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Y Garnedd (Y Moelwynion) (Ring Cairn)

Y Garnedd means 'The Cairn' in Welsh... which is perhaps not that surprising since this c1,811ft peak, rising above Llyn Morwynion (Lake of The Maidens), is crowned by a massive Bronze Age monument of the 'ring cairn' variety.

Suffice to say, the mountain has 'form' since Llyn Morwynion, while not specifically namechecked, nevertheless appears to feature in The Mabinogion... since we learn Blodeuedd, upon hearing that the wizard Gwydion was hot in pursuit:

"...took her maidens with her and made for a court that was on the mountains, and over Cynfal river they made for a court that was on the mountain. But through fear they could not proceed save with their faces looking backwards. And then, never a thing knew they before they fell into the lake, and were all drowned save she alone.."

A visit to the ancient stone pile is recommended (a surfeit of quarry workings notwithstanding) since there are some fantastic views to be had from the summit. Hey, the archaeology's pretty impressive, too, although I did wonder whether - having noted over the years how a number of Welsh summit cairns incorporate pre-existing crags within the structure - this was actually originally intended as a ring cairn? A crafty attempt to save effort, or symbolic incorporation of the living rock into the monument? Ermm. Let's go with the latter, eh? Having said that, the professionals are pretty sure, Coflein reckoning:

A ring cairn located around the summit of Y Garnedd...It has a diameter of 12m, mainly consisting of turf-covered stonework 0.2 - 0.3m high, with a pronounced kerb in places. It is best preserved on the NE and NW sides, the S side partly formed from a natural outcrop. In the centre is a depression, but this appears to have been scooped out in modern times. There is an arc-shaped pile of stones on its E side, and slabs to the W which may be natural....." [W B Horton, H & H, 10/01/2014].

Y Garnedd is most easily approached via a track above Llyn Dubach beside the B4407 from Ysbyty Ifan.

Nant yr Olchfa (Cairn(s))

The Migneint, an extensive area of peat blanket bog overlooked by the Arenig mountains of Gwynedd, is not the place for those seeking easy walking... or trendy 'outdoor experiences'... to venture. 'Hostile' or 'bleak' might be appropriate adjectives, particularly when the cloud base is down and the rain just won't relent.

However, don the boots when the weather is a touch more salubrious and the curious traveller may experience a touch of that special wilderness vibe without too much effort. Perfect for the short day, or when the body just won't respond. It happens, right? Furthermore, there are a number of hidden highlights to discover here, far from the maddening crowds, so to speak: Llyn Conwy, source of the river high above Cwm Penmachno; the massive prehistoric ring cairn crowning Y Garnedd, keeping watch over Llyn Morwynion; equally massive cairns surmounting the sentinel peaks of Arenig Fach and Arenig Fawr; and arguably the most obscure of all - in my opinion - a lovely little Bronze Age cairn located above the Nant yr Olchfa, upon the flanks of Carnedd Iago at SH7919140367.

Although not that far from the B4391 - and within sight of the usual moronic petrol head bikers and wannabee rally clowns racing up and down during Easter Bank Holiday - the location is one to savour for such limited expenditure of effort. Hey, the monument even displays a hint of a former internal cist. Should you lack a GPS (hopefully you do and still engage in traditional fieldcraft rather than have some bloody satellite tell you where you are - or not as the case may be) the cairn is not easy to find. Indeed, I came away bemused the first time of asking. However, persevere since an audience is worth the effort.

Coflein has this to say:

"A small funerary cairn found emerging from the peat. The exposed circular stone structure measures 4.5m in diameter....There is no obvious external kerb and the exposed area is up to 0.4m high. There is one possible recumbent side slab for a cist surviving in the northern half of the cairn. The cairn is located on a flat spur of land raised above the confluence of two streams". [P.J.Schofield, OANorth, 29th July 2008]

Cairn, South of Ffridd Lwyd, Y Rhinogydd (Round Cairn)

Snowdonia possesses more than its fair share of prehistoric burial cairns set high upon wind and rain-lashed mountain tops. Hey, sometimes they are even bathed in sunshine. It happens. Now and again.

