Pages 101-105

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 2, Archaeological Sites in Central Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1979.

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Table of contents


(OS 1:10000 a SP 88 SE, b SP 87 NE)

The large parish covers about 1800 hectares and now includes the old parish of Barton Seagrave, which lay to the S.E. of the former Kettering parish. The town of Kettering is situated on a flat-topped ridge, composed mainly of Northampton Sand, at around 90 m.–105 m. above OD. On either side of this ridge the land falls steeply, to the R. Ise on the E. and The Slade on the W., both of which flow S. in clay-floored valleys. E. of the Ise, in what was mainly the old parish of Barton Seagrave, the land rises steeply to just over 91 m. above OD, where bands of sands, silts and limestones are exposed. The major monument in the parish is the unusually large Iron Age and Roman settlement (6) which occupies much of the N. part of the town and extends into Weekley and Geddington parishes. Much of the evidence for its extent has been recovered during ironstonemining and urban development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, though some has been excavated more recently during redevelopment. As a result the records are largely inadequate and it is unlikely that the full extent and significance of this settlement will ever be known. Other Iron Age and Roman settlements, (4), (5) and (7), have also been discovered during modern urban expansion. The only notable site at Barton Seagrave is the so-called castle (14).

Prehistoric and Roman

At least four Iron Age coins (three in KM) are recorded from Kettering, but their exact provenance is not known. One is a British B, Chute type, another is ascribed to Tasciovanus, and two others are of Cunobelinus. In addition a large number of Roman coins are listed as from Kettering (KM). Most of these, and the Iron Age ones, probably come from (6) (VCH Northants., I (1902), 218; Brit. Num. J., 4 (1907), 358; 21 (1931–3), 4; PSA, (2nd series) 23 (1911), 493–4). In addition two coins have been found to the W. of the town (at SP 85547911; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 9; OS Record Cards) and two more to the E., one at SP 879791 and the other at SP 888784 (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 19; Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 6). A Bronze Age Handled Beaker is said to have been found at Kettering (Arch. Cambrensis, (7th series) 5 (1925), 31).

b(1) Enclosure (?) (SP 891793), in the N.E. of the parish, on the E. side of the valley of the R. Ise, on sand at 84 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show, very indistinctly, three sides of a possible rectangular enclosure, covering about 0.25 hectares.

a(2) Bronze Age Settlement or Burial (?) (probably SP 871809). Worked flints and fragments of 'Bronze Age pottery' were discovered here during ironstone-mining in 1903 (PSA, (2nd Series) 32 (1911), 498; OS Record Cards, for a more doubtful location). These finds appear to have come from the same workings as much of the Roman material of (6). The sherds are those of a Collared Urn of the Primary Series (NM; PPS, 27 (1961), 119).

a(3) Bronze Age Burials (?) (probably SP 860801), N.E. of the town in the bottom of a small valley. There is a vague reference to four Bronze Age urns, found just prior to 1904 at 'Kettering Furnaces'. Another urn was apparently discovered 'North of Kettering' during drainage work in 1903 (Ass. Arch. Soc. Reps., 27 (1904), 382).

b(4) Iron Age Settlement (SP 895783), on flat land at 98 m. above OD, on Oolitic Limestone. During development of the area for housing in 1968 numerous ditches and pits, containing late Iron Age B pottery, were revealed in foundation trenches, but no coherent plan was recovered (OS Record Cards).

b(5) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (SP 886764), S. of Dale's Lodge on the E. side of the valley of the R. Ise, on sand at 70 m. above OD. A Roman coin was found in the area in 1922, but only when the area was developed for housing in 1964–5 were other features noted. Pits containing late Iron Age pottery as well as quantities of Roman pottery were then discovered in the foundations. Only part of a large site was recorded. Some medieval pottery was also found (BNFAS., 3 (1969), 6; OS Record Cards).

a(6) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (centred SP 871806; Fig. 12), covers at least 125 hectares and probably extends N. into Weekley and Geddington parishes where other Iron Age and Roman discoveries have been made (Weekley (1), Geddington (4)). It lies on generally flat land on sand and limestone at around 100 m. above OD.

