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Ambresbury Banks

Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork


Today I visited Epping Forest with a friend who has recently published a book of seasonal photographs taken in the forest. One of the photos featured is Ambresbury Banks - my friend thought it was probably a boundary enclosure where livestock were taken at times when attack or threat might be imminent.

The following notes are taken from the website "Unlocking Essex's Past"

"Iron age hill fort. Subrectangular enclosure of 11.7 acres. The defences are of single bank of dump construction originally separated from the ditch by a berm. The bank still stands 1.3m-2.2m high. There is also a 0.4-1.0m high intermittent counterscarp bank on the outer lip of the wide, silted ditch. The main bank now has 6 major breaks in its circumference, although only one appears to be original. This is approached from the north west by a trapezoidal-shaped causeway. The ends of the bank at this point were revetted with coursed puddingstone blocks. The width of the passageway so formed was sufficient to suggest double gateds, but no central post holes were found. At the south the head of a small valley is enclosed, from which a stream flows south east through a gap in the bank. Augering across the present stream bed suggested the bank was originally complete at this point, so assuming the stream existed at that time an overflow through the bank would have been necessary. The present stream bed is a breach, not a deliberately left gap. No trace of internal occupation has been found. Pottery from the ditch suggests a construction date of the second half of the 1st millenium BC, and reuse in the Belgic period. In medieval and later times several tracks passed through the earthwork and it was used for quarrying sand and gravel, and possibly as an enclosure for cattle on their way to the London market. Wild Service trees (sorbus torminalis) are to be found in the immediate vicinity of Ambresbury itself. Such trees are taken as an indication of relict woodland. Thus it would seem to indicate Loughton Camp was constructed in a still wooden landscape, whilst the country around Ambresbury was probably cleared.
Dated: 700BC to 42AD"

Note: the name Ambresbury is thought to come from Ambrosius Aurelianus aka King Arthur.
tjj Posted by tjj
27th July 2010ce

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