Archaeology of Epsom
Although the Ordnance Survey Archaeological index includes 23 cards for Epsom there is no positive evidence of early settlement sites. The most interesting find was in Epsom Cemetery in 1944, in grave number 173, a possible ritual pit of Neolithic or Early Bronze Age (c.1500 BC) date containing a red deer antler, skeleton of a calf with pieces of charcoal near the forelegs. Mollusca were present in considerable quantity, a species ‘alien to a downland zone, with a parallel series at Brighton (SAC 49 (1946) p93-4).
An Acheulian hand axe, three Neolithic scrapers and flakes found at Woodcote (TQ205590) and a leaf-shaped arrowhead from Woodcote Park (TQ204588) are in Kingston Museum, whilst a Neolithic flake and scraper found in 1884 are in London Museum. Twelve Neolithic flakes were found on Epsom Downs at TQ220582.
An Early Bronze Age (c.1000 BC) crouched inhumation burial was excavated at Epsom College in 1938 (TQ22205992, SAC 47), eleven Bronze Age barrows were shown on a 17th century estate map at TQ230592, near Buckles Gap and Rosebushes (SAC 42). A bronze palstave was found near Epsom, site unknown.
Iron Age (c. 350 BC–AD 43) sherds were found on Epsom racecourse at TQ221582 and an Iron Age gold coin 400 yards NE of Christ Church (TQ197611, SAC 44). A detailed discussion of an Iron Age site near Longdown Lane South is given in the Antiquaries Journal. A shallow pit contained fragments of ox, sheep, dog and hare bones, saddle-quern, iron nail and a number of pottery fragments dated to the first century BC.
Earthworks (undated) are recorded at TQ222589 and a dene-hole, a chalk working shaft possibly Romano-British, was found below St. Martins Church. The main shaft was 16 feet deep with chambers running each way from the bottom for about 12 feet; charcoal and a few sherds of pottery were found and were kept in the vestry for a number of years but have now disappeared (TQ21406953). On the adjoining Pitt Place site an NAS excavation located Stane Street with some associated Romano- British sherds.
Three Roman cinerary urns (1st century AD) were found in 1923 at Half Mile Bush (TQ 213617) with a few brass coins. These were deposited in the British Museum subject to return on the formation of a local museum, but so far the BM will not release them (SAC 34). Toland, writing in 1711, refers to Roman remains at Epsom Court Farm (TQ205615) and a 1st/2nd century tile kiln was excavated in 1927 at West Park Asylum, Green Man Farm, Horton (SAC 45). Roman coins have been found at various spots around Epsom as chance surface finds.
The earliest known permanent settlement occurs in Saxon times when ‘20 mansas of land’ were claimed by Chertsey Abbey in a forged document dated 727 AD, confirmed by King Edgar in 967. The Abbey also owned the manors of Horton and Brettgrave as part of their manor of Epsom. about six Saxon interments were found on allotments at TQ21636077, but no associated objects. The date has been estimated at either 6th or 10/11th centuries (SAC 51). Further burials (late Roman or early Saxon) were found at 7 Copse Edge Avenue in 1934. The original name for Epsom was Ebbisham, and the traditional site of ‘Ebba’s Ham’ is given by Toland as Epsom Court, later Epsom Court Farm, and now the site of Pound Lane School.