Mowsbury Hill - Friends of Putnoe Wood and Mowsbury Hillfort

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Mowsbury Hill

Mowsbury Hillfort > Legacy Record
Although the slight univallate hillfort at Mowsbury Hill has been somewhat disturbed by medieval and modern activity, it remains one of the most interesting examples of its kind in the region. The perimeter defences (partly incorporated into the later medieval settlement) remain visible on the ground, and sample excavation has demonstrated the existence of well preserved deposits within the buried ditch and, most significantly, the rare survival of evidence for the timber construction of the rampart. The fort's interior will contain further buried remains, providing insights into the function of the hillfort and, as within the bank and ditch, containing dateable material illustrating period of construction and the duration of occupation. The medieval moated site within the ramparts of hillfort is one of around 6,000 sites of this general type known in England. The wide ditches which characterise this class of monument were often water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more islands which contained domestic or religious buildings. The majority of moated sites served as prestigious aristocratic or seigneurial residences, with the moat acting as a status symbol rather than a means of military defence. Moated sites reached a peak of popularity between the mid 13th and 14th centuries with the greatest concentration of numbers in the central and eastern parts of England. They exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes, and are particulary important for the understanding of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. The moated site at Mowsbury Hill is an extremely well preserved example of this class of monument. Its largely undisturbed interior will retain buried evidence for the structures and other feature related to the period of occupation. The ditches will also contain valuable artefactual evidence especially as the waterlogged silts provide conditions suitable for the preservation of organic objects. The fishponds are a characteristic feature of this class of the medieval settlement, used to maintain a sustainable food supply. They are a significant component of the site, providing an indication of both the diet and social standing of its inhabitants. The silts within the ponds and the buried connected channels will contain further artefacts, and (as with the main ditches) retain environmental evidence illustrating the appearance of the surrounding landscape during the period of occupation.

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