What we know and what has been found out about Ravensburgh Hill Fort is shown previously but there are many myths, legend and inferences about Ravensburgh.
Limited excavations during the 1960s showed that it was built about 400 BC (See J.Dyer in D.W.Harding Hillforts: Later Prehistoric Earthworks (Academic Press) 1976, p. 153ff. and refortified around 50 BC (see Dyer, ditto). Rectangular in shape, and enclosing nine hectares, it is strongly defended by a double rampart and ditch on the north, west and south sides, with a more massive rampart on the vulnerable eastern flank. Of its two entrances, that at the northwest corner belongs to the original build, whilst the southeastern entrance was added around 50 BC. A gap halfway along the eastern side is modern.
It’s in no doubt that it was an Iron Age Fort but was it also:
- A Celtic Stronghold
- A site of a Roman settlement
- A Viking Outpost
- a Saxon Fort on the edge of Danish held lands of the 9th Century.
It has been suggested that Ravensburgh might have been the headquarters of the Celtic chieftain Cassivelaunus, attacked in 54 BC. The excavations showed signs of burning on the eastern rampart. so the dates fit for a Heroic Celtic last stand against the Romans. (from wikipedia)
Local legend tell of battles between Saxons and Vikings in this area with the then Luton Saxons routing the Vikings at or near this site. The local history book by W Austins ‘The History of Luton and its Hamlets’ has Hexton at the frontier of the Danelaw and recounts the victory for the Lutonians behind Warden Hills, Warden Hills is only a short walk from here. Also recorded is that locals believed that the Ravensburgh Hillfort was a Viking outpost which would again fit as the Vikings were known for adapting previous forts for their use. The Hocktide festival that took place in and around Hexton is though to have its roots in Viking tradition.
A nearby hill is also a hill Wayting Hill of legend that recounts the tale of a sleeping king or warrior that will rise in the fashion of King Arthur of Camelot legend. There is also a festival Hocktide that involved the men and woman of the village of Hexton in a challenge at the top of Wayting Hill (it is also though that the Hill is also a burial site, perhaps the site of the sleeping king, but again unfortunately this site is again on private land and will require permission to visit.
There is a book called the Ravens a great review of the book can be found here Review
This is a book written by an archaeologist mention above ‘J Dyer’ who studied and surveyed the Iron Age fort.
See more about the local area and legends on the Hexton Page.