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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The parish, covering nearly 1120 hectares, consists of an irregular triangle of land, extending N.W. of the R. Nene at 100 ft. above OD, over a broad and generally flat interfluve some 260 ft. to 290 ft. above OD and then down the S. side of the Lyveden valley, here 200 ft. above OD. Except around the village, which lies on river gravel, the greater part of the parish is on either Boulder or Oxford Clays. There are still extensive woodlands on the higher parts.
The parish is noteworthy for the large number of Prehistoric and Roman sites found in it; this has been the result of chance discovery rather than the presence of those physical features which were especially attractive to settlement. The major complex at Henslow Meadow in the S. of the parish was uncovered by recent gravel-workings, and detailed excavation by D. A. Jackson for the Department of the Environment has enabled a long sequence of sites to be recorded. These include the Neolithic mortuary enclosure (1), and a number of barrows and ring ditches (2–7). An Iron Age settlement, Roman settlements, a pit alignment and a Roman bridge (8–11) have also been discovered. Another major Roman settlement and some undated enclosures (12–17) elsewhere in the parish have been discovered by fieldwork and air photography.
In the extreme N. of the parish two medieval moated sites (19) and (20) are part of the extensive remains of now-abandoned medieval settlement in the Lyveden valley (see p. xxxix and Fig. 12), which may have been organized economically on an extra-parochial basis.
(1–11) Henslow Meadow complex (centred SP 997803; Fig. 16) lies in the S. of the parish on the N. side of Harper's Brook, on gravel, sand and clay at just under 100 ft. above OD. The whole area has been systematically worked for gravel during the last 10 years and a number of sites here have been discovered by air photography. Excavations by D. A. Jackson for the Department of the Environment, have been carried out on these and on other sites found during gravel-digging. Another group of sites lies to the S. of the brook in Islip parish (1–5).
b(1) Neolithic Mortuary Enclosure (SP 99658035), excavated in 1968, overlaid a number of pits representing earlier occupation of the site. It had three main phases of construction. In phase I a rectangular area, 10 m. wide by at least 12 m. long, was enclosed by a shallow ditch. This area, with pits and postholes in it, may be interpreted as a ridge-roofed mortuary house. Phase II saw the construction of a deep ovoid ditch, 19 m. by 14.5 m., with two small causeways through it. Within, a second mortuary house was erected which contained two adult male inhumations. In phase III an outer ovoid ditch, 36.5 m. by 32 m., was dug, apparently to provide spoil for a mound. Many small limestone slabs were incorporated in this mound and Peterborough and Grooved Ware sherds were found in the ditch (Antiquity, 45 (1971), 42–4, Fig. 1; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 35–6). Nearby a Peterborough Ware pot was discovered during gravel-digging. The associated material included logs, twigs, hazel nuts and shells (BNFAS, 8 (1973), 3).
b(2) Round Barrow and Cremation Cemetery (SP 99738030) lay 70 m. S.E. of (1) and were excavated in 1967. The barrow was originally some 30 m. in diam., surrounded by a ditch, and is said to have been 3 m. high before destruction. In the centre a large rectangular pit contained a wooden boat-shaped coffin in which was found an inhumation burial with, at its feet, two flint arrowheads, a scraper, two bone spatulae, a boar's tusk and a rubbing stone. In the general area surrounding this barrow and (3) a number of small pits containing cremated bones and charcoal, were discovered; in one pit were fragments of an unspecified Bronze Age urn. Four post-holes were found around one of these pits (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 36).
b(3) Round Barrow (SP 99808022) 70 m. S.E. of (2) was also excavated in 1967. It was 30 m. in diam., surrounded by a ditch, and about 1 m. high before its destruction. A large rectangular central pit contained a wooden boat-shaped coffin with a disarticulated inhumation burial; beside its legs was part of a crushed Long-Necked Beaker (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 36).
