It seems almost surreal, a trip to an Essex woodland but accessed via a London Underground station. But take a walk from Theydon Bois to Epping and that’s precisely what you’ll do. Even before you’re out of earshot of the traffic, you’ll be passing trees that graced these parts long before the buildings that surround them.
In this ancient woodland is hidden something even older: an Iron Age hill fort, said to be the location for Boudicca’s last stand against the Romans almost two thousand years ago. Having defeated the Romans at their then capital, Colchester, Ambresbury Banks is thought by many to be the site of the great warrior woman’s final battle, though other places claim the same honour.
Hidden off the main path in a hollow, the fort consists of a 2 metre high bank and alongside it, a ditch, which together encircle an area of about 11 acres. Archaeologists excavating the site have found pottery shards, flints and lumps of baked clay. By the time of Boudicca’s battle, the fort had been abandoned for a couple of decades. It’s hard to imagine a clearing here now that the vegetation has regrown, but this area would once have been cleared as farmland for the fort’s inhabitants.