Ancient Monuments

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Arbury Banks Iron Age hillfort

A Scheduled Monument in Ashwell, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0324 / 52°1'56"N

Longitude: -0.1626 / 0°9'45"W

OS Eastings: 526139.368928

OS Northings: 238700.941475

OS Grid: TL261387

Mapcode National: GBR J6D.FQT

Mapcode Global: VHGNG.45CT

Entry Name: Arbury Banks Iron Age hillfort

Scheduled Date: 10 August 1923

Last Amended: 21 July 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008981

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20759

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Ashwell

Built-Up Area: Ashwell

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Ashwell

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes an Iron Age hillfort situated on high ground near the
Newnham Way, 1km south west of Ashwell parish church. The monument measures
290m north east-south west by a maximum of 245m north west-south east. The
defences consisted of a ditch with an internal bank. The ditch, although no
longer visible as an earthwork survives as a buried feature and is visible on
aerial photographs and as a soilmark. It measures an average of 5m in width
and is infilled along its entire length. The internal bank survives only
intermittently and measures a maximum of 2.5m in width at its top and survives
to 1.2m in height at the south western end of the site. Two causeways give
access to the monument, one to the NNW measures 20m in width, the other to the
SSE is about 40m in width. The interior of the monument contains features
which are visible as cropmarks and on aerial photographs. These marks
represent rectangular, square and curvilinear enclosures, hut circles and pits
which survive as buried features.

An excavation of the defences by J Bedlam in the 1850's found that the
external ditch around the hillfort measures 6m in width and 4.5m in depth.
The fence is excluded from the scheduling though the ground beneath it is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Slight univallate hillforts are defined as enclosures of various shapes,
generally between 1ha and 10ha in size, situated on or close to hilltops and
defined by a single line of earthworks, the scale of which is relatively
small. They date to between the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age (eighth -
fifth centuries BC), the majority being used for 150 to 200 years prior to
their abandonment or reconstruction. Slight univallate hillforts have
generally been interpreted as stock enclosures, redistribution centres, places
of refuge and permanent settlements. The earthworks generally include a
rampart, narrow level berm, external ditch and counterscarp bank, while access
to the interior is usually provided by two entrances comprising either simple
gaps in the earthwork or an inturned rampart. Postholes revealed by excavation
indicate the occasional presence of portal gateways while more elaborate
features like overlapping ramparts and outworks are limited to only a few
examples. Internal features included timber or stone round houses; large
storage pits and hearths; scattered postholes, stakeholes and gullies; and
square or rectangular buildings supported by four to six posts, often
represented by postholes, and interpreted as raised granaries. Slight
univallate hillforts are rare with around 150 examples recorded nationally.
Although on a national scale the number is low, in Devon they comprise one of
the major classes of hillfort. In other areas where the distribution is
relatively dense, for example, Wessex, Sussex, the Cotswolds and the
Chilterns, hillforts belonging to a number of different classes occur within
the same region. Examples are also recorded in eastern England, the Welsh
Marches, central and southern England. In view of the rarity of slight
univallate hillforts and their importance in understanding the transition
between Bronze Age and Iron Age communities, all examples which survive
comparatively well and have potential for the recovery of further
archaeological remains are believed to be of national importance.

The site was subject to partial excavations during the 1850's which
established the scale and the good state of preservation of the outer
defensive ditch of the hillfort. Only a small portion of the site has been
excavated and substantial important deposits will survive undisturbed. The
ramparts and internal features will retain archaeological information relating
to its occupation and development as well as environmental information
relating to the economy of its inhabitants and the landscape in which they

Source: Historic England

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