The area has long been known as the site of a large Roman settlement. Even in the early 18th century Bridges noted that 'several urns, coins and bones' had been found in Stoneylands between Weekley Woods and Kettering'. In the late 19th century large quantities of coins were found, and there is a record of 'a sort of oven', possibly a hypocaust or kiln. In 1903, when the present housing estate on the N. side of the town was laid out (centred SP 870802), Roman pottery was found in quantities over a large area, as well as animal bones, human bones, coins and two or three wells. One of these, nearly 5 m. deep, was at the end of Blandford Avenue (SP 87188055). Another, at the E. end of Neale Avenue (SP 87228048), contained the remains of a pair of leather sandals. Since then other finds have been made (see below).

At a later date ironstone-working started in the area N. of the town, extending into Weekley parish. From there came many Roman coins, 'immense quantities of pottery' including Nene Valley and samian wares, many brooches, a pottery Celtic face, part of a face urn, a green glass jug, a small bronze head of Diana, a jet head of Medusa, a bronze socketed staff-head in the form of an eagle's head, iron and bronze implements and a steelyard. A number of wells and a 'bath-shaped oven' are also recorded. Traces of a road were also noticed in the workings (at about SP 871806), and in the same area a large patch of pebbles, laid in cement, and another, irregular expanse of cement floor, bounded on two sides by fragments of walls with painted wall-plaster, and with roof tiles and nails, were discovered. Other foundation pits and wells were also found (VCH Northants., I (1902), 194; Ass. Arch. Soc. Reps., 27 (1904), 382–7; PSA, (2nd series) 23 (1911), 493–501; 24 (1912), 223– 5; BAR, 24 (1976), 180; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 241; KM).

Later finds in the area have included a Roman burial in an urn, in Beatrice Road (SP 86958018; JBAA, 32 (1926), 316–7), Roman pottery including Nene Valley wares (SP 87238009 and 87158028; OS Record Cards), Roman pottery including samian (SP 86867992; OS Record Cards), Roman coins (SP 876798, 870795 and 869795; BNFAS, 4 (1970), 9; OS Record Cards), and a mould for applying decoration to pottery (SP 875796; Ant. J., 20 (1940), 497–9; Surrey Archaeol. Coll., 56 (1959), 160–1; JRS, 29 (1939), 208).

There have also been more recent discoveries and excavations in the area, which have produced further material. In Mitchell Street (SP 872805) Iron Age and Roman pottery, coins, glass and bones have been recovered as well as hearths, remains of collapsed masonry and pits (BNFAS, 1 (1966), 10–11; 2 (1967), 12–13; Cytringanian (Kettering Grammer School Magazine), 51 (1967), 24–46). In North Park Avenue (SP 873801) a layer of weathered and burnt limestone rubble, together with Nene Valley and samian wares, bones and four coins, a fibula and two finger rings, were found (Cytringanian, 50 (1966), 33–4; BNFAS, 1 (1966), 11). Further N.E. (at SP 874802) excavations have revealed a number of pits containing 3rd to 4th-century pottery, bone pins, a fibula, glass beads and thirteen coins. Near by were other pits containing 1st to early 2nd-century pottery and other domestic rubbish (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 14; 7 (1972), 21; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 2 (1972), 14; Britannia, 3 (1972), 359; DOE Arch. Excavations, 1971 (1972), 21). In Blandford Avenue (SP 874806) redevelopment work in 1973 led to the discovery of Roman pits, ditches and a paved road, as well as pottery, bricks, tiles, glass fragments and coins. N. of Blandford Avenue (SP 871806) other redevelopment work revealed pits, a clay-lined oven, circular clay plates, possibly from a pottery kiln, and an area of gravel and limestone, perhaps a road or track. A little pottery, including samian, as well as five 4th-century coins, were also found (Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 90; Britannia, 5 (1974), 278). To the S.W. (probably around SP 877800) a paved area associated with 2nd to 4th-century pottery was noted during development work before 1961 (J. Northants. Natur. Hist. Soc. and FC, 34 (1961), 97–8).

