Signposted as 'Roman Temple', but there was a Celtic place of worship here before the Romans.
This site is a surprise in that you drive into a busy industrial area and then find yourself in a little oasis of calm. Up close it felt Roman because slabs have been laid out to show where the Roman temple was, but when you first walk towards it from a little way off, it feels older to me.
To get there, drive into the Riverway industrial area until among all the factory units you see a green patch on your right. At the moment there's a very convenient place to park in front of the entrance, but otherwise, there's a public car park a couple of hundred yards further back on the left.
Walk in and keep to your left (there quite a few trees and shrubs) until you see the first information board, which tells you about the Iron Age, as well as the Roman, background. Then follow the path around to your left and you come to the temple mound.
Before the industrial estate was built, the site was excavated. I was a kid at the time and remember the local community being invited in to help the archaeologists with the dig, as they were under pressure to get it done before building began.
The southern barrow is easy to find. There's a heavily used footpath that passes right next to it, yet because of its proximity to the hospital, it seems to have been left alone, with just the odd beer can at the top. It looks to be in good condition, although I don't suppose the trees will do much good.
To get to it, turn into Hamstel Road, park in the little multi-storey car park in Wych Elm, then cross Hamstel Road and you'll see a metalled footpath/ cycle path that leads into Princess Alexandra Hospital. Walk along it a few yards and you'll see the barrow on your left.
I had a look for the other two barrows. I couldn't find them, but suspect they may be in the small wood a few hundred yards further down Hamstel Road, on the right. It was mid-May and very overgrown, so I couldn't really explore (nice bluebells, though).
Gilden Way (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes
Wandering down for a quick look whilst visiting the impressive Old Harlow round barrow on New Year's Day....well, it'd be rude not to... I'm sad to relate there is as 'unvibey' a feeling upon this waste ground as you might find behind a block of flats on a council estate in London. To be honest, the clearly relatively recent 'landscaping / contouring' makes the traveller think 'surely not?' at the outset.
Unfortunately it appears that Essex HER agree, an opinion based upon some solid fieldwork, however. To quote SMR 7268:
'Site de-scheduled October 2008 as no longer regarded as a cursus.Field survey and trial trenching was completed in order to evaluate the impact of unauthorised re-contouring groundworks upon it. This archaeological work was undertaken by the Essex County Council Field Archaeology Unit at the request of English Heritage. It consisted of a site walk-over inspection, collection of spot height data and the excavation of trenches across the plotted position of the cropmark and the area to its immediate west. The principal objectives of the work were to establish the presence of the cursus monument and to assess the extent of any damage which may have been caused to it.
The archaeological fieldwork identified the presence of prehistoric and Early Saxon remains,but no trace of the putative cursus. It also established that there had been relatively little deep and extensive truncation of archaeological remains across the majority of the scheduled area, and that the groundworks had largely comprised the removal and the stockpiling of topsoil. However, general compaction, disturbance and rutting caused by the movement of heavy plant were observed on the exposed surface that is likely to have had an adverse impact upon below-ground remains present. It is concluded that the cursus had never been present and that the linear 'cropmark' features evident on aerial photographs, from which it is was identified, are more likely to have been modern-day tracks, footpaths or other wear marks on the field surface.'
So, in all probability not a cursus, then? Curses! However note the stated presence of 'prehistoric' remains..... so something WAS going on here, near the barrow, in ancient times. But what? As usual we clear up one mystery - albeit unsatisfactorily from a TMA point of view - and create another. Right on!