However, fellow Citizens Cairn should note that some pretty fine examples can be found at a lower level, too. Perfect for those days when the poor old limbs simply cannot take any more. Particularly at my age. Or, perhaps, when the clouds have descended to subsume the landscape in clammy, grey vapour... when one would need to be a certifiable nutter to venture into the gloom, even clutching a compass and good intentions.

Now a reference to one such monument can be discerned upon the current 1:25k OS map (not the 1:50k version, mind) at SH68383416 - that is, a little to the southwest(ish) of Llyn Trawsfynydd, beneath the seriously 'rough' peaks of the northern Rhinogydd. Note that the latter are most certainly NOT an environment to be caught within hill fog.

Seeking it out is well worth the effort, since not only is the cairn set upon a wild, uncompromising hillside boasting great views and a special upland vibe... it also possesses the remains of a cist within its centre. So no doubt about the prehistoric provenance of this is one, then? Too right. Furthermore, the remains of what seemed to me a possible multi-phase settlement at roadside might be inferred as the former home of the VIP once interred here? Now there's a thought.

Ergyd Isaf (Round Barrow(s))

Set overlooking the massive steelworks of Port Talbot, looming a couple of miles to the west, the coastal height of Mynydd Brombil is crowned by a pair of 'tumuli' at Ergyd Isaf. Both burial cairns are reasonably well preserved - the southwestern monument by far the larger - and reached by a steep, yet interesting climb from the village of Goytre within Cwm Dyffryn to the north.

Things are not as they should be, however, the western environs of Mynydd Brombill having been chosen as the site of a 'wind farm' whose owners, far from being receptive to those within the community wishing to better understand their heritage (as might perhaps have been expected from such a 'progressive industry?'), instead, vehemently threaten 'prosecution' upon any antiquarian wishing to view the primary cairn up close by venturing into its field via the gate. Now while irresponsible trespass (a 'civil wrongdoing') clearly needs to be stopped for the good of everyone, the fact that - as far as I'm aware - the act of erecting of a fence upon (and thus damaging) a scheduled ancient monument is a CRIMINAL offence would appear to have escaped the notice of otherwise very observant landowners? Not to mention the authorities. But there you are. For the record, I settled for a view from behind the fence.....

Despite these shortcomings, there is still much to celebrate at Ergyd Isaf, the assumed final resting place of a Bronze Age VIP - hey, a precursor to local greats Anthony Hopkins or Richard Burton perhaps? One can only hope a more inclusive attitude will one day be considered for these prehistoric treasures in order to restore them to their former prominence within the local landscape. Not too late to make amends, people.

Gaer Hill (Hillfort)

This large, powerful hillfort lies just a mile to the southwest of the wondrous Black Cliff promontory fort... but couldn't really be any more different in terms of siting or ground plan. Hence, combining visits made a lot of sense upon a somewhat inclement February day. Well, while in the area it'd be rude not to, right?

Furthermore, unlike the much smaller enclosure, access is pretty straightforward, a public footpath sign indicating the way at the junction with the road approaching Penterry Farm etc (where, incidentally, I was able to park up with undue fuss). Hey, if in doubt, look for the transmitter antennae which now also crown the hilltop - one assumes not an original Iron Age feature.....

Understanding the ground plan of Gaer Hill is not so simple should you happen to lack a 1:25K OS map. However, in summary, a powerful inner enclosure is nowadays supplemented by significant surviving outer ramparts to south and east, the latter (together with the eastern flank of the inner) lying within the trees and quite substantial in form. One presumes these outer defences - once upon a time, anyway - formed a continuous circuit?

Also of note is a rather fine panorama looking across Chepstow racecourse to the mouth of the Severn Estuary, whereby the spellbound traveller can appreciate a grandstand view of journey's end for two of Pumlumon's iconic watercourses: Hafren and Gwy. Pumlumon should really need no introduction.

