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Hullbridge Village History

The History of Hullbridge village.

This record of the history of Hullbridge is written by extracting information from various publications and by documenting peoples memories.
For the very early times of Hullbridge we have to refer to documented Archaeological surveys.

Ice Age c12000BC

Mammoth Tusk find.

On 5th July 1983 at 2.30 p.m. local historian Les Holden was searching around Fenn Creek when he unearthed a Mammoth tusk which he donated to Chelmsford Museum. Essex Chronicle captured a picture of him with his find. A black and white photograph of two men holding aloft a large curved object, a mammoth's
	 						tusk. The gentleman on the left wearing black rimmed glasses is a local historian and finder of
	 						the relic Mr Les Holden, the other gentleman with a black thick beard is unknown.

Mesolithic c8000 6800BC

The last great glaciation is believed to have occurred at the end of the Paleolithic Age c9000BC. and this had resulted in Britain being split apart from Europe.

The great melt

Paleogeography (the study of the geography in the past) has allowed people recently to understand the changes to the Essex coastline around 7000-6500BC. Initially the English Channel / North Sea basin was dry land and as a result of rapid melting ice sheets the sea level rose at rates of 2m per century causing rapid changes to the Essex coastline. Through samples collected from the sea floor it is believed that the North Sea was, between Dover and Calais approx., 45m (147 ft.) below today's level and at its shallowest 26m (85 ft.) just off the coast of Holland. This results in Hullbridge being 4m above sea level of that time, which would have reached as far in as Fambridge. This made Hullbridge an ideal place to be for people to live. They had large expanses of trees, which would have attracted animals and so provided them with food and materials for building their temporary accommodation. These people where known as "Nomadic Hunter Gatherers". The Crouch by Hullbridge would have initially been a fresh water stream providing them with all sorts of fish. Unfortunately later conditions of rising sea levels etc., made Hullbridge unsuitable for the preservation of bone and shell and these new conditions would most probably caused any permanent settlement to be abandoned and for it to be used as a temporary site as inhabitants became more mobile in accordance with the seasonal and geographical changes that were taking place.
By combining the geometry of the old land surface with geological survey cores and auguring the survey was able to ascertain that the original river bed ran straighter than current and is just North of site 4 making site 4 South of the original river. At the Mesolithic level the TAEC survey found traces of freshwater organisms and traces of woodland along with 374 worked flints, a product not indigenous to the area.

Map showing todays coastline of Essex and the calculated coastline around the Mesolithic This image is used with the permission of Essex County Council and still remains under their copyright it shows the gradual erosion of the Essex coastline into the English Channel / North Sea.

Neolithic Age 4000 - 2000 BC-

Hullbridge Flint Factory

Neolithic Britain is the age when the residents buried their dead in mounds also known as "Tumulus" and "Barrows" and later created "Causewayed Settlements". Camps built on a hilltop which contained a central ritual area which was surrounded by several concentric, or spiral, rings of banks and ditches. The means of crossing the ditches, or defences, were by several causeways ( raised roadways ) hence the name of 'Causewayed Camps'! Although no proof of either of these exist around Hullbridge it does not take much imagination to see Rayleigh Mount as a causewayed camp before the Normans built on it. During the Neolithic period the social and cultural environment moved on to domesticating animals, planting crops and making use of Neolithic stone tools. Moving from food-collecting cultures to food-producing ones.

Around 1900 Mr William Henry Rand of Rayleigh found some remains near Fenn Creek whilst out fishing. His finds generated interest for a more detailed survey. Further findings were made by F.N.Haward and A.Wright, all three sets of findings are currently held at Prittlewell Priory Museum, Southend.
A proper field study was conducted by the Morant Club who presented its findings 17th Dec 1910 to the Essex Field Club.

Southend Standard Jan 1911

"THE FLINT INDUSTRY OF HULLBRIDGE" Members of the Southend and District Antiquarian and Historical Society held their annual meeting on Friday, at the Municipal School of Arts and Crafts, Southend.....There followed an interesting lecture by Mr. S. Hazzeldine Warren, of Loughton , who spoke on "the flint industry of the Hullbridge Peat", and illustrated his remarks with many fine lantern slides. He stated that flint implements found on the surface soil were by no means uniformly of the Neolithic period. Some held that the great majority of such objects dated from early in the cave age; but this he, himself thought doubtful, largely for geological reasons. The winter frosts of the times of super erosion deeply penetrated the sub-soil, which with the contemporary flint implements, was swept to sea. He believed that many so called Neolithic implements belonged in fact to the Bronze and Iron Ages. The credit for the first discovery of the Hullbridge site lay with Mr. H Rand, formerly of Rayleigh, whose original collection formed the basis of the series now preserved in the museum at Southend; considerable additions, however, were made by Mr. F. N. Haward.
Further, the speaker referred to the formerly existing Morant Club, who visited the Hullbridge site in 1910, papers relating to which were subsequently published by Mr. F. W. Reader and himself. Much more material had subsequently come to hand. At Hullbridge, the stratum of submerged peat was exposed at low tide in the bed of the Crouch. This peat, being harder than the clays above and below, stood out cornice-like on the slope of the river bed. It was, however, being gradually swept away by the ceaseless action of tides, the indestructable flint implements contained in it being left behind. These had been found to include axes of several kinds; a Thames pick; a barbed and stemmed arrow-point with serated edges, in fine condition and others more or less damaged; unbarbed arrow points and heads; chisel-ended flakes; comb scrapers and scrapers of other kinds; several burins; cores, core-scrappers, discs, flakes etc./,
Passing to the question of date the lecturer remarked that allowance must be made for differences in handicraft due to local conditions of life. The flint worker of the mining site, the potter of the village, the fisherman of the shore, the hunter of the moorland and pthers that could not each and all use the same group of implements. Men did not find the same group of implements in those diverse situations; the difference was one of handicraft, not of date. He was convinced that the microlithic industry, so well represented at Hullbridge, had been employed by some special industry through many periods. In the majority of cases this industry was found by itself, in isolated situations, such as sand dunes, and the relative evidence of date spoke qyuite as often of the Neolithic or Bronze Ages as any other earlier period . Thanks to the lecturer were voiced by Mr. W. A. Carter F.S.A., who expressed his opinion that the flint industry of Hullbridge might have supplied implements to the continent; and by the Chairman, who remarked that the industry in question formed the starting point of the history of the local countryside.

The report was written by the eminent Essex pre-historian Mr S Hazzeldine Warren and F.W.Reader can be read here ( Hazzeldine Warren, Morant Report link)


The collection of the flints the survey found by Hazzeldine Warren and Reader can be found at Southend Museum, Southend-on-Sea.

Around 1970 Steven W. Vincent and William H. George conducted another survey and privately published their findings in 1980 "Some Mesolithic Sites along the rivers Blackwater and Crouch in Essex".
This survey aroused considerable interest in the Essex County Council Archaeological department and the departments officers John Hedges and David Buckley found the necessary funding to undertake a more detailed survey of the Hullbridge and Blackwater area. As a result T.J.Wilkinson , P.Murphy and K Mason published various interim reports during the 1980's culminating in 1995 with Messrs Wilkinson and Murphy publishing.

"The Archaeology of the Essex Coast, Volume 1 (TAEC): The Hullbridge Survey.

ISBN 1 85281 119 6. Please click on image
     							for an enlarged version.

The TAEC survey although named "Hullbridge", did in fact cover a wider area as shown by the following map which is used with the permission of Essex County Council and still remains under their copyright. Please click on image for an enlarged version of Surveyed area of Essex Coast. For Hullbridge this survey had three main sites the most significant (Crouch site 4) was at Fenn Creek whilst sites 16 and 37,38,39 where just beyond Brandy Hole.
Map of the Essex coastline showing the important principle sites
Gary Congram recalled in his memories "I was a Scout around 1968 Alec Baker and Bill Trower took the troop to the Saltern approx., site 38 of the TAEC survey and it was clearly visible. Unfortunately it is re-silted over today."

The TAEC survey found very little traces of Neolithic settlement at Hullbridge and as a result the team believed the sites at this time were submerged. However, Linda Griffiths records from a presentation in c1983 by the Rochford Hundred History Societies history of Hullbridge "People settled at Hullbridge around 4000 years ago and are known as "The Beaker" people"..

