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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(OS 1: 10000 a SP 66 NW, b SP 66 NE, c SP 66 SW, d SP 66 SE)
The parish, covering just over 1250 hectares, is roughly rectangular with a large projection in the S.E. Most of it is an undulating plateau between 120 m. and 130 m. above OD, mainly on glacial sands and gravels, with the underlying Jurassic Clay exposed in the N. and E.
The medieval parish included the now deserted settlement of Althorp (Althorp (1)) and its land, now a separate parish, as well as three other settlements, Great Brington, Little Brington and Nobottle (4). The land of Nobottle was presumably the present S.E. projection of the parish. Part of the land of the deserted village of Glassthorpe (Flore (4)) also lay within this parish (Fig. 73).
Prehistoric and roman
b(1) Enclosure (?) and ditches (SP 659657), in the N. of the parish, on Northampton Sand at 120 m. above OD. Air photographs taken in 1970 (not seen by RCHM) are said to show two lengths of curving ditch possibly with a small sub-rectangular enclosure to the S.W. (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 5).
d(2) Enclosures and ring ditches (?) (centred SP 67756185; Fig. 30), in the S. of the parish immediately N. of Harpole Covert, on Northampton Sand at 137 m. above OD. Air photographs show, very indistinctly, at least three conjoined sub-rectangular enclosures and other lengths of ditch which may be parts of further enclosures. There is a small ring ditch in the S.W. of the area (SP 67716182). A larger ring ditch, 15 m. in diam., shows as a parch-mark (SP 67686198; BNFAS, 5 (1971), 41).
For Roman Road 17, see Appendix.
Medieval and Later
d(3) Settlement remains and hollow-ways (SP 671632), formerly part of the hamlet of Nobottle, lie around and N. of Townsend Farm at the head of a S.-draining valley on Northampton Sand and Boulder Clay between 110 m. and 135 m. above OD. The settlement gave its name to the Hundred of Nobottle Grove. The meeting place of the Hundred was therefore presumably near it and indeed it has been plausibly suggested that the field 'Harrow Hill' which lies just N.W. of the hamlet on the summit of a ridge (SP 669633) is the site of the Hundred meeting place (PN Northants., 78, 280; BNFAS, 5 (1971), 44).
Little is known of the history of Nobottle but its name, 'new building', indicates that it may be a relatively late settlement in the area (PN Northants., 80). It is first noted in 1086 when Domesday Book lists it with a recorded population of nine (VCH Northants., I (1902), 337). Thereafter nothing is known of its size until 1673 when eleven people paid the Hearth Tax (PRO, E179/254/14). Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 472), writing in about 1720, said there were twelve houses there. Today the hamlet is much the same size, though its houses are somewhat scattered.
The earthworks fall into two parts. The more extensive are perhaps the remains of former settlement in Nobottle itself and include a large sub-rectangular enclosure on the N. side of the hamlet (SP 671632), bounded on the N. and W. by a bank and inner ditch and on the S. by a low scarp. The latter has been said to be connected with the Roman road which crosses the area at this point but this is unlikely (see Appendix). The enclosure is divided internally into four closes bounded by shallow ditches. To the S., along both sides of the track leading S. to Glassthorpe and Flore (SP 672630), are other more indeterminate earthworks, mainly rectangular closes bounded by low banks and shallow ditches, some of which have later ridge-and-furrow within them. All may be sites of former houses and crofts.
The other earthworks are hollow-ways which may be connected, at least in part, with the existence of the Hundred meeting place here. In the centre of the hamlet, at the point where the Glassthorpe track meets the main road between Whilton and Northampton, a broad hollow-way runs N. across a pasture field, continuing the line of the track and forming the E. boundary of the large enclosure noted above. This hollow-way turns and climbs the hill in a broad curve (SP 672632) and at this point there are several deeply cut hollows up to 1.5 m. deep. It is possible that the line of these hollow-ways was determined by early enclosures here, for the S. side of the hollow-way is bounded by a low bank 0.5 m. high. The hollow-ways run into the modern road to Harlestone, just below the assumed site of the Hundred meeting place (Air photographs in NMR).
d(4) Settlement remains (centred SP 661636), formerly part of Little Brington, survive in two places in the present village. On the S. side of the main E.–W. street (SP 661637) are two empty plots with traces of abandoned buildings within them. These were both devoid of houses in 1840 (NRO, Tithe Map). At the S.W. end of the village, behind the existing houses (SP 659635), a small close still retains its original W. side, with a modern hedge outside it. A bank 1.25 m. high is visible.
(5) Cultivation remains. The common fields of Great and Little Brington were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1742. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over large areas of the parish, arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs. A particularly well preserved block of it, cut into by later quarrying, exists in pasture S.W. of Great Brington (SP 662645). In the same area is a reversed-S furlong (SP 664646), orientated N.–S., which has remarkably high terminations at the S. ends of the ridges. These are large sub-rectangular mounds, up to 1.25 m. high, which would seem to have prevented a plough from turning. Their function and method of formation are not clear.
The date of the enclosure of the common fields of Nobottle is unknown, but was before 1840 (NRO, Tithe Map). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over much of the land attributable to Nobottle. It is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs and, S. of Nobottle itself, is well preserved in pasture, laid out around a number of small spurs.
The small area of land in the S. of the parish (centred SP 667630) which was part of the territory of the deserted village of Glassthorpe (Flore (4)) also has ridge-and-furrow within it. Three furlongs immediately S. and S.W. of Grange Farm (SP 669628) run across both the modern and the medieval parish boundary lines, which do not quite coincide (NRO, Tithe Maps of Glassthorpe, 1850, and Brington, 1840; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1261–3, 2361–3, 2256–62, 3349–55, 4260–5, 4364–8).
d(6) Mound (SP 65256348), lies on the N. side of the road to Whilton on glacial gravel at 130 m. above OD. It is 7 m. in diam. and 0. 5 m. high and lies across the assumed line of the Roman Road 17; the present road is diverted around it. It stands on the end of a block of ridge-and-furrow orientated N.–S. and is probably medieval or later though this is not certain (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 1).