I revisited this with Juamei. It’s a lot quicker walk once you know the way, and also if you take the path from TQ176605 (marked as ‘Route 32’ on the wooden direction post), which leads you almost directly to the North east side of this rectangular enclosure (there is just one slight junction to navigate – take a left / easterly direction).
The detailed map on the Corporation Of London website (see link below) shows the sites of a roman bath house, a roman villa, and a roman tile works to the north east, bits of which were probably the mounds I found on my previous visit.
We are still wondering what the earthwork is! Juamei reckons it might be associated with the (spit) romans….
The obvious place to start is the Epsom Common car park at TQ183611, which is clearly shown on the OS map but isn’t signposted from the road. I then took a path south where you will come to a ‘path junction’ with three choices. Take the one to the south-west towards a large Corporation Of London sign / info board, which marks the start of Ashtead Common. The Corporation Of London owns and manages 200 hectares of Ashtead Common, which was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1995. The bridleway then skirts the privately owned Newton Wood and a lovely herd of Jersey cows were grazing the farmland to the North. Someone has rightly questioned one of the Newton Wood signs that say ‘Private – No Right of Way’ by adding ‘why not?’ on it – it seems strange that this wood is private when all around is open access. Soon you’ll come to another info board, which marked the start of my epic attempt to find the earthwork and two other things that looked like barrows on the OS map.
The common is pretty dense woodland and very confusing. There are a lot more paths than are marked on the map and although I think I found everything I was trying to find I honestly couldn’t say accurately how I found them or how to get to them! After taking the path south from the info board at TQ178606 to try to find the earthworks, and finding it difficult to find, I would actually suggest that an easier way might be to take the path from TQ176605, which should lead directly to the edge of the earthwork and close to the two possible barrows.
I’m pretty sure I found the earthwork (which incidentally is a scheduled Ancient Monument) in the jumble of paths and woodland. Well I certainly found a large area of land at the brow of the hill with irregular banks and ditches around it. I would love to know more about it. Incidentally a notice at one of the info boards previously mentioned said that they would be clearing trees on an around the earthwork in September 2003 – call 01372 279083 for more info.
There are two ‘star’ symbols on the OS map just north of the earthwork that usually signify barrows, but the usual word ‘tumuli’ isn’t present. Anyway I did find two things that look like barrows but I’m hesitant to post details up because when I got home I couldn’t find any reference on the internet and I found a large scale map of the common on the Corporation Of London website, which makes no mention of the barrows, but does place the site of a Roman Villa in the area…..hmmm?
Anyway, a very lovely walk in a beautiful, if dis-orientating, place!