An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 3, Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1981.
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7 BRAMPTON, CHAPEL
(OS 1: 10000 a SP 76 NW, b SP 76 SW)
The modern parish, covering just over 500 hectares, lies W. of the Pitsford Brook which forms the W. boundary. From the brook where a narrow band of Upper Lias Clay is exposed the land rises gently to a maximum height of 122 m. above OD. Most of the S. part of the parish is on Northampton Sand but in the extreme N.W. this is overlaid by glacial deposits. The parish, together with Church Brampton to the W., is remarkable for the large areas of prehistoric and Roman sites visible from the air (1–10). Except for a number of important finds made on the ground almost nothing is known about these cropmarks apart from their approximate extent. The parish, as its name implies, was in medieval times a chapelry of Church Brampton, but the site of the chapel remains unknown.
Prehistoric and Roman
A large flat stone implement, probably of foreign origin, was found in the parish before 1949 (NM). In addition to the flint-working sites listed below small numbers of worked flints have been found at SP 730672 (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5).
Brampton Complex (Chapel Brampton (1–10) and Church Brampton (1–10); Figs. 25 and 26), occupies the greater part of both parishes. Between and to the N. and S. of the two villages there is an almost continuous expanse of cropmarks. covering at least 175 hectares, on Northampton Sand, between 80 m. and 120 m. above OD. From within the area of cropmarks and from the surrounding fields have come objects of Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Saxon date; this lends support to the assumption that the cropmarks themselves represent occupation over a very long period. Although the complex must be viewed as a whole, individual sites and finds are listed under the parish in which they lie.
b(1) Prehistoric and Roman settlements and Roman Kilns (centred SP 729647; Fig. 25), in the extreme S. of the parish, on Northampton Sand between 75 m. and 87 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR; CUAP, ZF19, 20, ZU77, ADP4, AXF12, 13, BYN69–70) show cropmarks covering some 8 hectares. These include at least 14 ring ditches or hut-circles, three double-ditched enclosures, a ditched trackway and numerous linear features. There are also several rectangular enclosures. At the N. end of the site a pit alignment runs N. and may be a continuation of that visible to the N. (2).
A large quantity of worked flints has been found on the ground, including waste flakes, cores and scrapers described as being of Neolithic and Bronze Age type, as well as part of a polished stone axe and three flakes, all of Group VI (NM Records). Iron Age pottery and the upper part of a rotary quern have also been found (SP 729646), apparently within or close to a ditched enclosure (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5; NM; inf. W. R. G. Moore). A scatter of Roman pottery and burnt clay with grass impressions, probably the site of a Roman kiln, was found on the E. edge of the area in 1966 (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 9, wrongly located in Church Brampton parish; inf. W.R. G. Moore).
a(2) Settlement and pit alignment (SP 730651; Fig. 25), 300 m. N. of (1), on Northampton Sand at 85 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR; CUAP, ZV21, ADP2) show a small group of interlocked rectangular enclosures with a number of ring ditches or hut-circles within them, and some small rectangular features. Several early Saxon sherds have been discovered (inf. W. R. G. Moore), and worked flints of Neolithic and Bronze Age type have been found over the site and in the surrounding area. These are listed below (4) (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 32).
ab(3) Settlement (SP 730654; Fig. 25), S. of Brampton Grange, on Northampton Sand at 85 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR; CUAP, ZV21) show rather indistinctly a group of small interlocked enclosures with a short length of pit alignment running S.W. from them. Worked flints of Neolithic and Bronze Age type from the site and the surrounding area are listed below (4) (inf. W. R. G. Moore).
a(4) Flint-Working Sites (centred SP 730652), cover an area of some 26 hectares S. and S.W. of Brampton Grange on Northampton Sand between 70 m. and 100 m. above OD. Some of these may be associated with cropmarks (2) and (3) described above. Over 2000 flints, mainly of Neolithic and Bronze Age type, including waste flakes, scrapers and cores, have been found. The general locations are SP 732654, 729652, 727651 and 727652. To the S.S.E. of Brampton Grange (SP 732652) a large area of mainly Mesolithic flints has been discovered (inf. W. R. G. Moore; OS Record Cards; BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5).
a(5) Linear Ditches (SP 726654; Fig. 25), lie close to the parish boundary with Church Brampton, on Northampton Sand at 100 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a group of linear ditches, but one is a modern pipeline and another an old hedge (not shown on plan). The earlier ditches form no coherent pattern but may be associated with other features immediately to the S.W. (Church Brampton (2)).
a(6) Ring ditch and enclosures (SP 730658; Fig. 26), N. of Brampton Grange, on Northampton Sand at 95 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show one large circular feature, perhaps a ring ditch, with two incomplete rectangular enclosures to the W. and S.E. Worked flints, including scrapers and cores, have been found a little to the S.W. (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5; 5 (1971), 39; 6 (1971), 5–7).
a(7)Ring ditches, enclosures and pit alignment (SP 726658; Figs. 25 and 26), W. of (6), on Northampton Sand at 105 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a pit alignment running W.–E. and traceable for 250 m. It cuts an oval double-ditched enclosure which is also intersected by a small L-shaped length of ditch. To the S. is a rectangular enclosure, and to the N. a double ring ditch which has linear ditches running E. and W. from it. The E. linear ditch appears to intersect several other features including a ditched trackway running S.E. from (8) (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5, 32; 4 (1970), 31).