b(4) Round Barrow (SP 99838046) 170 m. N.E. of (2) was excavated in 1968. It was 30 m. in diam. and surrounded by a ditch. The interior was featureless, the original surface having been destroyed by ploughing. A pit, dug into the ditch when it had already become partly silted up, contained black ash and pottery decorated in the Peterborough tradition (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 47).
e(5) Round Barrow (TL 00098041), 300 m. E. of (4) was excavated in 1970. It was 27 m. in diam. and surrounded by a ditch 1.7 m. deep. The interior was featureless. A pit dug into the side of the ditch contained a skull which was covered by a perforated limestone slab; other human bones were found in the ditch-filling (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 3, Aldwincle (1); DOE Archaeological Excavations 1971, (1972), 1; inf. D. A. Jackson).
b(7) Ring Ditch (?) (SP 99778062), immediately S.E. of (5). Indistinct on air photographs. Diam. 15 m., ploughed out. On the same photographs are other indistinct marks in this area, which may be ditches (CUAP, ZE 99).
b(8) Iron Age Settlement (SP 99558038), immediately W. of (1), was excavated in 1968–70. A rectangular ditched enclosure with rounded corners, 80 m. long and 45 m. wide, orientated N.W.-S.E., was discovered. One circular hut, 10 m. in diam., with an outer wall of upright planks set in a trench, stood towards the S.E. end of the enclosure, and circular ditches of four other probable huts lay further to the S.E. and over the enclosure ditch. Twenty-nine pits were also found. The pottery is said to be 2nd-century B.C. Adjacent to it, and also over the whole area recently worked for gravel, was a considerable number of narrow shallow intersecting ditches. Most of the pottery from these was late Iron Age or early Roman in date. (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 36–7, 46; 7 (1972), 1; DOE Archaeological Excavations 1971, (1972), 11)
c (9) Pit Alignment (TL 00008038–00228050) was excavated in 1970–71 and has been traced for some 70 m. but certainly extends further N.E. It consists of a line of square pits 0.5 m. deep, 2 m. across and 1.5 m. apart. However, as 1 m. of topsoil had already been removed before exacavation, the original depth was at least 1.5 m. and they were probably only 1 m. apart at the surface. At its S. end the pit alignment terminated against a ditch. The alignment predates the Roman Road 57a (see p. 117) which intersects it. Late Iron Age pottery was found in primary silting of the pits (inf. D. A. Jackson; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 1).
b(10) Roman Settlement (SP 99958019), close to Harper's Brook. A number of pits and ditches associated with 2nd-century pottery were exposed by the stripping of top-soil for the gravel pits in this area. No excavation was possible (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 37).
b(11) Roman Bridge (SP 99958012) was excavated in 1967–8. The bridge carried the Roman Road 57a across the R. Nene which then flowed along the course now taken by Harper's Brook. The timber remains of three successive bridges and the N.W. abutment were found (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 37–8; Current Arch., 9 (1968), 229–30; JRS 58 (1968), 192; MOW Archaeological Excavations 1968, (1969), 18)
a(12) Enclosure (SP 97178517), on level ground at 300 ft. above OD on Boulder Clay in the N. of the parish. It is visible on air photographs (in NMR) as an almost square ditched feature covering about two hectares. The W. side is obscured by a modern hedge (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 3, Aldwincle (2)).
c(13) Roman Settlement (TL 00308110; Fig. 17), 700 m. S.W. of Aldwincle village, on gravel at 130 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a highly complex pattern of enclosures and ditches forming no coherent plan. On the ground there is a considerable quantity of limestone rubble scattered over the N. part of the area, together with large amounts of Roman pottery including Nene Valley types and samian. Roof and flue tiles and painted wall-plaster have been found here. More Roman pottery, tiles and limestone rubble were discovered in the field to the W. of the crop-marks (TL 002812) when it was ploughed in 1964, and other pottery has been noted N. of the modern road (TL 004813). A barbed-and-tanged arrowhead and a scraper have also come from the site (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 6, 38–9; OS Record Cards; CUAP, ZE 97, ZE 102).
