At Mowsbury Hill, situated above the driving range at Mowsbury Golf Club, near Ravensden, Bedford stand the remains of the Iron Age univallate Mowsbury Hillfort.
The site was also inhabited in the medieval period and the remains of a medieval enclosure of 110 x 80 m diameter are also visible.
Mowsbury is one of ten univallate hillforts in Bedfordshire. That is a single line of defences, one bank and ditch. The rampart was supported with a timber pallisade. It was made of wood and clay and is thought to have been destroyed by a fire so hot as to bake the clay. The site has not been excavated except for some archaeological trenching in 1972 that confirmed the presence of a single ditch. Traces of what might have been hut circles have been found in the form of remains of cobble circles. Pottery fragments show that the site was occupied into the Roman period.
In the medieval period a rectangular moated site was developed. A wooden bridge allowed people to cross from an outer to an inner ‘island’. Part of the moat may have reused the Iron Age ditch and part was used as fishponds for raising fish for food. The moat was filled with water from a ‘leat stream’ an aqueduct dug into the ground.
Part of the site is both a Country Wildlife Site and a Local Nature Reserve because it contains UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitats neutral lowland grassland, traditional orchards and lowland broadleaf woodland and Priority Species small heath butterfly and viviparous lizard.
The Courtyard meadow has many wild flowers including bee orchids.
Putnoe Wood has a long history and was once part of a much larger wooded landscape. The area was first recorded in the Domesday Book in 1086 as Salf End and Buckelowe. Before this date there is evidence of Saxon settlement.
In 1224 much damage was done to the wood during the siege of Bedford Castle when Henry III used it as a convenient source of timber.
The woods are home to many species of birds and other wildlife and flora including snowdrops and bluebells.