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Bartlow Hills

Round Barrow(s)


Extract taken from a paper read to the (archaeology) society April 5th 1832

"At the north end of the parish of Ashdon, in Essex, are certain artificial mounds. They consist of a line of four greater barrows, and a line of three smaller barrows, at the distance of between 70 and 80 feet in front of the others.
“The situation of these mounds is remarkable. They stand on a general acclivity in face of Bartlow church, the country gradually rising around them like an extended amphitheatre.
“Between the hills and the church is a hollow to the north, down which runs a little brook that divides the parishes of Ashdon and Bartlow, forming the boundary of the counties of Essex and Cambridgeshire.
“Though the hills do not belong to the parish of Bartlow, which is in Cambridgeshire, nor to the hamlet of Bartlow which is in Essex, still, from the received interpretation of the Saxon word Low, a barrow, it is clear that they give their name to the place, a proof of their antiquity”.

Should they be on TMA these early Romano-British mounds, unique of course, and large. But in truth they have to be seen just to say 'wow'.

Second visit and we always start from the church, past the Three Hills pub/hotel, turn right at the cross roads and the church will be on your right. Stand and admire the round towered church, note the two paths that run through the church yard, one will lead you to christianity, the other to a pagan past.

The remaining three mounds are surrounded by tall trees, an ecosystem has evolved in this large glade the chalk mounds are covered in long grass and wild flowers, this is what enchants the place. Butterflies dance at your feet, there is a surfeit of these dark brown creatures, damselflies and dragonflies from the nearby stream, bees buzz busily round the plants.

The three mounds so steeply sided protect the plants, Silbury comes easily to mind with the largest mound, at 45 foot high, though the Bartlow mound misses the mark it still comes second, you can read the history here.....

I suspect winter would be the best time to visit, shorn of the natural vegetation, but summer has the added highlight of a vibrant ecosystem on these mounds.
moss Posted by moss
14th July 2013ce
Edited 14th July 2013ce

Comments (2)

These really do need to be seen to be believed, do they not? Slightly outside TMA remit, but to exclude these would be pedantic. GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
14th July 2013ce
“These really do need to be seen to be believed, do they not?”

They certainly do (if you can find them in the first place as they’re not signposted at all!).

You’ve been there before Mr G but anyone who hasn’t, head for the church first as there are a few places there where you can park up. Then take the left hand, tree-lined path, that runs alongside the left side of the church for about ten minutes (the church itself has three medieval wall paintings that are worth a ganders). Half way down there’s a disused railway line (it was the cutting of the line that destroyed a couple of the barrows).

The path eventually brings you out on a tree-surrounded area (reasonably well maintained) where three of the barrows still remain. All three barrows are very overgrown. The largest is ‘almost’ Silbury-like in appearance - the pitch being slight steeper than Silbury though (I think). For those in favour of steps up Silbury the largest of the Bartlow mounds has 63 wooden steps and a handrail. The steps have certainly stopped erosion of the barrow itself. Moss spotted what looked like a hole in the centre of the flat area on the top of the mound (mostly concealed in the undergrowth). Looks like the same thing happened there as at Silbury with the (19th century) excavation shaft collapsing in on itself. There’s a new, more detailed info board there (well new in so much as it wasn’t there five years ago).

We always come away with the distinct feeling that there was more than just a Roman presence there...
Littlestone Posted by Littlestone
14th July 2013ce
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