Croham Hurst Woods – London, England - Atlas Obscura

Croham Hurst Woods

Late Mesolithic settlements and Bronze Age burials have been excavated at this ancient woodland on the top of a hill. 

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Croham Hurst Woods is an ancient woodland in the middle of suburban South Croydon, Surrey, that is considered a nationally important archaeological site. The entire woodland covers quite a steep hill, where evidence of late Mesolithic settlements has been found. Neolithic flint tools have also been found, showing that settlement continued into the later Stone Age. There is also evidence of Bronze Age burial sites known as barrows, which date from around 2100 B.C., right at the top. Stone plaques indicate where the round barrows and settlements were discovered.

According to archeologists, it was common for ancient Brythonic tribes to consider hills sacred spaces, used for sun worshipping and funerary rituals. This woodland hasn’t changed much for thousands of years, when you walk here it’s like stepping into a time warp imagining how the entire area of Croydon and London will have looked during the Mesolithic period.

As well as being a site of archeological importance it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The woods cover 35 hectares, and are made up of hazel, beech, oak, wood anemones, wavy hair-grass, ferns, heather, wild strawberry, garlic, and bilberry. The hill is made up of Thanet sand with chalk and black heath pebble beds. Parakeets and crows populate these woods, alongside grey squirrels, wood pigeons, foxes, and even Roe deer.

It’s quite an enchanting place with extremely old, beautifully crooked trees, beds of bluebell, lily of the valley, St. John’s wort, and spikenard.

This is quite the hidden gem within the London area as green spaces in a concrete metropolis are few and Croham Hurst Woods is unusual, primordial, and a wild haven to escape city life for a spell.

Know Before You Go

There is no car park. Parking only available along the side road. This woodland has no toilet facilities or cafe or wheelchair access. The hill is reasonably steep, so wear good pair of walking shoes. Tends to be muddy and slippy in the winter months.

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May 14, 2024

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