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Etonbury, Arlesey

In the civil parish of Arlesey.
In the historic county of Bedfordshire.
Modern Authority of Bedfordshire.
1974 county of Bedfordshire.
Medieval County of Bedfordshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: TL19273797
Latitude 52.02840° Longitude -0.26259°

Etonbury, Arlesey has been described as a probable Timber Castle, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.


Ringwork and bailey(s) defaced by railway. Record in PastScape as "Supposed Danish earthwork/dock ? Homestead moat/manorial site." but listed as medieval ringwork. King writes - Ringwork with one, or two, baileys and burgus defence; he notes that this earthwork is often ascribed to the Danes.

A probable Danish "harbour" site lies on the River Hiz, but is so mutilated by the construction of the railway and road that its layout is uncertain. (Dyer)

A "rectangular harbour area" measuring 250 ft N-S by 150 ft E-W is apparent, with a smaller enclosure 140 ft by 50 ft leading off from its SW corner. The harbour is fed by a stream running into it from the E, but the location of the original entrance into the river is uncertain. To the N of the harbour are two massive curved banks with external ditches enclosing a fortified area. This may originally have been D-shaped, the straight side abutting the harbour, but it is largely overlaid by the railway. A rough sketch by Lysons (circa 1800) shows an entrance linking the enclosure with the harbour area, but this is no longer visible. It seems certain that it was later used for manorial purposes particularly on the E side (not shown on Dyers' plan). Etonbury, an earthwork of uncertain origin generally as depicted on the plans by Wadmore and Dyer, but since mutilated in the south by a fly-over over the railway, by a sewage trench cut through the centre from N to S in 1972, and by ploughing to the E of Pix Brook. The situation is on the W end of a ridge fading into the drained flood-plain of the River Hiz. (PastScape-field Investigators comments)


Almost certainly manorial earthworks. Earthworks were clearly too large and complex to just be a homestead moat, although a smaller, later, manorial site within the earthworks is possible. Now heavily damaged. Lowerre and Petre dismiss this as a castle site because of the similarity in form and supposed history with Willington Danish Docks a site which has been excavated and found not to be Danish but C12-C13. However, Etonbury has not been excavated and there remains a possibility of earlier origins, including being a ringwork castle.
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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