a(8)Ditched trackway and enclosures (SP 725660; Fig. 26), S.W. of Chapel Brampton village, on Northampton Sand at 110 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show somewhat indistinctly a ditched trackway running E.S.E.–W.N.W. Another trackway possibly continuing from the S. (7) runs N. apparently to meet two other trackways (Chapel Brampton (9) and Church Brampton (10)), just W. of Chapel Brampton village. This trackway is intersected at right-angles by several roughly parallel linear ditches and there are various enclosures and other linear features linked to the trackway or visible in the surrounding area.
a(9) Ditched Trackway, Enclosures, Linear Ditches and flint-working sites (centred SP 722665; Fig. 26), W. and N.W. of Chapel Brampton village, on Northampton Sand between 110 m. and 120 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR; CUAP, ZW38) show a sinuous ditched trackway traceable for more than 500 m. S.E. from Brampton Hill to a point just W. of the village. Here, though little is visible on air photographs, it seems to have met two other trackways approaching the site from the S. (8) and from the W. (Church Brampton (10)). Some short ditches and a small rectangular enclosure are visible to the S.W. of the assumed junction and other indeterminate ditches to the N. To the N.W. (SP 722665) there is a large, well-marked rectangular enclosure with rounded corners and entrances in the S.E. and N.E. sides; it has a small internal enclosure in its E. corner. Linear ditches run to the S.E. Further N.W., on both sides of the trackway, are further traces of rectangular and irregular enclosures. The trackway can be traced to the W. of Brampton Hill (at SP 717667) where a short length of it, intersected by a linear feature, is visible on air photographs. This trackway was cut obliquely by a pipe-line trench in 1970 (at SP 72226644). The ditches were said to be 3 m.–4 m. wide at the top and almost 2 m. deep. No dating evidence or metalling was discovered between the ditches (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 2). Worked flints, including cores and scrapers, have been found over the area around the large enclosure (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5; 4 (1970), 31; inf. W. R. G. Moore).
a(10) Bronze Age Cemetery (SP 72276645; Fig. 26), immediately S.E. of a large enclosure (9), on Northampton Sand at 112 m. above OD. The site was completely excavated in 1970–1 and proved to be a middle Bronze Age cemetery with some 25 cremations. About half of these were in bucket urns, one of which was in a rectangular cist of sandstone slabs and contained a bead and a plain bronze bracelet. Two radiocarbon dates were obtained from the material, one of 1114 bc± 120 from a cremation pit and one of 1296 bc ± 100 from another, charcoal-filled pit (DOE Arch. Excavations 1971, (1972), 52; BNFAS, 5 (1971), 1; Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 3).
a(11) Flint-working Site (centred SP 720677), N.E. of Sanders Covert, on Boulder Clay between 90 m. and 100 m. above OD. Worked flints, including one leaf-shaped and one barbed-and-tanged arrowhead, have been found over an area of about 4 hectares (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 5; inf. W. R. G. Moore). Air photographs (in NMR) show the rather indistinct cropmarks of a rectangular enclosure covering 0.5 hectares in the centre of the area. At least one linear ditch runs N.E.–S.W. across the S.E. side of the site.
a(12) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 729680), in the extreme N.E. of the parish, on gravel at 75 m. above OD. Roman pottery and a few worked flints have been discovered on the ground and cropmarks of enclosures are said to have been seen from the air (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 9).
Medieval and Later
For early Saxon pottery, see (2).
a(13) Settlement remains and hollow-way (SP 731663), lie immediately E. of Chapel Brampton village, on land sloping down to a small S.– flowing stream, on Northampton Sand at 75 m. above OD. The earthworks lie within the former park of the now demolished Chapel Brampton Hall. The main feature is a hollow-way 10 m.–12 m. wide, as much as 1.5 m. deep below the land to the N. but only 0.5 m. deep below that to the S. It runs down the hillside to the stream and marks the line of the original street which ran to Pitsford from the cross-roads at the S. end of the village. This existed in 1584 (Map in NRO; Plate 15) but was probably closed when the park was made. It was still in use in the early 19th century as the only road across the valley to Pitsford (OS 1st ed. 1 in. map, (1834)). Along the present Pitsford road, to the S. of the hollow-way, is a series of embanked enclosures and platforms the S. ends of which are cut by the road. These may be the sites of former buildings and closes though no buildings are shown here on the map of the parish of 1584.
(14) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by agreement in 1662 (NRO). A map of 1584 (NRO; Plate 15) shows three fields, Middle, Nether and Rie, as well as areas of old enclosures. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs only in the N. and E. of the parish, largely on the heavier soils. It is rare or completely absent on the lighter Northampton Sand in the S. of the parish. In the extreme N.W. of the parish, in the former Middle Field, the pattern of the ridge-and-furrow is almost completely recoverable, comprising mainly rectangular interlocked furlongs, many of reversed-S form. These, in sharp contrast to the layout on the more broken country to the W., are not always laid out at right-angles to the slope; this applies in particular to some furlongs close to the N. and W. boundaries (e.g. SP 720680 and 732672), where the ridges run parallel to the streams. However around the low isolated Hoe Hill in the N. of the parish (SP 725678), at the extreme N. end of Nether Field, the ridges radiate outwards from the summit. To the S.E. of the village (SP 733660) only one small area of ridge-and-furrow is traceable in the former Rie Field (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2250–1, 2369–70, 4253–7, 4732–6).