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Prittlewell Camp



You know how it is, right? Sometimes, it is that which lies closest to us - be it relationships... or physical structures hidden in plain sight - that is most difficult to appreciate. Yeah, despite living around these parts for all my life (I shall not elaborate further with regards timescales) one did not possess a Scooby that Prittlewell Camp existed. However, not depicted upon OS mapping, with some two-thirds of the enclosing bank ploughed to oblivion... and those earthworks that do survive cloaked in woodland, perhaps the omission is not too glaring? Perhaps.

The siting of the enclosure is - nowadays at least - somewhat uninspiring, located upon partly wooded scrubland between Wellesley Hospital and Sutton Road Crematorium, due west of the local B&Q superstore. Nevertheless, despite clearly being the haunt of local beer boys and fly-tippers, enough survives to make a visit worthwhile. Yeah, given the paucity of surviving Essex earthworks above ground level - and with a nod to the resident 'misunderstood muppets' - it really is a 'no-brainer' to check it out, given the opportunity.

The dating of the enclosure is, so it would appear, far from conclusive. The 'Look-out' mound upon the south-eastern arc has been likened to the base of a medieval mill.. or even a motte... but again, no one truly knows. Furthermore, the ditch was used as a dump during the 1920's, no doubt further confusing matters with 'contamination'. For what it's worth, seeing as the intrinsic military value of the location is somewhat dubious - and The Bastard's Norman loons were invariably spot-on with their defensive siting - I concur with a 'later prehistoric origin' interpretation for the enclosure as a whole.

Historic England has this to say (List entry - 1017515):

"A slight univallate enclosure which is likely to be of later prehistoric origin but has produced no secure dating evidence. It is located on the northern outskirts of Southend-on-Sea. The monument occupies the northern edge of a broad, gently sloping terrace and commands extensive views over the Roach valley to the north. The enclosure is almost circular in plan, measuring 250m in diameter. The southwestern third of the perimeter is defined by an earthen bank and external ditch which are preserved within a wooded belt. The ditch is less clearly visible, having been recut as an agricultural boundary and used for Corporation dumping in the 1920s, but some traces of it survive. The northern and eastern sections of the enclosure bank have been reduced by ploughing, but the earthwork marking its line was noted in the early 20th century and this still survives. The line of the bank has also been recorded from the air as a cropmark.... There is no trace of an entrance to the enclosure... a pronounced mound... situated on the southeastern part of the perimeter... produced a mixed array of finds including large quantities of tile and medieval pottery... it has been interpreted as the base of a medieval post mill...."

The 1999 Survey report by A Cooper & P Pattison can be accessed here:
13th November 2021ce
Edited 17th January 2022ce

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