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 a SP 73 NE, b SP 74 SE, c SP 74 SW)
The large modern parish, formerly a chapelry of Passenham, covers about 1000 hectares and extends from the Great Ouse on the S.E. boundary into Whittlewood Forest in the N. Most of the N. and W. of the parish, between 100 m. and 120 m. above OD, is covered by Boulder Clay but a large area of limestone is exposed in the valley of the small stream on which the village stands, and the lowland in the E., at about 65 m. above OD, is gravel and alluvium. A number of Iron Age and Roman settlements are recorded in the parish.
Prehistoric and Roman
An axe of banded tuff has been found in the village (SP 76263980; NM Records). Roman material, including pottery, floor tiles, wall-plaster, tesserae, glass and animal bones (in BM) said to have come from an excavation of a villa before 1940 may be from a site now lost or from the known villa (3). However, the material is described as from 'near Wakefield Lodge' and may thus be associated with Potterspury (5).
c(1) Iron Age Settlement (SP 73704178), lies in the forested area in the extreme W. of the parish, on Boulder Clay at 118 m. above OD. A quantity of Iron Age pottery was discovered in this area in 1959 (OS Record Cards).
c(2) Iron Age and Roman Settlement (SP 72914204), lies 850 m. N.W. of (1) and in a similar situation. Forest clearance in 1959 revealed a Roman settlement, apparently of late Iron Age origin, covering an area of 30 m. by 90 m. The site was badly damaged but a number of floors were recognised and finds included samian and coarse wares, stone, ash, wall-plaster and coins of Constantine and Valens. (NM; Wolverton and District Arch. Soc. Newsletter, 6 (1961), 3; BNFAS, 1 (1966), 7; OS Record Cards)
a(3) Iron Age Settlement (?) and Roman Villa (SP 770396), lie S.E. of the village, on river gravels at 70 m. above OD. The first excavations on the site, in 1957, revealed a stone-built corridor villa about 30 m. by 15 m. and a group of other buildings around a courtyard. This yard, 75 m. by 60 m., contained a stone-lined pond and evidence of fencing. Some late Iron Age pottery, associated with post-holes of a circular structure, was found to the N. of the villa. Further excavations in 1972 to the E. of the earlier one revealed ditches and gullies containing early Roman pottery, domestic refuse and 1st-century brooches. Other recorded features included three 3rd-century circular structures, between 5 m. and 12 m. in diam., paddocks and compounds, a pond, a T-shaped corn-drying oven, a metal-working hearth and a large barn about 13 m. by 21 m. A silver denarius of Sallustia Barbia Orbiana was found on the site in 1963. (JRS, 48 (1958), 140; Northants. Archit. and Arch. Soc. Reps., 63 (1960–6), 22–8; Britannia, 4 (1973), 294; DOE Arch. Excavations 1972 (1973), 61–62; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 89; 11 (1976), 191; Milton Keynes J. of Arch. and Hist., 3 (1974), 8–9; OS Record Cards)
Medieval and Later
A medieval bronze spout in the form of an animal's head was found in the village in 1972 (NM; Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 20).
b(4) Settlement Remains (SP 757415; Fig. 16), formerly part of the hamlet of Puxley, lie in the N. of the parish, on Boulder Clay and limestone between 90 m. and 98 m. above OD. The settlement is first mentioned in Domesday Book where it is described as two very small estates with a total recorded population of three (VCH Northants., I (1902), 307, 308, 374). There is then no indication of its size as it was always included under Deanshanger and Passenham in the medieval national taxation records except in 1525 when three people in Puxley paid the Lay Subsidy (PRO, E179/155/130). Bridges, writing in about 1720, described Puxley as 'an hamlet of four mean houses on the borders of the forest . . . but formerly a much greater number with one considerable mansion-house called Pokel to which the wardenship of Whittlewood Forest was annexed' (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 309). By 1874 the hamlet contained three farm-houses (Whellan, Dir, 574) and it now consists of ten farms and cottages, mostly of recent date, scattered along the road for about 1 km. The evidence suggests that Puxley was always a small dispersed forest-edge settlement with no obvious centre.
No earthworks survive but finds from the area include medieval pottery, part of a medieval gilt-bronze book fastening and a 13th-century gilt-bronze pendant (NM; Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 166; 11 (1976), 191). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 4243–4)
(5) Cultivation Remains (Fig. 16). The common fields of the parish were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1772. No details of the open fields are known at that date, but on a map of 1600 (NRO) four named fields are shown, South Field to the S.E. of the village, North Field to the N., King's Hill Field to the E. and Deanshanger Field to the W. The N. part of the parish was part of Whittlewood Forest, except around Puxley (4) where there was a group of old enclosures. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced from air photographs over wide areas in the S. of the parish. In the former South Field are large expanses of rectangular furlongs set at right angles to each other (SP 765392 and 771384). Similar ridge-and-furrow exists in the S. part of the former King's Hill Field on either side of the present Stratford Road (SP 772395), but only small fragments survive in the former North and Deanshanger Fields (SP 763404 and 757398).
Ridge-and-furrow is also traceable in a field immediately S. of Grange Farm at Puxley (SP 759413) which was already an old enclosure in 1600. A much larger area of furlongs is visible to the S.E. (SP 765412) in an area which was woodland in 1600. Although one block appears to be exactly straight, lying within the field boundaries, and is thus probably of post-enclosure date, there are also three curved interlocked furlongs of open field form. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/ 1926, 2241–4, 4233–45; CPE/UK/1929, 1183–9, 3183–94; CPE/UK/2097, 3180–5; F21 58/RAF/5517, 0024–9; 2F41, 534/ RAF/1426, 0365–6)