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Harlow Temple

Iron Age Shrine

<b>Harlow Temple</b>Posted by OrifrogImage © Nik Barrall
Nearest Town:Sawbridgeworth (3km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   TL467123 / Sheet: 167
Latitude:51° 47' 22.51" N
Longitude:   0° 7' 38.18" E

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Harlow Temple</b>Posted by Orifrog <b>Harlow Temple</b>Posted by Orifrog


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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.
Orifrog Posted by Orifrog
12th May 2013ce
Edited 12th May 2013ce


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Harlow Temple is admittedly a Roman site. But there's good reason to believe that it was built on top of an Iron Age shrine.

"In the Iron Age Harlow lay on the tribal boundary between the Catuvellauni in Hertfordshire and the Trinovantes in Essex. At the temple hill there were two roundhouses of mid to late Iron Age date and numerous Iron Age coins, small finds and animal bones. The quantity and pattern of distribution of the coins, coupled with what appears to have been deliberate damage to the small finds suggests that the site had a religious rather than domestic function."

Beneath the Iron Age remains excavators found Bronze Age pits, some of which had fragments of burial urns. The EH book 'Shrines and Sacrifice' (Ann Woodward, 1992) also mentions Neolithic / early Bronze age flints which were also found, and suggests these lay on the original land surface under a purported destroyed barrow. Whatever, they do suggest a continuity of use of the site over a very long period (even if the flints do not relate to the later burials).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st April 2006ce
Edited 21st April 2006ce