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

Easneye Wood

Round Barrow(s)


You know how it is... the lethargy, the call of the 'roll over in bed' too great to harbour any intention of going anywhere this morning? Tell me about it... so it's with some irony that I find myself heading up the M25 shortly after bound for.... Ware. An apparently rather fine bowl barrow within Easneye Wood, to the east of said town, is the objective. Yeah, about an hour's drive to visit a mound of earth, with no guarantee of an audience... there must be easier 'hobbies', surely? No, I think not.

The first pleasant surprise is the quality of the Hertfordshire countryside as I park up opposite Watersplace Farm on the B1004. I guess the clear blue sky, the catalyst for the visit, helps... but nevertheless... nice. The track, heading approx south east through the farm before crossing the River Ash, is wide and well maintained. Entering Easneye Wood it begins to climb, flanked on the right by a very deep drainage ditch. I head off uphill where this terminates, following a wire-mesh enclosure... one assumes there for the (poor) grouse... until a quite splendid bowl barrow emerges through the trees. Now there is some dispute as to the dating of this monument. EH is pretty confident it's Bronze Age in origin, no doubt in no small measure thanks to the cremation deposits mentioned in Rhiannon's post [refer English Heritage, National Monuments Record 638576].... deposits incidentally replaced within the mound following excavation. Hertfordshire HER, however, reckons it 'looks' Roman..... what chance of analysing the cremation using modern methods for a definitive answer. Can a 'contaminated' sample of organic material be of use? Dunno. Whatever, I must admit the round barrow certainly looks 'authentic' enough to me.

The monument's setting, beside a dirt track with piles of logs here and there, is disorder itself, yet curiously aesthetically pleasing to these eyes .... a working wood, albeit one apparently worked for a purpose many of us, myself included, will no doubt find abhorrent. But such is the countryside. More disturbingly, a 'christian college' lies below to the south-west, a place where adults still - even in the 21st Century - succumb to religious dogma unsupported by any evidence whatsoever. Not a problem if they were content to leave the rest of us alone and not invoke the political power trip.... but of course such people can not. But there you are. Many others will clearly disagree, as is their right. Just stay the hell away from me and allow me to believe my own senses.

The northern half of this substantial barrow is overgrown with brambles; however these are absent from the southern, affording a very fine perch from which to take in the vibe of the ancient forest.... the remnants of trees which once crowned the mound are still in evidence, one destroyed by Nature, the other by man. A couple of others 'hang in there', thriving upon the fertile soil. There are also the remains of a magpie, a pile of distinctive feathers all that is visible from the kill of a fox.... or perhaps bird of prey. Periodic sunlight streams through the bare winter canopy - or rather lack of it - and only the sound of headbanging woodpeckers, the odd shotgun, microlight, squirrel... etc... OK, it's not the quietest spot ... breaks the silence. No christian missionaries, however. Thank, er, goodness. Although, in retrospect, an encounter may well have proved 'interesting'. Or maybe not.

Time runs out and I return to the car, noticing 'Private - No Path' signs I (honestly) missed on the way up. Hey ho... note that these are private woods, then. Whatever. But what a great bowl barrow this is.
29th February 2012ce
Edited 29th February 2012ce

Comments (3)

I'm sure they put those signs up after you've passed by you know. Had the same at Hailes Wood Camp the other week. I blame the wood elves. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
29th February 2012ce
Nice one, missionaries, woodpeckers & microlites - love it. I live 1/2 mile from there and some of us villagers are getting up a group to start discovering what went on and when but have to get past the aggressive owner/gamekeeper and...the wood elves!!
You did well at not 'noticing' him..
This and Widbury Hill you walked have been through some tough times by all accounts, not least the odd Saxon V Danish Battle as well as stuff that went before (I suppose Celt V Roman/Saxon too). Any way, in a few years time - subject to being shot at or preached to, we'll let you know what we find.
Posted by dikko
7th March 2012ce
Being an Essex boy, just passing through - and very glad I made the effort to see your wonderful county - and more than happy to see Easneye is in proper - that is, local - hands.

Suggest an overt approach armed with (what we here deem to be) the moral truth, video any shotgun-related 'tomfoolery' and dial 999 in such an event. Play them at their own game if they refuse to be decent human beings. Write to the local papers!! What have they got to hide?
8th March 2012ce
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