(Stocking means a field of deforested trees). The magic of this much depleted ancient forest still manages to attract the spiritual as it has done through the ages. And in the 19th century we gave it further importance by directing the Meridian line from Greenwich through the centre of Easneye Woods, making it the centre of the world, cartographically speaking.
In 1899 Mr. Thomas Fowell Buxton and his son, John Henry, began digging into an ancient mound in their woods at Easneye. Quite correctly they invited the Vice-
A barrow in Easneye Wood, near Ware, belonging to Mr. T. F. Buxton, was opened by him and his son, John Henry Buxton, on 19th July, 1899 and I was requested to undertake the superintendence of the exploration. The barrow was about 60 ft. in diameter, in the woods, and about 10ft. above the level of the neighbouring ground. I was at first in the hope that it might prove to be of Roman date, analogous to the Youngbury barrow about three miles north of here, opened in 1889, but ... these hopes were doomed to be disappointed.
A trench about three feet wide was cut in the barrow from the south to the centre and carried down to about two feet below the normal ground level. The barrow was composed of a sandy loam with pebbles, such as is found in the immediate neighbourhood and is probably of glacial age. As the centre was approached traces of burning became evident, inasmuch as numerous small fragments of charcoal were found eventually beneath a slab of partially charred wood; a considerable deposit of burnt bones about 18 ins. below the surface of the ground was discovered. Not a solitary piece of pottery; not a fragment of bronze; not a single worked flint was found, such as might possibly have assisted in determining the date at which the burnt bones were deposited. The only extraneous object found was the jawbone of a young pig.
All, therefore, that can be said of the barrow, is that, like many others in which nothing more than a deposit of calcined bones is found, is that it is probably of pre-
“I found that the whole body had been burnt, as there are portions of almost every part of the skeleton which are recognisable...”
Dr. Garson had little else to say about the body except that he could not determine the sex or the age of the bones. This was obviously a very disappointing report and a very disappointing dig for all concerned. Today, however, the sex of the body and carbon-
Without a date for any remains from the barrow, the pre-
There are still footpaths which run through the Easneye estate and it is well-
EASNEYE: ALWAYS A SPECIAL PLACE
by Ron Dale
Easneye was chosen as a holy place by the ancient tribes who built a barrow there in which to bury their dead. It is believed to contain a large number of cremated human remains. Later the pagan Saxons built a Frith some distance away, probably once housing a large wooden hall and the Frith was the place where pagan Saxons worshipped their own gods, which were usually connected with Nature, such as large rocks, springs and wells, trees etc. with their sacred groves nearby (Lady Grove, Stanstead Grove, Frith Grove). These three groves are all to be found on the higher slopes of Easneye and are marked on the 1840 Tithe Map simply as groves, with the exception of Lady Grove which is named in full and located near the river Ash close to Watersplace. In the heathen religion and cult of the frith, women were classed as frith-
The importance of Easneye waned gradually. The Saxons, once Christianised, built their church well away from their pagan site. In our instance, they built a church at Stanstead Bury about a mile away, again on a high point. Easneye became a park in which to hunt for deer but a few cottages are known to have existed there in previous centuries. Sir Simon de Stanstede lived there in the 12th century (see story on Alwines Frith), which was owned by the Norman lord of the manor, Roger de Wanchy, and in pre-
Today Easneye Mansion houses the All Nations Christian College, a training school for Christian missionaries, once again a centre of spirituality for those who believe in worshipping an invisible god. The Buxton family built this mansion as their family home and as the manor house in the 1860’s as Mr. T. F. Buxton was lord of the manor with strong religious leanings. Eventually the mansion was passed on generously to the missionary cause. In one sense Easneye has always been a special place, a spiritual place, a wooded hillside, hidden away from passers-