BHO

Billing

Pages 2-3

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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2 Billing

(OS 1:10000 SP 86 SW)

The modern parish of Billing, covering only about 300 hectares of land, lies immediately E. of Northampton, on land sloping S. to the R. Nene between 50 m. and 115 m. above OD. The higher, northern half is on Northhampton Sand and the varied rocks of the Estuarine Series, while to the S. Upper Lias Clay outcrops. The parish contains the villages of Little and Great Billing but most of the land of the old parishes is now incorporated within Northampton. Fieldwork and air photography indicate intensive early settlement, perhaps mainly Roman, to the N. and E. of Great Billing. Until modern development took place the church of Great Billing stood isolated from the village in the Park of Billing Hall, perhaps suggesting that the village has moved away from an earlier site. However the area E. of the church is now built over and there is no indication in the parkland to the W. of any village remains.

Prehistoric and Roman

A number of prehistoric finds have been made in the parish. These include: A middle or late Acheulean handaxe found in 1955 in Great Billing village (SP 810629) (PPS, 29 (1963), 383; NM); a polished flint axe of Neolithic type, found at Little Billing (J. Northants. Natur. Hist. Soc. and FC., 27 (1934), 173; NM); a flanged bronze axe found 'at Billing' (copy in NM, original in Oakham Museum; OS Record Cards).

(1) Enclosure (SP 811638), S.W. of Rectory Farm, on limestone at 100 m. above OD. Air photographs (not seen by RCHM) are said to show a rectangular enclosure (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 39).

(2) Enclosure (SP 814630), E. of Great Billing, on Northampton Sand at 76 m. above OD. Air photographs (not seen by RCHM) are said to show a large, rather indistinct enclosure (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 12).

(3) Roman Settlement (?) (around SP 810642), N.W. of Rectory Farm, on limestone at 107 m. above OD. Air photographs (not seen by RCHM) are said to show a complex of cropmarks (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 39). A few sherds of Roman pottery of the 2nd and 3rd centuries have been found in the area (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 153).

(4) Roman Settlement (?) (centred SP 810635), on Northampton Sand at 96 m. above OD. Cropmarks are said to have been seen from the air in 1962 (at SP 81186355) and Roman pottery has been found (NM Records). Further scatters of Roman pottery have been noted at SP 81136346 and 810643 (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 12).

(5) Roman Settlement (SP 81076400), W. of Rectory Farm, on Northampton Sand at 103 m. above OD. A dense scatter of Roman pottery of the 2nd and 3rd centuries has been found (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 12; NM Records).

(6) Roman Settlement (SP 811647), in the extreme N. of the parish, on limestone at 103 m. above OD. Roman pottery, including grey ware, has been found (NM Records).

Medieval and Later

(7) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the old parish of Great Billing were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1778 (VCH Northants., IV (1937), 70). The date of the enclosure of Little Billing is unknown. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over much of the present parish, arranged in end-on or interlocked furlongs carefully adapted to the broken terrain so that the ridges run at right-angles to the contours (RAF VAP CPE/UK/ 2546, 3032–4, 3120–4, 4033–7; F21 543/RAF/943, 0085–8; F22 543/RAF/943, 0083–8; F21 543/RAF/ 2409, 0125–7; F22/RAF/2409, 0125–7).