b(7) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (centred SP 886780), on the E. side of the valley of the R. Ise, on sand at 76 m. above OD. During construction work on a housing estate a number of discoveries were made which included the following: ditches, gullies and pits containing late Belgic pottery, and surface finds of worked flints, a barbed-and-tanged arrowhead and sherds of Iron Age pottery; ditches and pits associated with box and roof tiles, a quantity of late Roman pottery, some Iron Age sherds and a human skeleton; a 1st or 2nd-century Roman pottery kiln with four clay pedestals in situ and a 3rd to 4th-century stone-built corn-drying oven, built over a mass of pits and ditches containing late Belgic pottery (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 9; 5 (1971), 19; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 84, 91; Britannia, 5 (1974), 434–5).

b(8) Roman (?) Iron Workings (SP 86627879), close to the junction of Gold Street and High Street. An 'iron-smelting furnace' with bones and a 'mattock' was discovered in 1864 during building operations (OS Record Cards).

b(9) Roman Burial (SP 878772), found in the early 20th century in what is now Wickstead Park on the W. side of the valley of the R. Ise on sand at 68 m. above OD. An urn, now lost, but said to be of the 2nd century, full of earth and burnt bones, was discovered (PSA, (2nd series) 26 (1974), 245).

Medieval and Later

b(10) Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (SP 876792), across Stamford Road, on the W. side of the valley of the R. Ise, on sand at 114 m. above OD. It was first discovered around 1900 when the area was being developed for building. Fragments of urns and part of a brooch were found. In 1903 80 or 90 other urns, containing cremations, were found, as well as bronze tweezers and glass; six skeletons and a plain urn were also recorded. In 1904 a cruciform brooch and part of another urn came to light. In 1929 excavations in the area produced four other inhumations, sixteen urns and bronze ornaments (Meaney, Gazetteer, (1964), 191–2, for all refs.; Ass. Arch. Soc. Reps., 27 (1904), 385–6; J. Northants. Mus. and Art Gall., 6 (1969), 37–41; J.N.L. Myres, Anglo-Saxon Pottery and the Settlement of England, (1969), Fig. 3, No. 745; Fig. 18, No. 776; Fig. 27, No. 771; Fig. 28, No. 754; Fig. 29, No. 774; Fig. 33, No. 765; Fig. 43; Fig. 44, No. 748; Fig. 49, No. 779; Plates 3–7; NM; KM).

b(11) Anglo-Saxon Burial (SP 87877788), found in 1961 in Windmill Avenue, on the W. side of the valley of the R. Ise, on sand at 99 m. above OD. A plain urn was discovered in a drainage ditch (Meaney, op. cit., 192; KM).

b(12) Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (SP 892764), on the parish boundary between Barton Seagrave and Burton Latimer, on limestone at 91 m. above OD. The site was revealed in the course of ironstone-quarrying between 1880 and 1885. At least 17 urns, an iron shieldboss and bronze-gilt disc brooches were discovered (Meaney. op. cit., 186; J. Northants. Mus. and Art Gall., 6 (1969), 37–41; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 101; J.N.L. Myres, Anglo-Saxon Pottery and the Settlement of England, (1969), Fig. 36, No. 1465; Fig. 44, No. 744; Plate 6; BM).

b(13) Anglo-Saxon Burial (?) (perhaps SP 882796), on the W. side of the valley of the R. Ise. A skeleton with a spearhead was discovered before 1806, but no further details are known (Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc., (1966), 249).

b(14) Barton Seagrave Castle and Fish-Ponds (SP 88607691–88627712; Fig. 96; Plate 7), lie on the E. side of the R. Ise, on the valley side below Barton Seagrave village, on clay and sand at 60 m.– 70 m. above OD.

The site is often termed a 'castle' but the remains suggest that there was never much more than two simple moated enclosures, one of which held a manor house. There is, however, a record of one Nicholas de Seagrave obtaining licence to crenellate in the early 14th century and this perhaps indicates the date of the construction of the moats, although it may only represent a rebuilding on an existing site. The site appears to be that of the manor house of Barton Hanred, one of the two manors in Barton Seagrave, which is last mentioned as inhabited in 1433 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 176–8; II (1906), 414; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 217; N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England: Northants., (1961), 98–9; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 6 (1976), 23–4).