Bronze and Iron Age

Beaker People

The Beaker people evidently landed at various times and places on the south and east coasts, whence they spread over most of the country, penetrating, and probably dominating, the Neolithic societies. Beaker people ranged extraordinarily widely over the Continent, but those who reached Britain seem to have come mainly from northwest Europe as identified by comparisons of burial remains. The Beaker folk were farmers and archers, wearing stone wrist guards to protect their arms from the sting of the bowstring. They were also the first metal smiths in Britain, working first in copper and gold, and later in the bronze which has given its name to this era.
They were the first people in Britain to use single graves to bury their dead.
There was a changeover during this period to round houses, echoed in the mushroom-like growth of stone circles and round barrow mounds. They made their own pottery, and eventually the first woven garments in Britain .They also seem to have introduced the first known alcoholic drink into Britain, a form of honey-based mead. The islands have never been the same since.
The Beaker Folk introduced a pastoral pattern to the agricultural lifestyle of Neolithic times.

History of the Countryside by Oliver Rackham page 262-3 believes that during the Iron Age there would have been strong administration by chiefs or the like. This is because of the semi-regular roads and field grids found in the Dengie and Rochford areas which align across the River Crouch and can be seen in earlier ordinance Survey maps of these areas.

In 1977 two skulls were found resting on a wooden platform by a student from the local Field Studies Centre.
The place these were found became Site 1 of the TAEC survey. These skulls were sent to the Natural History Museum, London and were dated by them to be Bronze age. The date was further verified by the survey when the investigated platform was found to be Bronze age.

Salt Makiing.

In the publication mentioned above "Archaeology of the Essex Coast Volume 1 it states that at Site 2 (Fenn Creek) the survey re-found the Salt workings first reported by Vincent and George and excavated the hearth. Photo shows a close 
								up of a muddy foreshore that has been dug away to reveal a round hearth like structure in which earthen ware pots were heated.
In and around the hearth they found Briquetage, this the name for a coarse ceramic material used to make evaporation vessels and supporting pillars used in extracting salt from seawater.
Click here for Hyperlink to Wikipedia description of Bronze Age salt making.

Salt was a very important commodity before money was introduced and following the influx of Beaker people sailing to Britian from Europe it does not take much imagination to see that trade between the East Coast and Europe took place, especially after the finding of iron a much stronger metal than bronze.

To read about salt making and the resulting red hills click here Essex Family History

Much is written about the Red Hills of the northern Essex coast and it is acknowledged that the TAEC survey does not enhance the substantial knowledge already documented, and that hills would have existed in the area but are most likely developed upon.

Hullbridge's importance as an archaeological sight continues to grow stronger with National Heritage taking particular interest Click here to view English Heritage page on Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment and Beyond - research and management of the Essex Coast amidst many interested organizations making field trips to the shoreline of the village is the Essex Rock and Mineral Society trip (5th Oct 2003) Click here for hyperlink to Essex Rock and Mineral Society Field trip report

Iron Age 600BC -50AD

With the trade between Europe and Britain expanding it did not take long for the Celts of Europe to travel across the water and take up residence.


States the following:- What we do know is that the people we call Celts gradually infiltrated Britain over the course of the centuries between about 500 and 100 B.C. There was probably never an organized Celtic invasion; for one thing the Celts were so fragmented and given to fighting among themselves that the idea of a concerted invasion would have been ludicrous.
The Celts were a group of peoples loosely tied by similar language, religion, and cultural expression. They were not centrally governed, and quite as happy to fight each other as any non-Celt. They were warriors, living for the glories of battle and plunder. They were also the people who brought iron working to the British Isles.



The group of Celts who occupied Hullbridge were know as the TRINOVANTES the website HISTORYFILES.Co.UKstates the following:-This Iron Age Celtic tribe held sway over the northern Thames Estuary, from the area around pre-Roman London to the east coast of modern England and northwards into lower Suffolk. The Trinovantes (or Trinobates) were probably divided from their Iceni neighbours to the north by the heavily wooded country that was known to form a border between later Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. To the west lay the hated but powerful Catuvellauni, to the far south-west were the Atrebates, and to the south, across the Thames, were the Cantii. Like their neighbours in the south-east, they were probably a Belgic tribe from the North Sea or Baltics, part of the third wave of Celtic settlers in Britain. Their style of burial certainly supports this supposition.

