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Widford Barrow Hill

In the civil parish of Widford.
In the historic county of Hertfordshire.
Modern Authority of Hertfordshire.
1974 county of Hertfordshire.
Medieval County of Hertfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL41701683
Latitude 51.83220° Longitude 0.05516°

Widford Barrow Hill has been described as a probable Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Despite partial excavation and disturbance caused by animal burrowing, Barrow Hill motte is well preserved and will retain archaeological information showing the construction sequence and other details of the duration of the monument's use. Additionally, environmental evidence will survive relating to the landscape in which the monument was constructed.
The monument includes a motte castle situated near the crest of a south-east facing slope overlooking the River Ash. It includes a large conical mound which measures 43m in diameter at the base and c.6.6m in height. The mound has a flat top which measures 14.3m north-south by 5.5m east-west. Also identifiable at ground level is a 3m wide ditch from which material was quarried during the construction of the mound and which formed a deep defensive ditch which may have been waterfilled. This has been infilled over the years but survives to a maximum depth of c.0.3m. The mound was once thought to be a barrow but this is now disputed. (Scheduling Report)

Mound; diameter approx. 43m, height approx. 6.6m; there is also evidence for a possible ditch. Considered to be a Roman barrow, until Hemp suggested it was a motte. OS agree that this is a probable motte. Apparently undisturbed. The mound has a flat top, 14.3m by 5.5m. (Hertfordshire HER)

Two barrows at Barrow Farm, NW of the railway and c 250 yards from the River Ash. The larger (Barrow Hill) is covered with brushwood, measures 100 ft in diameter and 35 ft in height, and a fairly level top measuring 47 ft N-S by 18 ft E-W. The smaller one is 50 yards south of the larger (and therefore at ca TL 417167) and is 30 ft in diameter and 7ft high. Cussons classifies them as Roman barrows and records that the smaller was excavated by Richard Braybrooke in 1851, when 'a few objects, but none of great archaeological interest, were discovered'; these have since been lost (Squires).
The two barrows listed under 'Presumed Roman barrows' (Dunning and Jessup).
Barrow Hill considered to be the mound of a Motte and bailey castle (Hemp).
Barrow Hill - name verified. An artificial earthen mound situated near the crest of a SE-facing slope. The mound is tree and scrub covered and surrounded by an area under crop.
Measuring c 43.0 m in overall diameter and c 6.6m high, it has a gentle sloping top, there being no evidence of flattening. There is no apparent mutilation apart from natural land slip on the steep sides. A very slight depression possibly indicating a ditch c 12-0m wide surrounds the mound except for the E side, but there is no trace of a berm.
There is no trace of the second, smaller mound in an area under crop. A Mr E Garritt who once farmed this land, stated this mound was levelled c 1950, at which time it measured c 8.0m in overall diameter and c 2.0m high. He was only able to indicate the siting as area TL 416167.
The appearance and location of the larger mound suggest it is not a barrow, and although there is no trace of outworks having existed, it is probably a motte.
No certain classification can be made for the second smaller mound (F1 JRL 24-MAY-73).
Medieval pottery found during fieldwalking confirms a Medieval date for this site (Richards). (PastScape)

Mound (35 feet high) on rising ground north of the church and river. A bank 50 yards to the south was formerly regarded as a second tumulus. Cussans says that the 1851 excavation finds were Roman. (Renn 1971)

In 1971 Renn was doubtful about this mound as a motte. The position is not typical for a motte and the lack of a bailey should always cause some degree of suspicion. Gatehouse is not entirely convinced that finds of medieval pottery on fieldwalking does confirm a medieval date for the site (it merely confirms a medieval presence in the area). There are reports of a battle between Saxon and Danes in the area in the late C9.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:31

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