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 09 NW, b TL 09 NE, c TL 09 SE)
The large parish of 1000 hectares occupies an irregularly-shaped area W. of the R. Nene which forms its E. boundary. The land slopes gently E. to the river between 230 ft. and 45 ft. above OD, and small streams have cut shallow valleys into it. Most of the parish is on limestone, sands and marls, but on the higher land in the extreme W. these are overlain by Boulder Clay.
The major monuments in the parish (1–20) include a large Roman 'village', enclosures, and a considerable number of ring ditches. These lie close to the river S.E. of the village, all on limestone or river gravels. In the same area an important Saxon cemetery (27) has been discovered.
Prehistoric and Roman
b(1–15) Fotheringhay Lodge complex (Fig. 50), in the S.E. of the parish on gravel and limestone along the edge of the R. Nene flood-plain at about 50 ft. above OD. The major part of the site comprises a large Roman village with a main 'street' or trackway running through it; the village mainly lies within Nassington parish but it has been described for convenience under Fotheringhay (Fotheringhay (13)). The pit alignment on the E. of the complex is also listed under the latter parish (Fotheringhay (10)). All the monuments listed below as ring ditches are probably former barrows, but some may be hut circles connected with the settlement. (CUAP, ATZ78, AHN95, AVD54, ZB23; air photographs in NMR)
b(1) Ring ditch (TL 07519550), at the extreme N. end of the Roman settlement, diam. 25 m.
b(2) Ring ditch (TL 07549546), 14 m. S. of (1), diam. 30 m.
b(3) Ring ditch (TL 07569532), 105 m. S. of (2), diam. 30 m.
b(4) Ring ditch (TL 07549532), immediately W. of (3), diam. 10 m.
b(5) Ring ditches (TL 07569531), immediately S. of (3). Two concentric ditches, diams. 25 m. and 13 m., with a slightly eccentric pit or grave.
b(6) Ring ditch (TL 07629531), 15 m. E. of (5), diam. 15 m.
b(7) Ring ditch (TL 07599526), immediately S.E. of (5), diam. 47 m.
b(8) Ring ditch (TL 07619523), immediately S.E. of (7) in the corner of an enclosure, diam. 7 m. Possibly a hut circle.
b(9) Ring ditch (TL 07689528), 35 m. E. of (7), diam. 18 m. The ditch bounding the E. side of the 'village' street runs into this ring ditch and post-dates it.
b(10) Ring ditch (TL 07589509), 170 m. S. of (7), diam. 15 m.
b(11) Ring ditch (TL 07649511), 25 m. N.E. of (10), diam. 15 m., with a well-marked central pit or grave.
b(12) Ring ditch (TL 07809502), only partly visible on air photographs and intersected by a ditch of a settlement; diam. 15 m.
b(13) Ring ditch (TL 08069522), E. of the old railway, diam. 15 m. It is intersected by a long linear ditch, and a pit alignment (Fotheringhay (10)) passes round its W. side and thus presumably post-dates it.
b(14) Ring ditch (TL 08089500), across the parish boundary with Fotheringhay; diam. 30 m.
b(15) Roman settlement (?) (TL 07409522), immediately E. of Lyveden Farm and may be connected with the main settlement to the E. A scatter of Roman pottery, including Nene Valley wares of the 3rd and 4th centuries, has been found. (inf. J. A. Hadman)
b(16–20) Swan's Nest complex (Fig. 75) occupies the land between Nassington village and the Fotheringhay Lodge Complex. Perhaps a continuation of the latter, it lies along the edge of the R. Nene on river gravel at between 50 ft. and 75 ft. above OD (CUAP, ADR35–6, ZB29–31, ZF49; air photographs in NMR).
b(16) Enclosure (?) (TL 06959611), on the S. of a small stream, the course of which is the result of modern alteration. Because of this change and the permanently damp ground in the area, only two parallel ditches, with a sharp bend at their S. ends, are visible on air photographs. The remains are perhaps the W. side of a small rectangular enclosure.
