Arbury Banks Iron Age hillfort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008981

Date first listed: 10-Aug-1923

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jul-1994


Ordnance survey map of Arbury Banks Iron Age hillfort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Jan-2019 at 14:14:08.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Ashwell

National Grid Reference: TL 26142 38699


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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 lived.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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 included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20759

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing