Ravensburgh Castle, Hexton


Plan of Ravensburgh Castle, Hexton, Herts

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.

Detailed Description - The work consists of a large, nearly oval enclosure, which covers 16 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.

Condition - Good, but the trees recently planted may do considerable damage in the future.

Historical Monuments in Hertfordshire. 1911

Photograph, Ravensbirgh Castle, Hexton, Herts  

Ravensburgh Castle is now heavily wooded and is on private land. The above picture, from Geograph and published by  Martin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence, shows the wood that is hiding it. It is said to be the biggest Iron Age hill fort in S.E. England.

The western banks define the Hertfordshire County boundary.


Ravensburgh Castle - An Ancient Earthwork (pdf)

by Chas. H. Cooke,

Hertfordshire Countryside, Summer 1953

A detailed article with extracts from a variety of sources.

References to the history and archaeology of Ravensburgh Castle are given on the Wikipedia Page for Hexton.

November 2011   Page Created
November 2017   Link to Hertfordshire Countryside article added