Black Cliff (Hillfort)

Subsumed within trees at the northern apex of Black Cliff, overlooking the sinuous River Wye (Afon Gwy) to the approx north of Chepstow - not that I could see the river, but there you are - this is a fine example of an inland 'promontory fort', rendered all the more special by being 'hidden in plain sight'... always the most effective camouflage, I find.

Such is the (sublime) topography here that the original inhabitants were able to concentrate the vast majority of their effort upon erecting a substantial 'cross bank' isolating the neck of the promontory to the southwest. Little more, save (apparently) some scarping of the natural slopes, was required elsewhere to create a first-class fortified enclosure. And to recall those Victorian mugs once tried to con society into believing our ancestors were 'rude savages' dragged kicking and screaming to civilisation by them damn Romans. Yeah, right. Not buying that.

I approached starting from an unclassified public track (those green dots upon the OS 1:25K map) veering off from the Penterry Farm access road, crossing open fields to ascend from the north-east. It was well worth the effort. Yeah, Chepstow may be justly famous for William FitzOsbern's magnificent Norman castle - or the Racecourse, should one happen to be a mug punter with a thing for the gee-gees - but clearly, there is much more of interest for the more discerning Citizens Cairn in the immediate locale... most obviously at Gaer Hill, just a mile to the southwest.

Graig Fawr (Chambered Tomb)

Located toward the south-west of Graig Fawr - an elongated, grassy ridge rising to the approx north-east of Pontardulais - I found this Neolithic Chambered Tomb to be much more substantial than anticipated. Yeah, as South Walian prehistoric monuments go, this one retains a significant volume of 'chamber'... with two groups of orthostats (uprights) still visible within the low residue of cairn material.

Sadly, it would appear local morons think the site fair game for the dumping of broken glass, not an uncommon occurrence in South Wales in my experience. I hereby call upon the decent citizens of Y Bont to sort out this cancer within their midst. Let's not be judged by the very dregs of our society, eh?

Nevertheless, such was the vibe here - within the swirling hill fog and precipitation - that even such mindless, pointless desecration did not detract too much from the visit. Indeed, by extending the walk to the summit of Graig Fawr the more perceptive, curious traveller will discern the remains of an Iron Age enclosure... a hillfort, no less. There are other prehistoric cairns and such to search out, too. Happy days.

Lan Fraith (Round Barrow(s))

Although my suspicions were aroused following the subsequent identification of what I'd taken to be unrecorded 'round barrows' upon Egsair Rhiwlan (immediately to the SE) as the impact residue of shells from a former WW1 artillery range... it would appear the monument to be found here is indeed the real deal. Sweet.

Coflein has this to say:

"A circular, grassy mound, 7m in diameter and 0.6m high. It has a thin peat cover but slight erosion shows that the main body of the mound is composed of earth and stone. It is located on a flat, broad hill summit, overlooking the Elan valley. When visited in June 2009 the area was used for rough grazing and vegetation cover was grass. [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 9/9/2009]"

If obscure hangs away from the tourist bustle of Cwmdeuddwr are your thing, they don't come much better for such limited effort than this little round barrow.

Carn Ricet (Cairn(s))

A bit of an enigma, this: old maps clearly show some 'structure' - presumably a cairn - standing beside the old Monks' Trod, a byway linking the heart of Elenydd with Ffair-Rhos and Strata Florida to the west. However..... deciding to go and have a look upon a very inclement 23/7/2020 I found... well, very little, to be fair. The barest hint of a stone pile amongst the carnage caused by lazy muppets in their shiny new 4x4s engaged in '1mph off-road experiences'. Such thrills! Yeah, whatever.

Nevertheless, well worth the walk from Pont ar Elan across the summit plateau of Esgair Rhiwlan - or, if you prefer, follow the lower level green track. Incidentally, the 'mounds' I discovered upon Esgair Rhiwlan are apparently shell impact residue from a WW1 artillery range once located here! Just so you know.

