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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
(OS 1:10000 a SP 97 NW, b SP 97 NE)
The parish, triangular in shape, covering some 400 hectares, lies on the N. side of the valley of Cranford Brook, W. of Thrapston, between 120 ft. and 280 ft. above OD. The higher, N.W., part is on Boulder Clay, but elsewhere narrow bands of limestones, sands and clays outcrop along the valley sides.
A considerable part of the parish has been worked for ironstone. Most of the monuments listed have been found during quarrying, and therefore are incompletely recorded. It is probable that much archaeological material of which there are no accounts, has been destroyed.
Prehistoric and Roman
(1) Bronze Age burial (unlocated). A small Wessex-type grape-cup (Plate 22) was found at Twywell in 1904 from a barrow probably destroyed by ironstone-workings. No other details. (NM; OS Record Cards)
(2) Round barrows (?) (unlocated) are said to have existed in Twywell parish, but are now destroyed. The grape-cup (see (1) above) may have come from one in this group. No details. (OS Record Cards; T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants., (1904), 20)
a(3) Bronze Age burial (?) (sp 94287715). The discovery during ironstone minings in 1923 of a large globular urn of Middle Bronze Age type, containing human bones, was reported, but this urn may have been confused with a Saxon pot (see (9); Plate 23). No other details. (OS Record Cards)
b(4) Iron Age settlement (SP 952788), 500 m. N. of Twywell village on the S.W. side of a small valley on limestone at 200 ft. above OD. Discovered during the stripping of overburden for ironstone quarrying, it was destroyed after partial excavation. An extensive area of ditched enclosures, circular or curving gullies apparently hut sites, pits and postholes was found. One complete roughly rectangular enclosure was excavated, which measured 45 m. long and between 15 m. and 25 m. wide, with an entrance about 2 m. wide in the N.E. corner. Seventy-five pits outside the enclosure were excavated and a further 80 or 90 were noted within and beyond it. The skeletons of an adult, two children and several animals were found in the pits. One contained a layer of carbonised grain. Over 100 post-holes in two groups and probably marking timber structures, were identified within the enclosure, also three circular gullies or hut sites. The latter, having diameters of approximately 5 m., 10 m., and 14 m., had entrances facing E. and N.E. The associated pottery has been dated to the later Iron Age, perhaps between 300 and 100 B.C. (inf. A. Brown; MPBW, Annual Excavation Reports 1967, (1968), 9; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 43–4)
b(5) Roman settlement (?) (sp 961781), on the N. side of Twywell Brook on sand at 150 ft. above OD. Found in 1881 during ironstone quarrying, only pottery was recorded, but a settlement is indicated. The pottery included late Iron Age types as well as some Roman wares. At a later date and from another area a further Roman pot was found (T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants., (1904), 20; PSA, 2nd ser., IX (1882), 91–3; XIV (1892), 172; OS Record Cards). There are also three Roman pots in Twywell church, labelled as from 'Twywell Glebe' (Plate 23).
b(6) Roman well (SP 95257808), just S. of Twywell church on the side of the valley of Twywell Brook on sand at 175 ft. above OD. It was discovered during ironstone-quarrying in 1926; at the bottom the base of a samian pot was found. No other details. (OS Record Cards)
a(7) Roman settlement (centred SP 943775), on the N. side of the valley of Twywell Brook on limestone at 200 ft. above OD. Large quantities of Roman pottery and of building mat erials have been recovered at various times during ironstonequarrying. At least some of the pottery came from ditches or pits exposed in the quarry faces. (NM; KM; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 44; OS Record Cards)
(8) Iron Age or Roman burial (unlocated). There is in NM part of a very large handmade storage jar of late Iron Age or early Roman type. It was allegedly found at Twywell in the early part of this century in an ironstone quarry, and a skeleton is said to have been in it. (NM Records)
Medieval and Later
a(9) Saxon burials (area SP 9477?) have certainly been found in this area, but the details are obscure. OS maps show 'Anglo Saxon Remains found 1870' at TL 93737688, close to Twywell Brook. Records also exist of three small Saxon urns found in the late 19th century together with a description of Roman pottery, now identified as (5) above. However, five pots (Plate 23), of Saxon date, in Twywell church are labelled as from 'Twywell Glebe'. (NM; OS Record Cards; Meaney, Gazetteer, 196)
(10) Cultivation remains. The common fields were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1765. A map of 1736 (in NRO) shows that there were then three large open fields, Cranford Slade, Stone Pit and Holm Fields, occupying most of the parish. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, all of it arranged in end-on furlongs. These features can be correlated precisely with the strip arrangement shown on the 1736 map. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1994, 4225–9, 4428–33)
(11) Pits (unlocated, but said to be in 'Twywell Field') were discovered in the 18th century 'near a foot path leading to Cranford when the turnpike was being constructed'. Several conical holes, partly filled with rubbish including animal bones, a piece of antler and fragments of an 'urn', were noted. (Gent's Mag., 27 (1757), 21; VCH Northants., I (1902), 221)