An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
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(OS 1:10000 a TL 08 NW, b TL 08 SW, c TL 08 SE)
The parish, covering 620 hectares, occupies a roughly L-shaped area of land, extending S.E. from the R. Nene between 75 ft. and 230 ft. above OD. The greater part of the parish lies on Boulder or Oxford Clays, and only near the river are there areas of lighter limestone soils. The clay soils might be interpreted as the reason for the absence of prehistoric and Roman sites, but the lack of intensive fieldwork by local archaeologists is a more likely explanation.
The former village of Lilford (3), removed during emparking in the 18th century, has left few traces, but at Wigsthorpe, perhaps originally a Danish daughtersettlement, evidence for shrinkage still exists (4).
Prehistoric or Roman
b(1) Enclosure (TL 033830), a little to the N. of the A605– B662 road junction, on Cornbrash, at 145 ft. above OD. Air photographs show the S.E. part of a rectangular enclosure with rounded corners and covering about 2 hectares. The N.W. part is obscured by a wood (CUAP, ZB11–13)
b(2) Roman settlement and burial (?) (unlocated but around TL 029837) 'not far from the Lynches, on the other side of the park, has been lately found Roman internments, pottery and coins in digging for stone' (Arch. J., XXXV (1878), 352).
For Roman Road 570, see p. 116.
Medieval and Later
b(3) Deserted village of Lilford (TL 030840?), probably lay S.E. of the present Lilford Hall, on limestone at 100 ft. above OD, although its traditional site is some distance away, to the S. of the Hall near a spring at TL 029836 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 227).
Records of its population always included the inhabitants of Wigsthorpe, a daughter-hamlet in the S.E. of the parish, and therefore no accurate estimate of the size of Lilford is possible. Both places were very small throughout the medieval period. By 1674 a total of 31 houses is listed in Lilford and Wigsthorpe, and by the early 18th century Lilford was a 'village of 12 houses' (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 241). In 1755 the entire village was demolished by Sir Thomas Powys, owner of Lilford Hall, as part of an emparking scheme, and the displaced inhabitants were housed in new dwellings at Wigsthorpe and elsewhere on the estate. The village church remained until 1788 when it was demolished. Three arches from an arcade were re-erected as a 'ruin' near the river S. of the park (K. J. Allison et al. The Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 15 and 42). No indications of the village exist at the traditional site, but the church certainly stood immediately S.E. of the Hall. Quantities of building-stone and some medieval pottery which have been found near the site of the church, probably indicate the location of the village.
b(4) Settlement remains (TL 046825), formerly part of the hamlet of Wigsthorpe, lie in the centre of the hamlet, on the S. side of the road. Some rectangular platforms and other more indeterminate earthworks indicate former houses. The site had already been abandoned by 1794 (map in NRO).
(5) Cultivation remains. The date of the enclosure of the common fields of Lilford and Wigsthorpe is unknown but it had certainly taken place by the late 18th century (NRO, maps of 1791 and 1794). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, over much of the parish. Some still survives in Lilford Park (TL 036844 and 036840) but it is more extensive around and S.E. of Wigsthorpe where large areas of interlocked furlongs, usually of reversed-S form, are traceable, (RAF VAP 541/602, 3056–8, 3067–72, 4055–8, 4067–9)
a(6) Miscellaneous finds (TL 03688528), probably from a former gravel pit, are ill-recorded. Worked flints, animal bones, sherds of medieval pottery and a 'paved floor' are said to have been found (OS Record Cards).