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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31 HARROWDEN, GREAT
(OS 1:10000 a SP 87 SE, b SP 86 NE)
The parish lies immediately N. of Wellingborough and W. of the R. Ise which forms its E. boundary. It covers about 560 hectares, an irregular, narrow strip of land sloping generally E. between 45 m. and 107 m. above OD. The N. and S. boundaries of the parish follow E.— flowing streams whose deeply cut valleys are floored by extensive areas of Upper Lias Clay. The resulting E.—W. ridge is largely of Northampton Sand, overlain by Upper Estuarine Clays and Limestones on the higher W. parts. The major monument is the large Iron Age and Roman settlement (7) to the W. of the village, which is partly overlaid by medieval occupation (10). The latter is part of an earlier village layout which was probably abandoned in the late medieval period. The present road pattern is the result of major changes in the alignment of the main through-road between 1781 and 1838.
Prehistoric and Roman
An axe or 'head' of 'greenish stone' was found in the parish before 1847 (lost; JBAA, 2 (1847), 203). Two Roman coins (lost) are also recorded (NM Records).
a(1) Flint-Working Site (SP 893708), S.S.E. of Great Harrowden Lodge, on sand at 66 m. above OD. An extensive scatter of worked flints, including blades and scrapers as well as two unfinished arrowheads, has been found (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 4). Air photographs (in NMR) show a number of indeterminate cropmarks, most of which appear to be caused by frost-wedging.
a(2) Double Ring Ditch (SP 89357110), N. of Ann's Wood, on sand at 66 m. above OD. The ditches are 23 m. and 16 m. in diam. There are slight indications of other cropmarks in the same area (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Great Harrowden (1); Air photographs in NMR).
a(3) Roman Settlement (SP 863702; Fig. 76), in the far S.W. of the parish, on sand and clay at 100 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a series of conjoined enclosures. From the same area a large amount of stone, tiles and Roman pottery has been discovered (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 13–14, listed under Little Harrowden; 6 (1971), 12. Great Harrowden (3)).
a(4) Enclosure (SP 862701; Fig. 76), immediately S.W. of (3), on Boulder Clay at 100 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a small rectangular enclosure with another at its N. corner.
a(5) Enclosure (SP 881712; Fig. 77), N. of the village, on sand at 76 m. above OD. Air photographs (CUAP, ABV 57) show, rather indistinctly, a large rectangular enclosure with a small square one in the N.E. corner.
a(6) Iron Age Settlement (?) (SP 883711), 250 m. S.E. of (5) in a similar position. A number of pits and ditches containing Iron Age pottery have been found during construction work on a golf course (inf. P. Foster; see also (11)).
a(7) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (centred SP 876708; Fig. 77), occupies a large area immediately W. of the village, on limestone and clay at 98 m. above OD, in part overlain by the remains of the medieval village and moat (10). It is visible on air photographs (in NMR; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11–12, Great Harrowden (2)). The site falls into two distinct parts: (a) (SP 875707), a complex of interlocking enclosures with a possible entrance from the S. To the N.E. is a group of penannular ring ditches, possible hut-circles. The whole group is surrounded by lengths of linear ditch forming no clear pattern. Roman and some medieval pottery as well as worked flints have been found on the site (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 10). A little to the S. (at SP 875707) Iron Age pottery and burnt cobbles have been discovered (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). From the S. side of the site two parallel ditches, perhaps a trackway, are visible running E. to (b) (SP 878707), immediately W. and S. of the moat (10), a complex series of ditches and enclosures of no coherent plan, but with at least two possible ditched trackways. Some appear to underlie the moat and may be medieval. The main E.–W. trackway passes to the S. of the area. Within these cropmarks (at SP 877707) an extensive scatter of Roman pottery and roof tiles has been discovered (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). Part of the cropmarks S. of the moat are certainly medieval and later, especially the roughly parallel curving ditches on the S.E. which are the remains of a road which was still in existence in 1754 (NRO, Map of Harrowden). Near the moat a 'walled cemetery, bones, sherds and a coin, possibly of Maximianus' were found before 1837 (J. Cole, Hist. and Ants. of Wellingborough, (1837), 138).
