent enough to play cricket should really know better, should they not? Having said that, though, this Modern Antiquarian should have had the balls to highlight this discrepancy back in April. But, to my shame, I bottled it and went away with the job half done.

Consequently I engineer the return home this New Year's Day - following a morning at Old Harlow's fine round barrow - so as to pass through Brentwood. A little before the town a minor road leaves the A128 to literally bisect South Weald Camp. It is possible to park just south of the enclosure, from whence a rather idiosyncratic stile affords a visit to the western half of the camp. To avail yourself of the eastern half, walk back up the road and make for the cricket club pavilion, G&Ts at the ready. As it happens, today being New Year's Day and all, there is no one around. So I reckon no-one is therefore going to mind me having a quick look at my local heritage. A metal gate to the south gives access to a muddy track following the outside perimeter of the camp. Although badly damaged, the south-eastern arc of the bank is still pretty substantial... the eastern defences more so, although possible medieval amendments should be bourne in mind, I guess. Only to the north is the bank truly trashed, having the indignity of being sandwiched between practice cricket nets. Howzat? Very nearly 'out'. But not quite.

It begins to rain... as forecasted.... and then, to all intents and purposes, monsoon. Which I don't recall being mentioned. But there you are. Nevertheless I can't leave without another visit to the western half of the camp, if only for the sake of continuity. No bluebells on this occasion, the ramparts rising stark within the landscape, trees offering skeletal profiles in Winter raiment. My dodgy 'hillfort-allocation' waterproofs begin to give way under the prolonged onslaught of the rain. But it is of little consequence. I am happy I've now seen the whole picture, as it were.

Yeah, poor South Weald Camp may have been dealt a poor hand by fate, but I reckon it's still well worth an hour or so of anyone's time.
2nd January 2012ce
Edited 3rd January 2012ce

Comments (2)

I was brought up in Brentwood and we often visited South Weald Park. In the fifties I think no one was aware of the existence of this hill fort. I suspect that the Cricket Club founders were as much in the dark about it as the rest of us. The park must have been used as a training ground in the war, because one of the highlights of our visit to a spot very near the Iron Age Hillfort was to clamber over a rusty tank which had been abandoned there after the training was done. Posted by Timmo
20th December 2017ce
I've an aunt who lived at Warley for years but I didn't suss it was a hill fort until TMA.... so being a little harsh on the local cricket lads, to be fair. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
20th December 2017ce
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