Ravensburgh Castle, Barton le Clay. - Friends of Putnoe Wood and Mowsbury Hillfort

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Ravensburgh Castle, Barton le Clay.

Mowsbury Hillfort > Beds Hillforts
RAVENSBURGH CASTLE (Hill Fort) lies on a spur of the Barton Hills, 1 mile S.W. of Hexton, and occupies the W. half of a plateau surrounded by deep coombes on every side but the N.W. The height is from 460 to 500 feet above O.D.
This fine example of a hill fort compares favourably with many of those to be found in counties notable for their earthworks, such as Sussex or Dorset.
The workings consists of a large, nearly oval enclosure, which covers 16ΒΌ acres, and with its defences, 22 acres, the major axis lying N. and S. It is protected on the E. side by a single rampart, about 18 ft. above the external ground, the ditch and counterscarp bank having been nearly levelled; width of the ditch, from crest to crest, 55 :ft. On the S. side is a single rampart, with ditch and counterscarp bank, beyond which the steep hillside forms a natural glacis. Height of inner rampart, from 16 :ft. to 18 ft., and of counterscarp, from 3 ft. to 7 ft. above the ditch; width of ditch, from crest to crest, 40-60 ft. The defences of the W. side are made stronger by a second outer rampart and ditch, with the steep hillside as a glacis. Height of inner rampart above inner ditch, 18 ft., and above outer ditch, 25 ft.; height of middle rampart above outer ditch, 9 ft. Width of inner ditch, from crest to crest, 46 ft.; of outer ditch, 22 ft. The N. side has an inner rampart, beyond which are two sloping platforms and two slight banks, with a small outer ditch and hank, and steep glacis to the valley. Height of inner rampart above outer ditch, 22 ft.; width of defences, from crest to crest, 80 ft.; width of platforms, 16 ft. to 20 ft.
Entrances - The main entrance, which is about 90 ft. wide, is at the N.W. angle, where a neck of land joins the plateau to the body of the hill. There is a second entrance at the S.E. angle, 40 ft. wide, and also slightly flanked. There are no inner or subsidiary enclosures.
Dimensions - Greatest length, S. to N., 1,435 ft.; width, W. to E., 695 ft.
Limited excavations during the 1960s showed that it was built about 400 BC and refortified around 50 BC. Rectangular in shape, and enclosing 9 hectares, it is strongly defended by a double rampart and ditch on the north, west and south sides, with a more massive rampart on the vulnerable eastern flank. Of its two entrances, that at the north-west corner belongs to the original build, whilst the south-eastern entrance was added around 50 BC. A gap halfway along the eastern side is modern. It has been suggested that Ravensburgh might have been the headquarters of the Celtic chieftain, Cassivelaunus, attacked in 54 BC. The excavations showed signs of burning on the eastern rampart.
Access to the site is strictly limited.
Finds of pottery and a bird-headed weaving comb are in the Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton.


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