b(17) Enclosure (TL 06979604), to the S. of (16). Damp ground prevents any trace of the N.E. side being recorded on air photographs, but an entrance may have been here. A small ring ditch on the S.E. side is probably a hut circle and vague marks on air photographs suggest other possible hut circles to the N. of it (not shown on Fig. 75). There is a large pit in the S.W. corner which is also intersected by the long linear ditch.
b(18) Linear ditches and Roman settlement (TL 06689598– 06959555), S.W. of (17). The ditches are indistinctly shown on all available photographs, and extensive frost-wedges in the gravel make interpretation of features difficult. There are perhaps more enclosures and other features in the area. At the S.E. end of these ditches, between them and an old quarry (centred TL 070957), traces of Roman occupation have been discovered. Finds include pottery, building materials, charcoal and animal bones. In addition, shallow depressions and at least three hearths are recorded (Ant. J., XXIV (1944), 100).
b(19) Ring ditch (TL 07009573), near the E. side of (18), diam. 22 m. (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 32)
b(20) Enclosure (TL 07059577), immediately E. of (19). Small and sub-rectangular, with no visible entrance or internal features. (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 32)
b(21) Ring ditch (TL 07109707), N.E. of the village, close to the Yarwell parish boundary, on limestone at 100 ft. above OD, overlooking the R. Nene; diam. 20 m. (CUAP, ZB32)
b(22) Settlement (TL 066970; Fig. 76), N. of the village and close to the Yarwell parish boundary on limestone at 125 ft. above OD. Rectangular enclosures and associated ditches, of complex character, are cut by an old quarry (CUAP, ZB33–34)
b(23) Enclosures (TL 052964; Fig. 77), W. of the village and just E. of New Sulehay on limestone at 150 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a group of rectangular enclosures and linear ditches as well as a length of ditched trackway. Only the central enclosure, with its entrance on S. side, is clear on air photographs; the others are indistinct and difficult to trace (CUAP, ABV80, ADR27).
b(24) Roman settlement (?) (centred TL 062964), at the N.W. end of the village, on limestone and clay at 100 ft. above OD. Roman pottery and black earth were discovered before 1900 (VCH Northants., II (1906), 587).
a(25) Roman burial and iron-workings (centred TL 045985) found during quarrying. Part of a human skeleton, associated with iron slag and 3rd-century pottery, has been discovered. (CBA Group 7, Bull. 12 (1965), 2)
a(26) Roman iron-workings (centred TL 048986), in the N.W. of the parish, close to the Roman Road W. from Wansford (571). Artis' map of the area shows four iron-working sites (E. T. Artis, Durobrivae, (1828), Plate I).
For the ditched trackway in the W. of the parish, see Apethorpe (2).
For Roman Road 571, see p. 117.
Medieval and Later
b(27) Saxon cemetery (TL 07169564; Fig. 75) was found in a gravel pit in 1942 on the edge of the flood-plain of the R. Nene 50 ft. above OD. Only part of the remains was recorded and much was probably destroyed by the gravel-diggings. Three cremations in pots, two containing bronze and iron objects, were discovered. In addition, 56 graves containing the remains of 65 bodies, all but three with grave goods, were noted. The latter included shield bosses, spearheads, knives, a bucket, brooches of all types, clasps, beads, pendants and pins. (Arch. J., XXIII (1943), 58; XXIV (1944), 100–28; J. Northants. Nat. Hist. Soc. and F. C., XXXI (1949), 34–5; A. Meaney, Gazetteer, 192–3; PM; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)
b(28) Saxon finds (TL 07029683), N.E. of the village on the edge of the R. Nene, on sand at 50 ft. above OD. Saxon pottery and a spindle whorl are said to have been found (OS Record Cards).
(29) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1777 (NRO, Map of 1778). Nothing is known of the arrangement of the fields immediately before that date. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields is traceable on the ground and on air photographs N. (TL 065965), S.W. (TL 059956) and S.E. (TL 080952) of the village, usually in the form of long end-on furlongs. Elsewhere, although no ridge-and-furrow remains, low ridges, formerly headlands up to 700 m. long, are still visible on the ground. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1891, 1040–3, 2206–12, 4128–37; 2109, 4084–9)