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

Shelley Common

Round Barrow(s)


Even a cursory glance will reveal that there are many, many impressive monuments logged upon this web-site. Sadly, the Shelley round barrows, near the small Essex town of Chipping Ongar, are not among them. At least not if physical form is considered to be the prime criterion, the trio barely surviving - in a severely denuded state - beside the meandering Cripsey Brook. But hey, something is better than nothing. And, of course, there are other selection criteria...

That time, or to be more specific, succeeding generations of farmers, haven't accorded these monuments any favours, would, at first glance, appear to go without saying. But that would perhaps not tell the whole story, for the siting remains idyllic, particularly upon a sunny, late Spring afternoon. A farm still occupies the rise to the east, beyond the water course crossed by two - count 'em - bridges, the track eventually arriving at the tiny settlement of Shelley. Here, a church claims the physical high ground, arguably in lieu of the moral equivalent? To be honest this is where I expected to find the barrows, charging across the more-substantial-looking-bridge before realising my mistake.

The northern mound is arguably the best preserved, for what it's worth. But perhaps that is just splitting hairs, for the landscape... and the suggestion of what once was.... is sometimes more than enough. So if you happen to find yourself at Chipping Ongar, take the Moreton Road northwards out of town. Just past Bridge House, on your right, it is possible to park a car by the entrance to a bridleway. Advance down this to a gate and the Shelley Barrows are to be found a little way before the near bank of the brook, to the left. At least they were last time I looked. Just about.....
19th April 2011ce
Edited 19th April 2011ce

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