With an hour or so to spare, following an excellent visit to nearby Holmbury, I decide to drop in and see what actually remains within Deerlap Wood. Not much, probably. Wrong! Anyway, I park in the NT car park near the memorial to Samuel Wilberforce, son of the remarkable anti-slave campaigner William (and by all accounts not a patch on his dad, judging by his alleged high profile mockery of Charles Darwin). Deerleap Wood lies on the opposite side of the road, it being immediately clear by the numerous 'Private...' signs that the Wotton Estate landowners are perhaps intent upon following in the tradition of 'Soapy' Sam, not the awesome Mr Darwin. In short, there is no official access to the woods, save a public footpath linking several houses with West Lane. Every path to the centre of the wood is fronted by one of the aforementioned signs.... except one, that is. 'Perhaps this is intentional to allow access to the barrow?' thinks I, full of faith in human nature and progressive, forward thinking. So, with no-one around to ask, I decide to take a look.
Upon arrival, however, the somewhat oppressive vibe suggests I'm most probably being naive, so grab a few pictures and enjoy the brief presence of a superbly preserved bell barrow - complete with well defined ditch and berm (the level terrace between ditch and mound) - before making a tactical withdrawal. What a pity, eh? The Wotton Estate could gain great kudos within the community - and beyond - with a simple concessionary path 'to the barrow only'... (think how much excellent PR the Forestry Commission has regarding access to its land). Sadly they choose to plant a Scheduled Ancient Monument with new trees instead. One can only assume the proper legal procedure has been followed - and everything's above board - but it still doesn't seem morally right to me? But there you are. Different viewpoints. Here we have the paradox of a very fine Bronze Age monument, historically well preserved no doubt due to its location within a private estate, now threatened by the very same factors.
Needless to say I could never advocate trespass, so if you can manage to obtain permission from the estate, go and see this barrow before it's too late. Seems it needs all the friends - and public exposure - it can get. Wouldn't it be great to remove the mutual antagonism? Yeah, wouldn't it?
Searching The Heritage Gateway I found the following concerning the fine bell barrow situated within Deerleap Wood, part of the private Wotton Estate:
"Name: Bell barrow in Deerleap Wood
List Entry Number: 1007878
The monument includes a bell barrow situated on the rise of a gentle north-facing slope in an area of greensand. The barrow survives as a centralmound 25m in diameter and 2m high, surrounded by a flat platform, or berm, up
to 6.5m wide. This area is contained by a ditch 4m wide and 0.5m deep from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. Beyond the ditch is an external bank 4.5m wide and 0.4m high. The overall diameter of
the monument is 55m. The barrow was partially excavated in 1960 when the construction of the mound was found to include an inner mound of turf erected over an inhumation burial. No skeletal evidence however was preserved due to the acidic soil conditions. The turf was then covered by stone capping over which sand was piled. Two artefacts contemporary with the construction of the monument were found, a whetstone and a flint tool. Additionally over a thousand Mesolithic worked flints were found, showing that the barrow had been constructed on a much earlier flint working site.
Book Reference - Author: Corcoran, J X W P - Title: Excavations of a bell barrow in Deerleap Wood, Wotton - Date: 1963 - Journal Title: Surrey Archaeological Collections - Volume: 58 - Page References: 1-18 - Type: DESC TEXT"