Thurleigh Bury Hills

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte)

There are earthwork remains

NameThurleigh Bury Hills
Alternative NamesThornleigh; Bury Hill Camp
Historic CountryBedfordshire
Modern AuthorityBedfordshire
1974 AuthorityBedfordshire
Civil ParishThurleigh

Bury Hill is a moated, conical mound, with its summit in two levels, the higher having a small circular hold with low banked edge. There is no other bank on the mound, which rises some 23 feet above the bottom of the ditch on the east, where the work is best preserved. The ditch is 8-10 feet in depth on the east, north and west, where there are fine remains of a great bank on the outer edge of the scarp. To the south these features are almost worked out and in recent years the mound itself has been dug for levelling, though this has now been stopped; many skeletons were found in the side of the mound, but no signs of masonry. Farm buildings have obscured much detail, but the outer enceinte, well defined by bank and ditch, remains almost entire, enclosing an area including practically the whole of the old village. Strong earthworks at the north east angle suggest a well-guarded entrance. The ponds at the bottom of the valley were used for water storage: Westminster Pond, scooped out of the hillside to a depth of 12 feet on its steeply cut north bank, being supplied from the slightly higher Black Pond. (PastScape–ref. Goddard, 1904)

The south east slopes of the motte have been reduced by digging, and the southern area of the now dry ditch has been destroyed by farm detail. There are counterscarp remains on the north side of the ditch. No indications of a bailey(s) enclosure is visible. The linear bank and ditch shown by Goddard (plan) to the east and south east has been largely obliterated and overlaid by modern detail, but the course of the ditch depression is still visible. In area TL 05345840, where best preserved, the work does not form an independent surveyable feature, and consists of a ditch about 5.0m wide and about 1.2m deep. The purpose and age of the work is uncertain, but together with Westminster and Black Ponds (ref. Goddard's plan) it forms an enclosed area which possibly represents an original boundary of the village. (PastScape–ref

field investigators comments, 1974)

A small area of earthworks at the north-eastern corner of the outer bailey was examined in advance of housing development. A possible entrance across the outer bailey bank and ditch was shown to be post-Medieval in date. No evidence of stone or timber fortification was seen on the castle earthworks, which contained quantities of Romano-British pottery. Two areas sealed by the castle earthworks were examined. Roman features were cut into the old ground surface, together with gullies, pits and post-holes containing coarse local pottery showing both Saxon and Iron Age characteristics. (PastScape–ref. Baker and Simco, 1977)

Gatehouse Comments

Possibly the castle of Thornleigh mentioned by Harvey.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL052584
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