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 44 NE, b SP 54 NW)
The parish, of only 530 hectares, lies against the Oxfordshire boundary, with the R. Cherwell to the N. and a small tributary of that river on the E. The highest part is in the S.W. where a flat-topped hill of Northampton Sand, capped by rocks of the Lower Estuarine Series, reaches a height of 175 m. above OD. From this hill the land slopes N. and E. to the Cherwell and its tributary, across gently undulating country and in some places steep scarps, on Lias clay and Marlstone Rock between 150 m. and 100 m. above OD. The major monument in the parish is the deserted village of Edgcote (1).
A large quantity of Roman pottery said to range in date across the whole of the Roman period has been found somewhere in the parish (OS Record Cards). It is perhaps to be associated with the Roman villa on the other side of the R. Cherwell (Chipping Warden (3)).
Medieval and Later
The Battle of Danesmoor took place in the W. of the parish in 1469, but has left no visible remains. The site was said to be marked by three small mounds (Whellan, Dir., 453) but these do not now exist (see also Chipping Warden (4)).
b(1) Deserted Village of Edgcote (SP 503480; Fig. 50; Plate 4), lies immediately W. and N.W. of Edgcote House, on Middle Lias Clay between 113 m. and 125 m. above OD. Edgcote is first mentioned in Domesday Book where it is listed as a two-hide manor held by Walchelin of the Bishop of Coutances, with a recorded population of 25 (VCH Northants., I (1902), 310). In 1301 57 people paid the Lay Subsidy (PRO, E179/155/31) and Edgcote is mentioned by name in the Nomina Villarum of 1316. The village paid 71 shillings in tax in 1334, one of the largest amounts in the county for villages later to be deserted (PRO, E179/ 155/3), and 95 people over the age of 14 paid the Poll Tax in 1377 (PRO, E179/155/128). In 1502 240 acres of arable and pasture land were enclosed and nine houses destroyed, and by 1547 500 sheep were grazing on the manor. However, in 1524 there were still 16 taxpayers in the village (PRO, E179/254/14). Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 117), writing in about 1720, said that some 18 families lived at Edgcote. The present Edgcote House was built in 1747–52 on the site of an older one and, it is said, within the village. However a plan of 1710 (in Edgcote House) showing the house with gardens to the E. depicts the church within the garden. Unfortunately the map does not include the land to the S.W. of the house and church and thus no details of the village at that time are known. Between 1761 and 1788 the village was demolished by the Lord of the Manor, to make way for the landscaped park to the W. of the house; two new farms and seven cottages were erected elsewhere in the parish (G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 405). By 1801 the parish had a population of 66. (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 38)
The rather fragmentary remains of the village support the evidence from documents and suggest that the village was a relatively large one with some abandonment at an early date followed by deliberate clearance in the 18th century. The site can be divided into four separate parts. Immediately W. of Edgcote House and the church ('a' on plan) is an area of indeterminate earthworks. These are very faint, perhaps because they represent that part of the village which was deliberately moved in the 18th century. A broad depression extending N.W. in the S. part of the area may be a former hollow-way. Further N., on either side of the drive to Chipping Warden ('b' on plan), the earthworks are better preserved. To the W. of the drive is a series of rectangular closes bounded by scarps up to 1 m. high, and to the E. of the drive is another possible hollow-way, running N. and blocked by a later scarp. The rather uneven land to the S.E. appears to be at least in part spoil dumped in the area, perhaps as a result of the 18th-century clearance.
Further E. again ('c' on plan) a broad hollow-way 1 m.– 1.5 m. deep extends N.E. down the hillside and then divides into three separate trackways before fading out. On the S.W. of the site ('d' on plan) there was formerly an extensive area of earthworks but these have now been destroyed by modern cultivation. Air photographs taken before this destruction (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1068–70; F21 58/RAF/3963, 0008–9; in NMR) suggest that the hollowway noted above, S. of 'a', continued N.W., with a number of closes on its S.W. side. However, the details are not clear. When this area is ploughed it produces considerable amounts of stone-rubble, animal bones and pottery ranging in date from the 12th to the 18th century.
(2) Cultivation Remains (Fig. 51). The final date of enclosure of the common fields of Edgcote is unknown. In 1502, 120 acres of arable land together with another 120 of pasture were enclosed (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants. (1966), 38) and the parish had been completely enclosed before 1720 (J. Bridges, Hist of Northants., I (1791), 117). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over large areas. On the lower, flatter ground close to the R. Cherwell and the tributary stream which forms the E. boundary of the parish the furlongs are rectangular and interlocked. On the sloping ground further S. and S.W., along the E. and S.E. sides of Edgcote Hill, the furlongs radiate outwards across the contours. In the permanent pasture around Edgcote House and in the parkland to the S. the ridge-and-furrow is very well preserved in spite of a large area of later shallow quarrying. Here high ridges with marked reversed-S curves, headlands and access-ways all still exist. In the W. of the parish, in and around Ladshill Spinney and Hay Spinney (SP 502470), the underlying Upper Lias Clay has slipped down the hillside to produce a rippled appearance on the ground (Fig. 51). In most places the adjacent ridge-and-furrow stops short of these landslips, presumably because they were too difficult to cultivate in medieval times, but in two places the ridge-and-furrow runs over the landslips. To the E. of Hay Spinney (SP 499470) ridge-and-furrow running at right angles to the contours rides over the landslips, and to the S.E. (SP 505468) ridge-and-furrow is arranged along the contours on the terraces of two massive parallel landslips. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1066–71; 106G/UK/721, 3000–4); CPE/UK/ 1994, 1102–3; F21 58/RAF/3963, 0008–0011)