Occupying a promontory a little to the south of Westerham and the 17th Century manor house of Squerryes Court, this hillfort truly was a bugger to see. And then some. But the ubiquitous 'they' say that nothing of any worth comes easily, do they not? Incidentally Chartwell, another fine dwelling and home to Winston Churchill for many years, lies about a mile to the approx south-east. I mention this since one of the great man's many witticisms was apparently 'Keep Buggering On' - or 'KBO', if you prefer acronyms. Somewhat crude for a great statesman, perhaps, but highly appropriate for any Modern Antiquarian with designs on checking out the ramparts of Squerryes Park in any detail..... for, surely, this hillfort presents the biggest challenge of any Iron Age site I've yet visited. Ingleborough? Pah! Nowhere near, my friends.
Like the great Wallbury in deepest Essex, a thick mantle of trees ensure that the whereabouts of Squerryes Park remains incognito to all but the determined with OS map. I suggest heading south from the A25 at Wetherham upon the minor road just west of the aforementioned Squerryes Court, parking a little before the junction with the B269. Take the track approx opposite 'Mearings' and head roughly north-east until the route begins to descend to a house. Veer north (to your left) here and make you way uphill through the trees as best you can. The promontory fort is more or less triangular and orientated north/south, with a footpath bisecting it on this axis. From what I could determine the defences are univallate... except to the south where they are re-enforced by an additional bank protecting the easiest approach. There would also appear to be a cross-rampart - whether ancient or not, I couldn't confirm.... but would say 'yes' on appearances - isolating a relatively small area to the south. An earlier enclosure, perhaps, later expanded to the north. Or a later addition delimiting an 'inner bailey', so to speak? Dunno.
Ok, but why is a visit here so taxing, so arduous? The infamous rhododendron is the answer to that question, combining with the woodland to construct an almost impenetrable screen across the ramparts. Only upon the south-eastern arc are the Iron Age earthworks accessible without literally forcing a passage through undergrowth. Yeah, this isn't the Amazon forest. Although it does begin to rain a little. But it might as well be. A machete would be of great benefit, to be honest. Not quite sure how you'd explain possession of such an implement to the police, though. Several times the will begins to falter. However.... 'KBO'. Yeah, the legacy of WS Churchill must be upheld. It is, even though it takes me some five hours to be satisfied I've completed this latest labour of love.
Squerryes Park is not the finest hillfort you will ever visit. No, not by a long chalk. But, as George Michael once sang, 'it's the ones that resist that we'd most like to kiss, wouldn't you say?' Nature has fully reclaimed this promontory, hill fort 'n all. And it appears that She doesn't want to be disturbed without a very good reason. I would strongly suggest you earn the right.
A bright, clear Boxing Day was a fine time to walk south from Westerham and find this beautiful spot. The hill fort itself, sadly, is covered with wretched rhododendrons, but you can still see some small banks, remains of the earthworks that one can only imagine were once very magnificent.
There is an interesting bank along the edge of the field at the base of the wooded hill, made more noticeable, perhaps, by the snow. I expect this was created by the river, perhaps when in full spate at the end of the last Ice Age, and the way it deliniates the bottom of the hill may have seemed fortuitous to the first inhabitants, who may indeed have increased it as part of their defences.
The site's location is perfect: the springs of the Darenth are in the meadow at the hill's base, so the inhabitants always had fresh water, and a fertile pastrure for their animals. As it leaves the vale, the nascent river describes a bend around a hilly spur, which thus encloses the place, giving it a great feeling of homeliness and safety.
I am grateful for the earlier post here, that the two mounds that one passes on the way to this place from Westerham are from an air raid shelter: we spent some time wodnering if they were barrows or not: they seemed too small, and it is good to have confirmation of their red-herringness - but it is a shame: it would have been a good spot to have been buried.
The site's size and location seems to indicate that it was a satelite of Oldbury Hill, which lies to the east.
It took us a while to find this hillfort, it's very well hidden!!!! Take the footpath from Westerham centre starting from Water Lane. Follow this walled path down over a stream & into a field with a steep hill in front of you. Climb the hill & climb the stile, then keep going straight until you reach what could almost be a Scottish Glen. Go down into this & turn right. Cross the next stream & turn left to follow a track through a field. When you get to the stile at the other end of the field you will see a tree covered hill. That's it!! It has been covered with small pine trees & shrubs which may have once been an ornamental garden from Sqerries Court but has since been used as (I think) a breeding area for Pheasants. Remains of pens still exist. It's not an impressive site but the walk there is really nice, especially the "Glen" & the remains of what may have been a mill at one time. There is one interesting point to note. On the top of the first hill you come to is what appears to be a Tumulus. Don't be fooled. It's an Air Raid Shelter!!!!!!!
Got a bit confused trying to find this place, I recommend you take the OS map of the area. We gave up upon finding Squerryes court was shut, but I think the hillfort is public access anyway. *Shrug* I'll be back!