The capital of the Trinovantes tribe was Colchester until 9AD when the Catuvellauni captured it after fierce fighting.

Strongholds or hillforts were built on ridges of locally high ground. Many of the forts were built over the top of Causewayed Camps There is a string of these structures along the Lee, Stort and Cam valleys. However, some of the best excavated examples are two forts in east Essex, namely Asheldham Camp and Shoebury Camp. At these coastal sites the ramparts were built in the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age and there was a major phase of occupation in the Middle Iron Age.

Roman Age c55BC -410AD

Around 55BC Rome through Julius Cesear's forces (2 legions VII and X equal to approx 10,000 men and cavalry etc.,) invaded Britain but did not get very far. A more detailed account can be read's_invasions_of_Britain. A second more successful invasion occured 1 year later and it was at this time that the Trinovantes tribe saw the Romans as a saviour and an opportunity to strike back at the Catuvellauni and they were quick to join with Caesar.
Ceasar's stay was not for long and he returned to Gaul having put in place the necessary governance by Locals. In Essex .

In 43AD Claudius undertook a more permanent invasion of Britain and drove the opposing Brits back to Colchester the principal town of the Catuvellauni chief Caratacus. The Brit forces were routed and Caratacus escaped. From that point on the importance of Colchester grew. The Romans realised the strategic importance of Colchester and in 49 AD the Romans made it a colonia, a town inhabited by military veterans. The colonia grew and became a Roman city of the highest rank. The Trinovantes enjoyed the fruits of cooperation with the Romans until the loss of tribal territory to Roman settlers caused the Trinovantes to join with the Iceni revolt under Boudicca (Boadicea) in 61AD, and the colonia of Colchester was burned to the ground.

The Trinovantes and Iceni vanished from history after the failure of the Boudiccan revolt mainly through mas slaughter after the battle of Watling Street, Kent.

The residents of Hullbridge and the surrounding area must have been impacted as they were Trinovantes, but I have not found any mention of the area in records of that era.

Nothing Roman is listed in the TEAC survey for the three main sites of Hullbridge (Nos. 4, 8 and 9). The nearest River Crouch findings are at the mouth of the river and near Fambridge. The survey makes reference to the possible existence of two bridges connected by a small island at Fambridge and that the structure is similar to that seen with the revetments at Hullbridge. Having said this there with more people taking up metal detecting as a hobby, more Roman and other historical finds are being found every year

Roman Bridge

Local folklore has it that the first bridge built at Hullbridge was pre-Roman. What type of bridge this was is unknown, but again believed to be wooden and later made of stone (See Medieval).

No known Roman road came through Hullbridge, the Ordnance Survey map of Roman Essex showing the
									roads connecting Colchester and London and where Hullbridge is in relation to them. major road was between Camulodunum (Colchester) and Londinium (London) which passed through Cesaromanearest (Chelmsford).
Maldon / Heybridge was not of significant size to warrant a major road.

The matter that there was a Roman bridge is debatable:-

  1. Why would the Romans build a bridge across a river at a point that was fordable twice a day?
  2. Because of the type and volume of traffic making the crossing.
  3. If there was a large volume of traffic why is there no major Roman road documented ?
  4. The volume was not that large and it is accepted that not all Roman roads still remain or are identified.
  5. What would have created the volume of traffic ?
  6. There was a Roman signal tower at Hadleigh and there was salt making industry all along the River Crouch and Roach.
  7. There are no large settlement ruins, buildings in Rochford which would indicate a need for transport ?
  8. There have been finds in Rochford, enough to indicate settlements but not of any significant size.
  9. If there was a bridge at Hullbridge where would the North and South roads go to ?
  10. To the North there was a Roman settlement at Maldon / Heybridge which is also renowned for its salt making, common with Hullbridge. However a straight road, a Roman road trademark, runs from Maldon to Fambridge, which is also reputed to have had a bridge and close to salt making sites. The 1777 John Chapman and Peter Andre map shows a Southerly straight road through Hullbridge, High Elms, Hanover and into Rayleigh and it is a straight line from Hullbridge to Hadleigh Castle.

Acknowledgement is made to the following contributions that this history was compiled from:-