Fig. 96 Kettering (14) Barton Seagrave Castle and fishponds, (15) Settlement remains

The site consists of two moated enclosures, linked by a ditch, as well as two fishponds. All were apparently fed by springs which break out at the junction of the clay and sand. The S. moat encloses an island of somewhat irregular form, surrounded by a wide ditch up to 2 m. deep. The interior is very uneven and much disturbed. A broad outer bank 1.5 m. high, on the N. and W. sides formerly held the water in the ditch. In the S.W. corner the ditch is much wider than elsewhere, and was perhaps a fishpond. Immediately to the W. is another rectangular pond, also probably for fish. Just outside the S.W. corner of the moat there is a large irregular mound, which is possibly a spoil heap from the original construction work. This moat is undoubtedly the site of the manor house, and it is probably from this place that the 'window frames and door cases of stone with other large quantities of good face-stone' came, (J. Bridges, op. cit.). From the N. side of the moat a shallow ditch extends northwards to a second moated site. This consists of a well-defined rectangular island completely surrounded by a ditch up to 2 m. deep with massive outer banks or dams on the N. and W. The island is flat, but is occupied by one small and two large rectangular ponds, 1 m.– 1.5 m. deep. A large watercourse, now mainly dry, passes to the N. of the moat. To the E. and N.E. are the remains of at least three rectangular paddocks or closes which were perhaps once part of Barton Seagrave village (15). The purpose of this moat is obscure and no satisfactory explanation for the ponds in the interior has been suggested. One possible explanation is that they were fish-breeding tanks, but why these should need to be moated is not apparent (see also Braybrooke (1) and Section Preface, p. lix).

S.W. of the second moat and close to the W. edge of the area, there is a small roughly rectangular embanked pond with a ditch entering it from the E. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1238–9, 4350–2).

b(15) Settlement Remains (SP 887772– 891772; partly on Fig. 96), formerly part of Barton Seagrave village, lie N.E. of the castle (14) along the S. side of the present main Kettering-Burton Latimer Road (A 6), on Northampton Sand between 67 m. and 84 m. above OD. Before the modern road was widened and realigned there were several platforms and paddocks alongside it. During the road works a considerable amount of medieval pottery was noted, including Stamford and Lyveden wares of 11th to 13th-century date. Some of the platforms also had masonry on them (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 22; DMVRG, Annual Report, 15 (1967), 4). Two large rectangular paddocks bounded by shallow ditches now remain, E. of St. Botolphs Road and N.E. of the castle site. The southernmost has a house platform in its S.E. corner; the N. one has a series of scarps, cut into by the modern road along its N. edge. These latter may be former house platforms. Further E. (not shown on Fig. 96), there are other indeterminate banks and scarps which are probably part of the same site, while 200 m. to the E. (at SP 890772) there is a large L-shaped depression, 45 m. across and 1.5 m. deep, set into the hillside. This is perhaps an old pond (RAF VAP CPE/ UK/1925, 1238–9, 4350–2).

(16) Coin Hoard (unlocated), found in Kettering in 1927. Sixty-three coins dating from Elizabeth I to 1646, all in poor condition, are recorded (Num. Chron., (5th series) 8 (1928), 337).

(17) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the old parish of Kettering were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1804 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 219). Before this date there were three named open fields, Upper, Middle and Nether. To the W. was an area of old enclosures, with a triangular area to the N. known as Kettering Links or Cottagers Common (NRO, Map of 1727). There is ridge-and-furrow on the former but not on the latter. As most of the parish is now built over, little ridge-and-furrow remains on the ground or can be traced from air photographs, but the blocks that remain appear to be arranged in end-on or interlocked furlongs in relation to the relief, with the ridges usually running across the contours, e.g. Bull Pool Furlong and the adjoining block to the N. (SP 877764), and the blocks in the old enclosures (centred SP 857780; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 241).

The date of the enclosure of the common fields of the old parish of Barton Seagrave is unknown, though Bridges, writing in about 1720, says that it had taken place 'above a hundred years ago' (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 217). Traces of ridge-and-furrow on the ground or from air photographs are fragmentary. A small group of interlocked furlongs survives at SP 895773.

Part of the modern parish of Kettering was formerly part of Warkton parish. For cultivation remains, see Warkton (3). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1244–34, 4348–55; 540/474, 4044–8, 3046–8; F21 540/RAF/ 1312, 0165–70, 0131–7; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0131–7; 541/602, 4123–6).