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An Essex Desert

A trip over to Basildon afforded an opportunity to look for a site in the comparative neolithic desert that is Essex.

Poring over the map the night before, the best candidate seemed to be Danbury Hill Fort (TL779050), just east of Chelmsford. A word of warning. When planning trips, make sure you have up-to-date maps. My Chelmsford map was 1974 vintage, where the fort is clearly marked as being behind the church in Danbury. I found the church with no problems, despite the A12 being rerouted and several other roads being re-designated, but there was no sign of a hill fort. Driving around the block and approaching the site from the south, the hill could clearly be made out, but was topped by a water tower and what must be the ugliest communications tower I've ever seen.

Undaunted I looked around, and through a hedge I spotted what may or may not have been an embankment, but being on private ground it was impossible to discern whether anything of the original hill fort survives.

Avoiding Chelmsford town centre, which appeared to be gridlocked (it was Good Friday!), I obtained a newer version of the OS map, to find that there is no longer any mention of the fort in Danbury.

Cutting my losses, I headed home, stopping at Ambresbury Banks for a quick neolithic fix on the way. Despite being so close to the road, and with the M25 within spitting distance, there's a real feeling of the age of the place here. Sadly, many of the birch trees are dead or dying and it's almost impossible to feel the ground beneath your feet due to the depth of the mulch.

Tomorrow it's Oxfordshire again.

ocifant Posted by ocifant
18th April 2003ce

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