Essex is probably best known in 'antiquarian' circles for its hillforts.... somewhat ironically, perhaps, seeing as we haven't exactly got many hills, fortified or otherwise. Prehistoric monuments of other types are few and far between, even the usually ubiquitous 'Tumuli' a priceless scarcity, the sum of examples further depleted by association with 'Romano-Britishness'.
I didn't do any 'homework' for my visit to Lawford Park.... this time, however, with the express intention of forming a judgement based solely upon the light entering these two eyes of mine. Needless to say I arrive under a crisply blue winter sky and conclude, a little disappointed (I guess) that here we have another post-Iron Age monument. Yeah, it just looks too, well.... large, covering too large a surface area to be Bronze Age in origin. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But less than two millennia old, erected by Boudicca's lot? Ha! That was only yesterday.
The mound, as mentioned, is a big'un... not in terms of elevation - traces of central excavation damage no doubt account for that - but certainly with regards circumference. A juxtaposition of tall pine and oak surmount the barrow, throwing deep shadows, in addition to the former's cones, upon the irregular summit. A great, evocative place to chill out in the shade of the towering copse and daydream of Celtic warrior women, hair a' streaming in the wind. But enough of that, this is a family web-site.
Consequently I go for a wander in the field to the south and begin to progressively doubt my initial dating presumption. How could it be otherwise when here lie two/three(?) severely trashed circular, earthen features. Remnants of additional barrows, perhaps? If so, why did the primary monument survive? Or possibly ring ditches? Was there much more going on within what became Lawford Park than at first meets the eye? Upon returning to the barrow, perplexed, the farmer arrives in his landrover and waits before receiving my 'raised hand' acknowlegement. Although more in the style of 'Alan Shearer' than most, it is enough to satisfy him I'm kosher, so off he trundles in silence. I can do with that. Yeah, the way it should be, since after all, this is private land.
Intrigued, back at home I take a look at Essex HER records.... 'Round barrow in Lawford Park, excavated in 1812 when 2 urns were recovered..' Bronze Age funerary urns, that is. And wait, there's more...'4 ring-ditches to the south.... further ring-ditches to the SW...'. So, it seems that, indeed, Essex has a slumbering prehistoric ritual complex of its very own. Who'd have thought it? Clearly not I.
Access is pretty easy, too. Follow a green track heading northwards at the point where Dedham Road (approaching from the A137, a little west of Lawford) makes a right angled left turn. The Bronze Age barrow is visible beyond a gate to your left at a cross-track... however I carried on to the forest line and approached along that. Nice. Obscure, too, with a landowner who doesn't appear to mind the odd (as in 'occassional', that is) traveller having a look... in return for a touch of common courtesy.
Posted by GLADMAN
23rd February 2012ce
Edited 23rd February 2012ce