Driving from Gatwick Airport into central London via the Dartford Tunnel, travellers will see two very odd structures at the Dagenham Roundabout. They are known locally as the "Witches' Hats". Some have described them as works of art meant to enrich the lives of those passing by, but these descriptions are fanciful, unsupported, and almost certainly apocryphal. Public artworks in London are commissioned by a local authority have a documented trail along with descriptive signage at their sites.

To my knowledge there are no other structures like this in the London area. And the Dagenham Roundabout does not have any claim to cultural heritage or historical significance that would offer grounds for situating a monument.

Those with access to Google Maps can see a high resolution image of the 'hat' here https://www.google.com.sa/maps/@51.5308332,0.1401711,3a,75y,220.02h,83.82t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sRnGuSwNa85elWZIKHgNyQg!2e0?hl=en

Note that there are no signs, no doors to the structures, or other indications of purpose.

For those without access to Google Maps, here's a static image...

enter image description here

Beyond some fanciful claim to random artwork situated at an implausible location, what are the 'Witch's Hats'?

  • 6
    Following the answer given by 'pnuts' below, I was able to determine that this monstrosity actually IS artwork commissioned by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 19:15
  • 4
    Lots of roundabouts in the UK have random pieces of public art in them, of varying quality and taste. It’s a common way of making interesting use of what would otherwise be dead space. So it’s hardly an implausible location, and the artwork answer shouldn’t be a surprise at all.
    – PLL
    Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 9:30
  • 1
    The A13 in that area has a number of public artworks, for example Holding Pattern at Lodge Lane. Commented Dec 2, 2014 at 13:36
  • @GayotFow it's appropriate that in Britain "Barking" is synonymous with "Stark Raving Mad". Commented Feb 14, 2022 at 18:36

2 Answers 2


From diamond geezer's blogspot:

At the Goresbrook interchange, the most iconic of Artscape's installations. The two exit roundabouts each rise to a sharp elevated point, curved and conical, created from a skin of black tarmac. Officially they're named Scylla and Charybdis, but their shape has earned the nickname Madonna's Bra, or (sssh) Madonna's Tits. Whichever, the council has unintentionally given local youth a fantastic pair of sheer slopes on which to muck about. This weekend a hatch in the northern roundabout was wide open photo, allowing me to peer inside down a short flight of steps. Inside was a pile of traffic cones and what looked like a pot of black paint, recently used to paint over scrawled graffiti. Every witch's hat hides a secret. [map] [photo]

  • 2
    Following your links, I found this: The theme reflects the 'epic' journeys of the commuters passing over the viaduct above as the road below rises out of the ground below to meet them on their journey. Thomas' design assimilates the existing roundabouts; fabricated from sprayed concrete on a steel mesh attached to steel cables running from the central axis to the existing circumference.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 18:49
  • Following links of the links you gave, more here publicartonline.org.uk/resources/reports/repregeneration/…
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Dec 1, 2014 at 19:29

Going out on a limb here I would say that it represents a play-on-words. Placing a Witches' Hat on a roundabout recalls the homonym carousel game. A witches' hat roundabout, is according to Wikipedia:

A cone shaped playground roundabout that is mounted in such a way that the axis of rotation is free to tilt.

In the old days, these roundabouts looked more or less like this (courtesy of Daily Mail and Getty Images): enter image description here

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