Coflein has this to say:

"Carn Ricet is a possible prehistoric cairn that is now denuded, turf-covered, and hard to define. It is disturbed by a trackway... and the small amount of stone visible on the surface would appear to be the remains of a more recent cairn marking the boundary of a sheepwalk and possibly the line of a drovers' road. [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 18/1/2010]"

Carn Wen, Garth (Llanwrthwl) (Round Cairn)

Now I must, first off, confess as to having been certain I'd been here - to this VERY substantial upland Bronze Age cairn - before... venturing south from Trembyd in thick hill fog some years earlier. Haha, yeah. Needless to say, the unexpected sight of a truly massive cairn upon the northern horizon as I head for Garth this time around - where I reckoned no cairn should be - was sufficient cause for re-appraisal. Conclusion: map reading muppetry resulting in a vapour-shrouded audience with Carn-y-Geifr (not Carn Wen) back in the day. Ahem.

To be fair Carn Wen is unmistakable... once one knows what it looks like, that is. A Bronze Age behemoth some 78ft in diameter, albeit a little defaced by a couple of small modern 'marker' cairns and a curious 'shelter', set upon a high plateau of billowing grass. As is the case with most of Wales' other 'White Cairns' I have had the pleasure of visiting, this example is distinctly more of a 'battleship grey' hue. But none the worse for that, it has to be said.

All is quiet, save the equestrian - and rather striking - farmer's wife met earlier in the day thundering past upon her mount. A good place to be and take in the vast skies for a while. Best not attempt it in mist though... just saying. Unless you can actually read a compass.

Coflein records:

"A cairn, 23.8m in diameter and 0.8m high, having three projecting stone platforms about its E perimeter. Two small recent cairns and a double shelter have taken their place upon the cairn." [J.Wiles 23.04.02]

Garth (Cairn(s))

The Cwmdeuddwr Hills of Y Elenydd, extending westwards from the bustling Welsh market town of Rhayader, are probably best known for harbouring the great Elan Valley reservoirs. Few, save the occasional isolated farmer, live here nowadays. However, those intrepid souls who choose to don the boots and head into that forbiddingly wet landscape on foot will discover abundant traces of those who came before: the pioneering prehistoric farmers who first set down permanent roots in the wake of the Mesolithic hunter-gatherer wanderers. Perhaps the most tangible of these reminders are the great burial cairns they erected upon the hilltops.

One such monument - there are many other examples in the extended locale, including some 'whoppers' - can be found at SN98736029 upon Garth, an eastern promontory of Drum Ddu. OK, by all accounts what remains constitutes but the substantial, robbed footprint of what must have been a pretty hefty, large-diameter cairn in its day... however, it is more than enough in the circumstances, given the fabulous location overlooking the River Wye (Afon Gwy) flowing from Pumlumon.

Coflein lists the dimensions as: "..13m by 10.7m and 0.3m high." [J.Wiles 23.04.02]

Note that Coflein lists another cairn some way to the west at SN9854060330 which didn't really grab my attention, to be fair. Probably my mistake.

Blaen Ganolwyn Fach (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This small Bronze Age cairn cemetery may well be bypassed - unnoticed - by those (such as they are) heading for the wild delights of Drum Ddu or Garth... and their far more conspicuous prehistoric monuments.... from the south. Yeah, one needed to check the map - and remove a splodge of baked bean (I believe) obscuring the relevant detail - before being sure of the location.

Nonetheless, the three(?) cairns are discernible among the ubiquitous industrial-strength upland grass and, furthermore, the sweeping vista towards South Wales is one to behold before moving on to check out the massive stone piles even I couldn't miss.

