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.
The southern barrow is easy to find. There's a heavily used footpath that passes right next to it, yet because of its proximity to the hospital, it seems to have been left alone, with just the odd beer can at the top. It looks to be in good condition, although I don't suppose the trees will do much good.
To get to it, turn into Hamstel Road, park in the little multi-storey car park in Wych Elm, then cross Hamstel Road and you'll see a metalled footpath/ cycle path that leads into Princess Alexandra Hospital. Walk along it a few yards and you'll see the barrow on your left.
I had a look for the other two barrows. I couldn't find them, but suspect they may be in the small wood a few hundred yards further down Hamstel Road, on the right. It was mid-May and very overgrown, so I couldn't really explore (nice bluebells, though).
As stated in subsequent comments to my fieldnote of 21/2/12 prospective visitors to this obscure, yet rewarding site are recommended to contact local TMA member 'Castlecorbenic' in order to achieve a stress free (not to mention safe - the woods are used for shooting on occasions) on-site vibe.
alexjones (@) castlecorbenic . com
My thanks to Alex for stepping up to the plate on behalf of Essex heritage. To my mind this is an example of a sensible workaround we should actively encourage.