a(8) Roman Settlement (SP 880710; Fig. 77), 180 m. N.W. of the church on limestone at 91 m. above OD and perhaps an extension of (7). A number of pits containing Roman pottery were discovered during building development (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). A linear ditch visible on air photographs (in NMR) approaches the site from the W., divides and encloses it. The E. part of these remains, including the enclosure, were upstanding earthworks in 1947 and are likely to be medieval or later close boundaries, perhaps on the line of an older boundary (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 2241–2).
Medieval and Later
a(9) Mound (SP 87297075), S.W. of the village, on clay at 95 m. above OD. A slight mound, 10 m. in diam. and 1.2 m. high, apparently overlies a headland between two end-on furlongs of the common fields of the parish (13). Its date and purpose are unknown.
a(10) Settlement Remains and Moat (SP 879707; Fig. 77; Plate 12), immediately S.W. of the church, on clay at 98 m. above OD. The whole site has been destroyed by ploughing and the only information comes from air photographs, taken both before and after destruction, and OS maps (on which Fig. 77 is based), showing approximately the original form. There appears to have been a small rectangular enclosure, 90 m. E.—W. by 60 m. N.—S., surrounded by a moat up to 10 m. across. Within it only a large pond orientated N.—S. is known to have existed. On the E. and N. sides of the moat there appear to have been other ditched enclosures, while a long broad ditch runs E.—W., S. of the moat, and seems to have been a hollow-way for it is shown as a road on a map of Great Harrowden of 1754 (NRO). The moat was already abandoned by that date. Many of the cropmarks in the surrounding area may be, in part, of medieval date, associated with this road and its extension S.E. and N.W. (Plate 12). N.W. of the church (at SP 800710) there was in 1947 a series of embanked enclosures, now visible as cropmarks. Though the Roman settlement (7) lies within them they are undoubtedly of medieval date. When the site was destroyed in 1965 by ploughing, masonry and rough foundations of re-used stone were revealed. A small excavation led to the discovery of a two-roomed building and a circular stone structure (DMVRG, 14th Annual Report, (1966), 24; Med. Arch., 11 (1967), 308; BNFAS, 3 (1969), 23; Air photographs in NMR; CUAP, BEN 61; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 2240–3).
a(11) Settlement Remains (?) (SP 88157110), immediately N. of Harrowden Hall on sand at 84 m. above OD. Large quantities of medieval and postmedieval pottery were found here during the construction of a golf course (Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 105; NM).
a(12) Enclosures and Pond (centred SP 885712), within Harrowden Park, on clay at about 85 m. above OD. There is a series of low banks in an area surrounded by ridge-and-furrow. A rectangular pond (at SP 88437102) is marked on a map of 1754 (NRO), and the three-sided sub-rectangular enclosure immediately S. of Duke's Covert (SP 886712), covering some 2 hectares and bounded by a low bank and shallow external ditch, was the boundary of a large wood in 1754 and 1781 (Maps in NRO).
(13) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the common fields of the parish is not known but it had already taken place by 1754 (Map in NRO). Ridge-and-furrow remains on the ground or can be traced from air photographs over almost all of the parish. Most of it is in interlocked furlongs though some blocks are arranged end-on to each other. Some are of reversed-S form, e.g. in Hardwick Pastures (at SP 897703), or C-curved (at SP 875701). There are several well-marked headlands, following the same general orientation, W.S.W.—E.N.E., as the fine examples in Little Harrowden, Orlingbury and Wellingborough. They are up to 500 m. long and 25 m. wide and some are less than 100 m. apart, e.g. a group in the W. of the parish, centred SP 865700, and a pair N. of the village at SP 880715 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1351–60, 3351– 7, 2238–45. 4237–8; F21 540/RAF/1312, 0246–52, 0204–9; 541/611, 3064–70).