Coflein reckons:

"Two probable and one possible cairn: I - at SN98095991 [is] c.3.7m in diameter and 0.3m high, with a slight central depression; II - at SN98125993, 4.1m in diameter and 0.45m high, with a central depression; III - at SN98135995, c.1.8m in diameter and 0.3m high. It is thought unlikely that these are clearance cairns and the preferred interpretation is that of a cairn cemetery."
[J.Wiles 24.04.02]

Trichrug (Sacred Hill)

Trychrug - or Trichrug, if you so prefer - is a fairly substantial hill (rising to 1,125ft) between Trefilan and Cross Inn. The B4337 crosses its eastern shoulder, actually a Drover's Road in times gone by... which, given the (alleged) propensity of those chaperoning animals to market to the odd shandy or two, might help explain sightings of fairies 'round about across the years?

Having said that, the hill does have form - and not just in a topographical sense - since it seems quite plausible to me that the hill's nomenclature is a reference to the massive Bronze Age round barrows which still crown the summit plateau. Sure, although there is actually a quartet of such monuments to be found here, one example is a relative 'tiddler', at least nowadays....

Set upon a north-west/south-east alignment, the northern pair is actually comprised of two very substantial round barrows indeed, albeit seriously overgrown with sundry industrial-strength vegetation. I assume by the OS designation of 'Tumuli' these are not heavily 'grassed-over' cairns? Whatever, the vibe is excellent for it would appear even the local dog walkers - who see fit to leave their mess (presumably of their guiltless canine charges) upon the approach track - do not bother to venture here.

Llethr Waun-lwyd (Round Cairn)

Despite having walked the uplands of Wales for over 30 years now, one is nevertheless often gob-smacked at the scale of the prehistoric monuments which still remain 'up here'. Nowhere is this happy state of affairs more evident, perhaps, than upon the south-eastern tops of The Cwmdeuddwr Hills between the tourist hubs of Rhayader and Builth Wells.

Here, a glance at the 1:25k OS map will reveal numerous 'Cairns' annotated in 'Antiquarian Typeface'; however, what is not disclosed by those wondrous cartographers is the relative size of these monuments. OK, an indication of potential substantiality might be determined by whether local folk saw fit to assign a cairn an individual moniker... there are two examples nearby: Carn Wen (White Cairn) and, crowning Drum Ddu, Carn-y-Geifr (Cairn of the Goats). The massive monument upon Llethr Waun-lwyd, however, takes the weary traveller completely by surprise.

It would appear there is some debate between professional archaeologists as to whether the cairn represents the huge, low 'footprint of a heavily robbed round cairn... or perhaps a well preserved 'platform' cairn? I appreciate the dilemma. I approached from the 'dead end' road beyond Nantgwyn to the south. However, that would be just one of many options, depending upon the proposed itinerary.

Coflein says:

"A cairn, 13.1m in diameter and 0.5m high, set on an upland shelf open to the S and W, which possibly represents the base of a ruined cairn, or else is a platform cairn." [J.Wiles 23.04.02]

Graig-wen (Llanddewi Brefi) (Cairn(s))

Set in a forestry clearing at the head of Cwm Twrch, a few miles above and to the approx south-east of the idyllic village of Llanddewi Brefi, this Bronze Age cairn is very much of the 'if you didn't know it was here' variety, despite being hidden in plain sight immediately beside the sole road traversing the valley.

The monument was more-or-less engulfed with springy heather at the time of my September visit, with just a small section of exposed cairn material - topped by a fading, hand-painted sign confirming its prehistoric ancestry - visible amongst the otherwise all-prevailing green.

Those who, the alien presence of conifers upon our uplands notwithstanding, discern a special vibe within the bosom of massed trees will find a brief (or extended, as you wish) interlude here worthwhile. The violent, wind-induced motion of the foliage was, indeed, something to experience... at odds, yet somehow complimentary to the relaxed lunchtime vibe following a full-on morning upon Pen y Corn to the immediate east.

Coflein has this to say:

"A disturbed round cairn, 8.5m in diameter & 0.4m high, set on generally level ground." [J.Wiles 23.07.04]

Carn Wen (Cynwyl Gaeo) (Round Cairn)

This, another of Wales' numerous 'White Cairns', may well initially confuse the uninitiated ... since its hue is very much at the, er, 'greener' end of the spectrum nowadays. Hey, it rains a lot upon The Cambrian Mountains... grass likes it here. Likewise, if the truth be told.

