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.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
19 DODDINGTON, GREAT
The roughly rectangular parish, covering 640 hectares, lies immediately S.W. of Wellingborough and N.W. of the R. Nene which forms its S.E. boundary. From the river, at 42 m. above OD, the land rises steeply across outcrops of clays, limestones and silts to a relatively flat Boulder Clay area between 90 m. and 100 m. above OD. Beyond, the land falls gently towards the Wilby Brook where sands, limestones and silts are exposed. Intensive fieldwork in the parish has led to the discovery of a pattern of early Saxon settlement so far without precedent elsewhere in the county.
Prehistoric and Roman
Worked flints in large quantities have been found in three places. In the W. of the parish (SP 868646) flint tools, including scrapers, as well as waste flakes have been discovered (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 166). To the S.W. (SP 872640), and in the N.E. of the parish further dense scatters of worked flints have been recorded (inf. G.R. Foard).
a(2) Enclosure (SP 882658; Fig. 39; Plate 1), N. of the village, on limestone at 91 m. above OD. Air photographs (CUAP, ABR 69–70, ACA 82) show a D-shaped enclosure bounded by unusually wide ditches. The interior is sub-divided into two unequal parts by a narrow ditch. In the larger N. half is a penannular ring ditch, probably a hut-circle, while the N.W. corner of the enclosure appears to overlie another ring ditch which has internal features. In 1967 two trenches were cut across the area but nothing more than a few sherds of unidentified pottery and one sherd of 12th-century St. Neots ware was discovered (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 33; Rescue Publication 2, Northampton-Wellingborough Expressway Arch. Survey, (1973), Map 5, Plate 3; OS Record Cards). However in 1974 small quantities of Iron Age and Roman pottery were discovered on the site (local information).
b(3) Iron Age Settlement (?) (SP 885647), S.E. of the village, on Boulder Clay at 76 m. above OD. Iron Age pottery has been found during fieldwork. The site probably extends into the pasture field to the N.W. (inf. G.R. Foard).
b(4) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (SP 884649), at the N.E. end of the village on limestone at 85 m. above OD, discovered during building work in 1970. A quantity of apparently 2nd-century Roman pottery and tiles was found as well as a few medieval sherds (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 20). Immediately to the W. (SP 88306495) further large quantities of Roman pottery have been discovered. In the same area unidentified archaeological features were noted during construction work for a school in 1974 (local information). Further field work has established that Roman pottery extends over an area of some 2 hectares (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154). Other finds include Iron Age pottery, Roman roof tiles and a coin of Faustina I, posthumus issue of 140–160 A.D. (inf. G.R. Foard).
b(5) Roman Villa (SP 873636; Fig. 40; Plate 2), in the S.W. of the parish, on gravel at 48 m. above OD. Air photographs (CUAP, ZE 18–21) show a rectangular stone building containing five rooms on the N.E. side of a courtyard with slight traces of other buildings on its S.W. side. Three circular buildings are also visible. A considerable amount of building debris, including limestone, tile and tesserae, as well as much 4th-century pottery, has been found in the area. The villa appears to stand within a large outer rectangular enclosure bounded by parallel ditches, with a possible entrance on the N.E. side (JRS, 51 (1961), 134; Britannia, 5 (1974), 251–61; OS Record Cards).
Medieval and Later
Sherds of early Saxon pottery have been found in a number of places in the parish in addition to the probable settlement sites listed below. These include three sherds in the W. of the parish (SP 868645), six sherds near the church (SP 881649) and five sherds N. of the village (SP 878651; inf. G.R. Foard). Two other Saxon settlements (Wellingborough (27) and (28)) extend across the parish boundary into Great Doddington.
b(10) Settlement Remains (centred SP 883647), lie S. of the village behind the existing houses, on land sloping steeply down to the R. Nene, on limestone between 84 m. and 60 m. above OD. They include a few small embanked closes, formerly parts of gardens (e.g. at SP 8846481), and raised platforms set within small embanked or scarped enclosures, presumably the sites of abandoned houses (e.g. SP 88076467). To the E. of Grove Farm (at SP 88506487) is a series of earthworks which include a small hollow-way, extending from the modern street down the hillside. This is edged by the footings of a limestone wall. To the N.E. of it is a pond and a number of quarry pits, associated with a group of rectangular limestone wall-footings, now grassed over and presumably the remains of former buildings. The remains here do not appear to be of any great antiquity and may be those of a small lime-burning industry. Other more recent brick-pits and quarries lie further S.W. (at SP 88256464; RAF VAP F21 543/RAF/2409, 0133–4).
b(11) Occupation Site (SP 87996476), at the S.W. end of the village, on limestone at 84 m. above OD. During building work in 1967 a large quantity of medieval pottery, building stone and roofing tile was noted. A pit or ditch was revealed in a pipe trench (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 43; NM).
b(12) Hollow-Ways (SP 878640 – 879646), run N.E. up a steep-sided valley from near the R. Nene to the W. end of Doddington village. They consist of rutted, multiple hollow-ways passing between blocks of ridgeand-furrow, and are much damaged by later activity and drainage. They represent the medieval routeway into the village from the river-crossing at Ken Mill (SP 876637). Together with the ridge-and-furrow they form a fine sample of medieval landscape.
a(13) Deserted Medieval Settlement (SP 871656), lies in the extreme N.W. of the parish against the Wilby parish boundary, on Northampton Sand between 80 m. and 90 m. above OD. The settlement is largely unrecorded but Thorpe, the local name for the field, suggests that it was perhaps known as Doddington Thorpe (cf. Earls Barton (16) and p. li). Certainly in the early 14th century a person is recorded with the name Johannes de Thorpe de Dodyngton. The area is now permanent arable and any former earthworks have been destroyed. However in the 19th century the area was apparently covered with scrub (1st ed. 1 in. OS map (1834)). Now only rather uneven ground, with a few depressions and large scarps, exists together with large quantities of limestone rubble and dark patches of soil. A considerable amount of medieval pottery was found in a pipeline trench which was cut across the N. part of the site and pottery of 13th-century date is also recorded from the area. Recent examination has produced two sherds of early Saxon pottery and small quantities of late medieval and post-medieval pottery as well as a silver groat of Elizabeth I (1560–61). To the N., in Wilby parish, a hollow-way approaches the area from Wilby village (see Wilby (7); Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 83, 89, 105; 10 (1975), 166–7; RAF VAP F21 540/RAF/1312, 0285–6).
(14) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1766 (VCH Northants., IV (1937), 113). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground or can be traced from air photographs, S. and E. of the village on land sloping down to the R. Nene, and in small fragments against the N.W. and S.W. boundaries of the parish. A substantial area of it which remains close to the R. Nene is arranged in interlocked furlongs. On these steep slopes some of the ridge-and-furrow is laid out parallel to the contours. As a result some of it has become partly lynchetted with the ridges having markedly asymmetric profiles.
On the E. side of a steep-sided re-entrant valley S.W. of the village (SP 879646) is a series of flat terraces about 100 m. long with flat treads up to 15 m. across and with risers 1.5 m. high. They may be former strip lynchets, but they appear to have been altered at some period by the cutting of ditches along them. At their S. end a furlong of normal ridge-and-furrow abuts against them.
There is a well-marked headland, some 600 m. long and 20 m. wide, running N.E. from SP 871645 (RAF VAP F22 543/RAF/943, 0195–0101, 0040–6; F21 543/RAF/2409, 0132–5; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0290–1; F21 540/RAF/1312, 0290–3, 0282–7; CPE/UK/2546, 4041–3; air photographs in NMR).