Sunday, July 14, 2013

Three Hills Tumuli

left hand path takes you to the barrows

A hot day to visit this unique place, starting at the church with its wall paintings, through the churchyard, along a long path, turn the corner and there are the great  romano-british burial mounds, 1st/2nd century AD.
Covered in long grass they present a shaggy exterior, the largest is 45 feet high, built of soil and chalk the wild flowers reflect the nature of this soil.  What did I see, sweet woodruff, ladies bedstraw, angelica maybe, St.John's Wort maybe, oxeye daisy, thyme, mullien and several almost impossible to identify.  Entering the glade where the three tumuli lie surrounded by trees and you enter into another ecosystem.  The sharp blue of tiny damselflies, great dragon flies, bees buzz incessantly up the steep banks and on top of the mounds.   Dark brown butterflies flutter up from the grass as you walk, for once there is a surfeit of butterflies, a rare sight nowadays.

St.John's Wort (hyperium) I think

But what is the yellow 'cow parsley' angelica?

White campion

Me at the top of the largest barrow
Thaxted typical Essex town
Three Hills pub/hotel, originally three cottages when the railway was built in this out of the way village.
Beeching put a stop to that!


  1. Loved this tour. Yellow flower - it isn't ragwort is it?
    Didn't realise you lived somewhere quite near to Thaxted - we love it. We have friends who farm just outside Thaxted so know the area.

  2. It all looks so lovely.
    yes I agree it's ragwort. Poisonous to live stock but food for the stunning Cinnabar moth.

  3. Thank you both for identification, and yes we are a few miles from Thaxted. Forgotten how picturesque it is with its jettied medieval houses, Dick Turpin lived here as well....

  4. I could give a more positive ID with a close-up - could be Ragwort. The St John's wort has two main types - square stemmed (you can feel this) or Perforate - hold a leaf up to the light and you will see holes in it.

    What a fascinating spot - and that last one is a HUGE tumulus. Reminds me of a motte, from the size. Interesting that the church was built close by. I wonder who is buried under the tumuli? Is there any local folk memory?

    1. Hi Jennie, What I need is a NEW camera, thinking of getting a bridging one, we will see. But I need to take close ups like EM, but nothing to complicated.....
      Inside the burial chamber, there seems to be an altar in one of them, and plenty of Roman goods, so conspicuous consumption but with the British pagan touch of going to a better place, you need food and wine.....