A not insignificant trek starting from the farm of Blaneau (take the road north from the idyllic hamlet of Cwrt-y-Cadno prior to climbing steeply first left) will grant the curious visitor an audience with the grassed-over remains of what once must have been a pretty substantial monument in its time, now supporting an OS trig pillar. The expansive vistas to be had are worth the effort themselves. Although don't forget the waterproofs, the inclement Mid Walian weather seeing fit to give me a veritable pasting for my trouble.

Coflein has this to say about yet another obscure gem:

"A cairn, 18m diameter and 1.0m high, mutilated about its center and having an Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar... set upon its eastward rim." [J.J. Hall, Trysor, 28 March 2012]

Pen y Corn (Cairn(s))

The wild Cambrian Mountain uplands between Llandovery and Tregaron may appear windswept and deserted nowadays, the occasional hamlet or farmstead notwithstanding. However prospective visitors donning boots and venturing forth upon overgrown - or simply non-existent - paths will encounter tangible reminders of significant occupation back in the day: the great burial cairns of Bronze Age VIPs foremost. So, times may have changed... but fair to say it can still be a tad windy.

Pen y Corn, the southwestern spur of Bryn Brawd, possesses a pair of such monuments overlooking Cwm Twrch. OK, not as obvious as the massive example visible upon Craig Twrch, perhaps... but nonetheless a great place to sit, chill and watch the soaring Red Kites for a while.

Coflein gives a little sparse detail, thus:

SN6946051520 - "A Bronze Age cairn on a ridge... The cairn measures 12 metres in diameter and up to 0.75 metres high."

SN6934251349 (to the southwest) - "A Bronze Age cairn, on a local summit, measuring 9 metres in diameter and up to 0.55 metres high."

[R.P. Sambrook, Trysor, 22 March 2012]

Danish Camp, Shoeburyness (Hillfort)

Shoeburyness.... There's an obvious clue - at least for anyone with a passing interest in Old English nomenclature - that there was once a 'fortified place' here guarding the Essex flank of the mouth of the Thames Estuary. However, thanks to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles of 894 CE, the assumption was that this 'Danish Camp' was the work of the the Viking leader Haesten: "The king [Alfred] then went westward with the army toward Exeter.... Whilst he was thus busied there with the army, in the west, the marauding parties were both gathered together at Shobury in Essex , and there built a fortress." Stands to reason, right? Or at least it did until excavations undertaken during 1998 unearthed classic Iron Age interior features, confirmation of a Middle/Late Bronze Age pottery association with the visible remains of the ramparts following a year later. Hmmm. Pretty conclusive, methinks.

Now whether The Danes, perhaps reeling from defeat at their former Benfleet HQ earlier that year, fell back upon - and adapted? - the already ancient fortifications (perhaps by erecting a smaller Roman/Norman-style parasitical fort within), prior to finally giving up the ghost and retreating back across The North Sea... or threw up a now completely lost defensive perimeter nearby, is probably something only full-scale excavation could determine. Whatever the case, and despite the extensive destruction wrought by the occupation of the site by the Board of Ordnance in 1849 (and successors), much more of the original survives than I had supposed. Yeah, one has to know where to look, that's all.

