Pages 77-80

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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Table of contents


(OS 1: 10000a SP 67 NW, b SP 67 NE)

The parish covers some 770 hectares and is roughly rectangular, apart from a strange projection from the N.E. which is over 2 km. long but in places only 100 m. wide. The landscape is undulating, cut by the steep-sided valleys of W.-flowing streams, one of which forms the N. boundary. The highest point is the Northampton Sand outcrop in the E. known as Honey Hill which rises to 212 m. above OD. From there the land slopes steeply to about 145 m. and then more gently to 115 m. above OD in the W., across Lias Clay with a few small patches of Boulder Clay.

The four Roman sites in the parish (2–5) have all been revealed by recent field-walking and it seems probable that further fieldwork would uncover other settlements in the area. The main monument in the parish is the deserted village of Elkington (6), the remains of which are still in part preserved.

Prehistoric and Roman

a(1) Mesolithic settlement (SP 636769), in the E. of the parish, on the summit of Honey Hill, on Northampton Sand at 210 m. above OD. A large assemblage of flint tools, including 500 microliths, over 400 scrapers and five picks, have been found here, as well as a few post-Mesolithic objects (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154; 12 (1977), 3–8).

a(2) Roman settlement (?) (SP 626759), in the S. of the parish close to the deserted village (6), on clay at about 150 m. above OD. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154).

a(3) Roman settlement (?) (SP 638768), in the E. of the parish, on Northampton Sand at 200 m. above OD. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154).

a(4) Roman settlement (?) (SP 639771), 400 m. N.E. of (3) and in a similar situation. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154).

a(5) Roman settlement (?) (SP 637775), 700 m. N. of (3), on clay at 180 m. above OD. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154).

Medieval and Later

a(6) Deserted village of Elkington (centred SP 626762; Fig. 63), lies in the centre of the parish, on both sides of a shallow valley, on Lower Lias Clay between 130 m. and 150 m. above OD. Much of the area of the village has been ploughed and what now remains is very fragmentary.

Elkington is first mentioned in Domesday Book where it is listed as three small manors with a total population of 17 (VCH Northants., I (1906), 327, 343, 347). However it is possible that one of these, the manor of Geoffrey de Wirce, with two bordars and described as part of his manor of Welford, was a separate settlement perhaps centred at Elkington Lodge (SP 645777). The land in the very long narrow projection in the N.E. adjoining Welford might have belonged to this manor, which would explain the unusual shape of the parish. In this case all the later population figures would include this assumed settlement as well as Elkington itself. Most of the parish, and apparently all of the village, was given to Pipewell Abbey soon after 1143 and the abbey continued to hold it until the Dissolution. Elkington is mentioned by name in the Nomina Villarum of 1316, and 30 people over the age of 14 paid the Poll Tax in 1377 (PRO, E179/155/27). However in 1412 the parish was described as destitute of all inhabitants save three or four servitors of the monastery, in consequence of pestilences (VCH Northants., II (1906), 119). All the arable land in the parish had been converted to pasture before the Dissolution at which time eight large pastures and a grange were bought by various lay landowners; the grange was presumably on the site of the present Elkington Farm. By 1547, 4000 sheep were grazed in the parish. In 1674 only seven householders paid the Hearth Tax (PRO, E179/259/14) and Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 564), writing in about 1720, said that there were ten houses there, 'seven of which are dispersed in the fields'. The latter, most of which still exist, were presumably all post-Dissolution farmsteads built in the sheep pastures. One, Heggats Lodge (SP 622769), is shown on a map of 1731 (NRO). The same map, which depicts only the N.W. part of the parish, also shows Elkington Farm as well as a house to the S.W. of it and other buildings to the E. and S.E., one of which was probably a watermill. At that time also, the main through road of the parish, still visible as a hollow-way ('a'–'b' on plan), passed to the N. of Elkington Farm. By 1801 the population of the whole parish was 62, though this fell to 43 in 1831 before rising again. There was a church at Elkington, which belonged to Pipewell Abbey, but institutions to it ceased before 1420 and its site is unknown (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants. (1966), 39).

Most of the site was ploughed and levelled in 1970 (DMVRG, 18th Annual Report, (1971), 17) but some destruction had already taken place before 1945. What remains on the ground is fragmentary and air photographs taken from 1945 onwards help to explain the original layout. Before destruction the most notable aspect of the remains was the road system. From Yelvertoft to the W. a broad hollow-way can be traced through the ridge-and-furrow, leading towards Elkington ('c'–'d' on plan). At its E. end ('d' on plan) it appears to split into at least two separate routes. One turned N.E., curving to the N. of the existing buildings and part of this is traceable as a narrow hollow-way ('a'–'b' on plan). Further E. this road appears to have run along the top of a dam ('e' on plan) across the narrow steep-sided valley. Thereafter it swung N.E. and its line around Honey Hill (SP 636779) is marked by a footpath which joins the modern road to Cold Ashby. This section was still the main road to Cold Ashby in 1731. The second branch of the hollow-way from Yelvertoft ('d' on plan) turned S. and crossed a valley on another dam ('f' on plan).

Fig. 63 Elkington (6) Deserted village

The only surviving remains of the village lie to the S. of the main hollow-way ('a'–'b' on plan) and N.E. of Elkington Farm. They consist of some low indeterminate banks, scarps and platforms forming no coherent pattern. On the S. side of the valley, and now completely destroyed by modern cultivation, there was formerly a series of hollow-ways passing between areas of ridge-and-furrow, but with one oval area devoid of ploughing ('g' on plan). No earthworks now remain here, but large amounts of medieval pottery have been found in the area mostly of 12th to 14th-century date. It is possible that this area was once part of the village and was ploughed over after it abandonment. In the valley to the N. are three dams, indicating that there were formerly three large ponds, though these had all gone by 1731 (NRO map). The lowest dam ('f' on plan) is much damaged, but survives up to 1.5 m. high. The central one ('h' on plan) is much larger, up to 2.5 m. high, and the area behind it was known as Dam Meadow in 1731. At that date a building stood below the dam and this may have been a watermill. Further N.E. ('e' on plan), spanning one of two narrow valleys, is a third dam 2 m. high (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 4471–2; 106G/UK/636, 1469–70; CUAP, AGU70–4, XT59, 60; air photographs in NMR).

(7) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed at an unknown date, but presumably during the 15th century after the village was deserted. All the arable land had been converted to pasture before the dissolution of Pipewell Abbey which owned most of the parish; at that time eight large pastures existed. One of these is shown on a map of 1587 (NRO) which depicts most of the N.W. part of the parish. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields survives on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over much of the parish, all of it arranged in generally rectangular end-on and interlocked furlongs. A number of hollow access-ways leading towards the village can be seen, including a well-preserved one from Yelvertoft (SP 611762–725764; partly on Fig. 153; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2468–9, 4471–4; 106G/UK/636, 4167–76).