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Prehistoric Landscape of the Stour Valley

CropMarksBookThe Middle Stour Valley, between Bures and Wormingford has long been of interest to Colchester Archaeological Group (CAG), owing to the number and variety of cropmarks visible from the air.  These came to light largely through the aerial photography of Ida McMaster, a long-standing member of CAG, who died in 2014 at the age of 96. She took to the skies with her camera regularly between the early 1970s and late 1990s, and being a resident of MountBures, was particularly keen to photograph this part of the valley. The cropmarks provide evidence of activity in the area from the early Neolithic, in the form of a long mortuary enclosure and at least one, or probably two, cursuses.  Later, Bronze Age people also used the area to bury their dead in round barrows, often clustered around or aligned on the earlier features.  CAG has been investigating the cropmarks for a number of years and has now published a booklet, ‘The Stour Valley: A Prehistoric Landscape’.  The booklet, which is 40 pages long, has a foreword by Ronald Blythe, is fully illustrated in colour and costs £3 plus p&p. It can be ordered e-mailing  – enquiries

As part of the groups ongoing research into this area, further detail is provided here. The work was compiled from smaller study areas based on Essex Historic Environment Records (EHER) – sometimes referred to as Sites and Monuments Records. Each study area with its associated notes and images is set out individually. This is an ongoing piece of work and the files will be updated as research continues. Any information or ideas you may wish to contribute should be sent to Ellie –  enquiries

Introduction and map

Map for website








1. EHER 9178 and EHER 9181

2. EHER 9180

3. EHER 9190, 9189, 9193

4. EHER 9191 and 9192

5. EHER 9194

6. EHER 9199

7. EHER 9236 and EHER 9276

8EHER 9265

9. EHER 9195, 9179

10. EHER 9269 and 9198

References and list of aerial photographs

Further geophysical surveys have been carried out in the valley and the results presented by Dr Tim Dennis in a talk to the Group in February 2018. That presentation can be viewed here:

geosurveys_2017_low_Q (3)


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