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Barrows and Hillforts

In the absence of other sites, and some travel and time restrictions, I spent a few hours of the holiday weekend searching out several barrows and a couple of hill-forts, mainly in the New Forest.

On the way down to the New Forest I stopped at the charming St Catherine's Hill Fort and mizmaze, with its steep sides, butterflies, nearby plague pits and great views.

The Buckland Rings Hill Fort may qualify as the lowest hillfort in Britain and has a lack of friendly 'welcome' signs and public footpaths. Wouldn't it be great though to live within a hill fort? I then visited a couple of the barrows on Hatchet Moor / Beaulieu Heath, including the strangely named Pudding Barrow which is now part of the grounds of a caravan / camping site.

Despite the rain and their poor treatment (including both being right next to the road tracks that go past them and surely could have been routed slightly away from them) I could still appreciate the Setley Pond Barrow and the Longsdale View Barrow but couldn't totally approciate their lovely surroundings as it got darker and wetter.

Today I found out about another London barrow and visited it in Bushy Park barrow. Another mutilated and barely breathing barrow, but us London TMA'ers have to work in conditions that the rest of the Britain Isles, and Ireland, could hardly believe.

Bushy Park Barrow — Fieldnotes

Bushy Park Barrow – 26.5.2003

I haven’t looked this up on any national monuments record and the OS Explorer map 161 shows nothing, but its provenance seems secure as it is mentioned on the Royal Parks website and by local walker/historian/writer David McDowall.

The Royal Parks website says that “The flat site of Bushy Park has been settled for at least 4,000 years. A Bronze Age barrow & burial mound was excavated near Sandy Lane and the contents are now housed in the British Museum.”

It also adds that the park contains “clear remains of mediaeval settlements, with the finest example found South of Waterhouse Woodland Gardens, where there are traces of the largest and most complex mediaeval field system in Middlesex.”

To find the barrow walk into Bushy Park by the Teddington Gate, turn left and walk along the path for about 250 metres. This is it – only a small hump, and now of an irregular shape, but it is a barrow, unbeknown to all the walkers and cyclists who go straight over its top. David McDowall says that it originally ran beyond the park wall.

Pudding Barrow — Fieldnotes

Pudding Barrow - 24.5.2003

This is now part of the grounds of Round Hill caravan / camping site, but you can certainly walk straight into the site from Hatchet Moor / Beaulieu Heath.

The barrow is now fenced in, presumably to stop kids and mountain bikes damaging it. It certainly looks a bit worse for wear, but the fence should now protect it, and it’s nice to see a good English Heritage / Forestry Commission info board on the East side which should help educate a few bored campers. A brief conversation with a charming extended family of campers who had been having a piss-up on the airfield suggested that it had only recently been fenced in. The board says that most of the Beaulieu Heath barrows were destroyed in 1941 when they built the airfield. This one is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It’s a similar size to the other barrows I saw in the New Forest (about 20-25m diameter, 1 to 1.5m tall)

Beaulieu Heath — Fieldnotes

Beaulieu Heath Barrows – 24.5.2003

I only had time to visit two of the barrows doted around the large Hatchet Moor / Beaulieu Heath area. The first was at SU345012, only 500m from the main B3055 road. It looks a bit ravaged, in a scrubby area populated by rabbits, and it trapped on two sides by old airfield roads. The barrow is about 25m diameter and 1.4m tall. The second is the Pudding Barrow, which already has an individual listing.

Buckland Rings — Fieldnotes

Buckland Rings Hill Fort - 24.5.2003

It’s a funny old hillfort this, because it’s barely 30-35 metres above sea level, and not surprisingly is not on much of a hill at all. Does this qualify as the lowest hillfort in Britain?

It also all seems to be on private land and with no friendly ‘welcome’ signs around. Two houses (‘Little Rings’ and ‘Buckland Rings Cottage’ – I think, didn’t write it down…oops) seem to have its roadside part. The driveway and woods up to ‘Little Rings’ contains the ramparts of the north-east corner. I walked along the road side (which has a clear gap in the trees near this north-east corner but also has a ‘private’ sign) to the south-west corner where I made my way through the trees to sneak a peak and some piccies of the southern ramparts.

St Catherine's Hill — Fieldnotes

St Catherine's Hill Fort - 24.5.2003

There were other sites I could have stopped at on the way down to the New Forest but with limited time this proved a decent bet, and probably more interesting for my passenger that an obscure barrow in the middle of a farm field.

The walk up from the car park (by the old railway bridge at 484280) is pretty harsh, but short, and the main path brings you straight into one of the most impressive parts of the ramparts.

A short walk on and you reach the north-east entrance, which leads towards the mizmaze. The east sides gives great views across Winchester. Fortunately the roar from the M3 isn’t that bad because most of it is in a cutting; and anyway, most people visiting the hill fort have probably just used the same M-way to get here so car drivers cannot complain that much. As you walk across the centre of the fort towards the south you slowly drop, which gave me the impression that the ramparts might not be very impressive on the south side, but they are and use the natural steepness of the hill. Walking down the wooden footpath and right, along the stream, brings you back to the car park.

Setley Pond — Fieldnotes

Setley Pond Barrow – 24.5.2003

This nice, but poorly treated barrow, lies on the left hand side, 100m down the track that leads to Setley Pond from the main road that crosses Setley Plain. It looks a bit ravaged, with a slightly hollowed top, and is in a gorsey scrubby area populated by rabbits. It’s not totally clear if it is a bowl or bell barrow, but the bank and ditch around it is very strong. The barrow is circa 25m in diameter.

Bushy Park Barrow — Miscellaneous

There is a 'Bushy Park History Room' so if anyone wants to research the barrow maybe they could try here. It is staffed by volunteers, and located within White Lodge at the Stockyard. Visitors are welcome by prior appointment with the Park Office, White Lodge, The Stockyard
Bushy Park, Hampton Court Road, Hampton, TW12 2EJ. Tel: 020 8979 1586. Fax: 020 8941 8196. This info was taken from
pure joy Posted by pure joy
26th May 2003ce
Edited 11th May 2006ce

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