b (14) Roman Settlement (SP 99018240), in the W. of the parish on a S.E.-facing slope at 170 ft. above OD on Oxford Clay. Roman pottery of 3rd and 4th-century date and a scatter of limestone rubble have been found (inf. D. A. Jackson).
b(15) Roman Settlement (SP 994826), in a similar position to (14). Roman pottery and fragments of tile have been recorded (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 39); subsequently, more pottery, limestone rubble and roof tiles have been discovered.
a (16) Enclosures (?) (SP 98928321), immediately N.E. of Little Wood, on Boulder Clay at 250 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a number of indistinct ditches which perhaps are parts of two small enclosures. (Air photographs in NMR)
b(17) Enclosure (SP 99908300), 1 km. E.S.E. of (16) on Oxford Clay at 150 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a number of indistinct ditches, perhaps part of small enclosures, but only one rectangular enclosure, 100 m. by 20 m., orientated N.W.-S.E., can be identified. (Air photographs in NMR)
b (18) Anglo-Saxon settlement and burial (centred SP 997803) found during excavations in Henslow Meadow gravel pit. A number of sherds, apparently of 6th-century date, and part of a loom weight, found when top-soil was being removed, probably came from shallow pits or depressions. A 'well' or water-hole, 1 m. diam. and probably just 2 m. deep, with a hearth nearby associated with mid-Saxon pottery, was also discovered. The body of a man, with a small knife of Saxon type between his ribs, was found buried in the surface of the Roman road near the W. abutment of the bridge (11). (JRS, 58 (1968), 192; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 38–9; 7 (1972), 38; Med. Arch., 16 (1973), 158; DOE Archaeological Excavations 1971 (1972), 33; inf. D. A. Jackson)
a (19) Moat (SP 98068552; Fig. 18), in the N. of the parish on flat ground above the Lyveden valley at 260 ft. above OD. on Boulder Clay. It has been completely destroyed by ploughing, but air photographs and to a lesser extent OS maps show that it consists of two conjoined rectangular islands each surrounded by a wide ditch (Arch. J., 129 (1973), 154–60). Medieval pottery, glazed ridge-tiles and limestone rubble have been picked up on the site. (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 19; CUAP, ATT 30–33)
a (20) Moat (SP 98158550; Fig. 18), immediately E. of (19) of which it may form a part. The site consisted of a rectangular island surrounded by a wide ditch, but only the ditch on the N.W. side now remains, much mutilated. Parts of the S.W. side existed until recently but have been destroyed. The S.E. and N.E. sides were apparently filled in when the late 16th-century gardens (22) in which it lies were constructed. Medieval and post-medieval pottery, glazed and unglazed roof tiles as well as building material are scattered over the interior. (Arch. J., 129 (1973), 154–60; BNFAS, 3 (1969), 19 and 29)
c (21) Settlement remains (TL 01008150) formerly part of Aldwincle, lie in allotments immediately W. of All Saints' Church. Large quantities of medieval pottery, and foundations of stone buildings, have been dug up over many years. The area was already devoid of buildings by the late 18th century (NRO, maps).
a (22) Garden remains (SP 982859–982853; Figs. 18 and 19) situated between Lyveden Old and New Bields, on the S. side of the Lyveden Valley. The site comprises the unfinished remains of an elaborate garden with terraces, mounds and moats which was constructed by Sir Thomas Thresham between 1597 and 1604 (Arch. J., 129 (1973), 154–60 for full description).
(23) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parishes of St. Peter and of All Saints were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1772. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, over much of the S.E. part of the parish in the form of end-on or interlocked furlongs. There are C-curved and reversed-S forms, none of which relates to the existing fields. In the extreme N.W. of the parish, in the valley of the Lyveden Brook, air photographs show ridge-and-furrow within the existing fields, which is presumably associated with the medieval settlements at Lyveden. These settlements include the moats (19) and (20), and the deserted village nearby (Pilton (6)). (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1994, 4424–7; 2109, 3421–25; 541/143, 1482–6, 3183–7)