Historic England (List Entry 1017206) reckons:

"....The settlement, which many 19th century antiquarians associated with historical references to a Danish Camp, lay in a rural setting until 1849 when Shoebury Ness was adopted as a range finding station by the Board of Ordnance and later developed into a complex of barracks and weapon ranges. The visible remains of the Iron Age settlement were probably reduced at this time leaving only two sections of the perimeter bank, or rampart, standing. This bank is thought to have originally continued north and east, following a line to East Gate and Rampart Street, and enclosed a sub-rectangular area of coastal land measuring some 450m in length. The width of the enclosure cannot be ascertained as the south eastern arm (if any existed) is presumed lost to coastal erosion. The surviving section of the north west bank, parallel to the shore line and flanking Warrior Square Road, now lies some 150m-200m inland. It measures approximately 80m in length with an average height of 2m and width of 11m. The second upstanding section, part of the southern arm of the enclosure, lies some 150m to the south alongside Beach Road... [Trial excavations within the enclosure during 1998] revealed a dense pattern of well preserved Iron Age features, including evidence of four round houses (identifiable from characteristic drainage gullies), two post- built structures, several boundary ditches and numerous post holes and pits. Fragments from a range of local and imported pottery vessels date the main phase of occupation to the Middle Iron Age (around the period 400-200 BC)...."

The surviving defences now enclose Gunners' Park... a nearby blast mound 'protecting' a long-defunct magazine explains both the name of said recreational facility and, one might suppose, the comparatively less upstanding nature of the southern bank versus that engulfed by trees to the north-west. What with ample free parking, Nature Reserve, children's playground, WW2 coastal defences and beach... c'mon, what's not to like? Just don't forget the Spam sandwiches. Bloody Vikings.

Prittlewell Camp (Hillfort)

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:

Mill Mound, Salcott-cum-Virley (Round Barrow(s))

As with its not too distant neighbour at Tolleshunt Major, a little under 3.5 miles to the southwest, this fine round barrow, of copious circumference, has unfortunately been lumbered with the moniker 'Mill Mound', no doubt a reference to the former Virley Mill at TL948138, the latter demolished in 1900. However, don't be fooled by such floury shenanigans. For this is the real prehistoric deal, worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake. And then some.

Historic England has this to say:

"The barrow 380m east of Payne's Farm is an example of a rare form of bowl barrow with a causeway across its surrounding ditch.... It survives as a hemispherical earth mound which measures 30m in diameter and c.2m in height. It is surrounded by a shallow ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the monument. This has become partly infilled over the years but survives as a slight earthwork 3m wide and c.0.4m deep. The ditch has a causeway 5m wide on the eastern side." [List Entry Number: 1009450]

A public footpath heads south from Colchester Road (very roughly midway between Payne's Farm and Brooklyn) leading unerringly to the great monument, the surrounding ditch still pretty clear.
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Hi, I'm Robert ... with a passion for attempting to understand the lives of the pioneering prehistoric inhabitants of these British Isles, seeking out the remains they left behind in order to ask myself "why here ... why did it matter so... why such commitment?".. Needless to say, I'm still pondering such intangibles. Just as an empty house appears to retain echoes of past humanity... so does the stone circle, the chambered cairn, the long barrow and the mountain top funerary cairn. Visiting them, I think, helps engender a certain 'connection' with this land of ours, with ourselves - our past, our present and our future; a reference point for those of us perhaps struggling to make sense of this so-called 'computer world' Kraftwerk warned us was a'coming in 1981.... danke, mein herren.

Should my amateur posts prove an inspiration for others to venture into the Great Outdoors... please bear in mind the hills and mountains of these Isles are unpredictable, potentially dangerous places. Ensure you have map/compass/waterproofs... and know how to use them, even in high summer. Weather conditions can change bewilderingly quickly, so don't get caught out. Unlike some, I prefer to engage with landowners wherever possible. Being a cartoon 'class warrior' - such as Monbiot - might be jolly good fun for the frustrated 'rebel'... but not for those who follow in their footsteps. I find requests for access are rarely declined.

George Orwell - 'The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.'

Martin Gore - 'Like a pawn
On the eternal board
Who’s never quite sure
What he’s moved towards
I walk blindly on'...

Truman Capote - 'Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavour.'

Oscar Wilde - 'The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.'

John Lydon - 'It is a reward to be chastised by the ignorant.'

Winston Churchill - '“The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.”

Ultravox - 'Taking shelter by the standing stones
Miles from all that moves....'

My TMA Content: