An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 4, Archaeological Sites in South-West Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1982.
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(OS 1:10000 SP 65 NE)
The parish, of irregular form, covers some 910 hectares of land on the S. side of the R. Nene which forms its short N. boundary. Most of the parish is an undulating plain of clay between 70 m. and 90 m. above OD, across which the Bug Brook flows N.E. and then N. to join the R. Nene. In the extreme S. of the parish the land rises steeply to Bugbrooke Downs which are capped by Northampton Sand at 120 m. above OD.
Prehistoric and Roman
A polished stone axe of Group VI (Langdale) type was found in the parish before 1904 (NM; T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants. (1904), II: PPS, 28 (1962), 262, No. 982). A quartzite pebble with a central hour-glass perforation, probably a mace, was found in 1973 (SP 67675768; NM; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 83). A large saucer quern was discovered during ploughing in 1973 (SP 65415662; Northants. Archaeol., 13 (1978), 178).
(1) Ring Ditches (SP 661566), in the S.W. of the parish, on the S.E. edge of a high flat-topped plateau of Northampton Sand at 125 m. above OD. Air photographs (NCAU) show one ring ditch 15 m. in diam. and indistinct traces of at least three others in the immediate area.
(2) Enclosures and Ditches (SP 671562), in the S. of the parish, close to a small N.-flowing stream, on Marlstone Rock at 80 m. above OD. Air photographs (NCAU) show very indistinctly two small circular conjoined enclosures 10 m. in diam., possibly hut-sites, set inside an incomplete circular feature 50 m. wide. Traces of linear ditches are visible around and intersecting the circular feature.
(3) Roman Settlement (SP 686567), S.E. of the village, on Upper Lias Clay at 94 m. above OD. A scatter of Roman pottery, fragments of tile and building stone, some dressed, was found in 1975 (Northants. Archaeol., 11 (1976), 186).
For Roman Road 1f, Watling Street, see Appendix.
Medieval and Later
No medieval earthworks have been recorded in the village of Bugbrooke but the village plan is unusual with a single street on the E. of the stream and an almost isolated church on the W. (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1779). The area around the church, still mainly permanent pasture, might well repay excavation in the future in order to establish the origins of the village.
(4) Fishponds (SP 675576), lie N. of the village, immediately W. of the manor house, on the E. side of the Bug Brook, on Middle Lias Clay at 76 m. above OD. Three sunken rectangular ponds 1.5 m. deep, set roughly at right angles to each other and linked by narrow channels, lie close to the brook. The northernmost is 20 m. by 8 m., the central one 40 m. by 12 m. and the southernmost 22 m. by 20 m. The latter has a large outer bank on its S. and W. sides. A broad curving bank 12 m. wide and 1.5 m. high lies immediately to the S. At the N. end of the area two parallel ditches up to 10 m. wide, 1.5 m. deep and 15 m.–20 m. apart extend up the valley sides. The earthworks must be associated with Manor Farm and the fishponds are presumably medieval in date. (Air photographs in NMR)
(5) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1779 (NRO, Enclosure Map). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over almost the entire parish with the exception of a wide strip of floodable meadowland along the R. Nene in the N. and on the high parts of Bugbrooke Downs in the S.E. No doubt it once existed in the latter area but modern cultivation has removed all traces from the light sandy soils.
On the gently undulating land which makes up most of the parish the ridge-and-furrow is arranged in end-on or interlocked furlongs, many of markedly reversed-S form. Some extremely large headlands up to 12 m. wide and 0.5 m. high survive (e.g. SP 679584), and at least two of them between end-on furlongs have been over-ploughed at some time in order to make the two furlongs into one (SP 673580 and 678568). A small area of narrow ridge-and-furrow presumably of the 18th or 19th century formerly lay immediately N. of the manor house (SP 677577). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 4035–7, 5034–40; CPE/UK/1994, 1172–6, 3161–6; 3G/TUD/UK/118, 6030–5, 6047–53; FSL6603, 2379–84)
(6) Burials (unlocated, but apparently in the village), found about 1840 during the 'levelling of a hill'. Several human skulls, 'together with a crocodile in a petrified state' were discovered as well as horseshoes. A human skeleton with a severed head is also recorded (Whellan, Dir., 303). No date or function can be suggested for these oddly assorted finds, though the site has been interpreted as a 'tumulus' (T.J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants. (1904), 11).