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 75 SE, b SP 74 NE)
The long narrow parish covers just over 450 hectares and extends N.E. from the R. Tovc on the S.W. boundary, at 75 m. above OD, to the edges of Salcey Forest, at 130 m. above OD. The N.E. half is covered by Boulder Clay but in the S. bands of Oolitic Limestone and patches of Upper Lias Clay are exposed. The settlement remains (3) are of interest in that they suggest that the village has had a history much more complex than appears at first sight.
Prehistoric and Roman
Three Roman coins were found near the manor house in about 1948. One was silver, of Vespasian, and the others were bronze (OS Record Cards).
a(1) Enclosure (SP 782512), lies in the E. of the parish immediately N. of Rowley Wood, on Boulder Clay, at about 116 m. above OD. Air photographs (CUAP, BGC69. and in NMR) show cropmarks of a sub-rectangular enclosure with rounded ends, covering about 0.5 hectares. To the E. at least one other enclosure is faintly visible on some of the available air photographs. (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 173)
Medieval and Later
ab(2) Moat (SP 764500; Fig. 24), lies immediately N. of the village, on land sloping steeply S., on Oolitic Lime-stone and Upper Lias Clay at 90 m. above OD. In 1874 Whellan (Dir., 561) recorded that the manor house had stood 'north of the church . . . surrounded by a broad deep moat' but the remains have been badly damaged and the ditch partly filled. A level, oval platform, about 45 m. by 40 m., is bounded on the W., S. and E. by a wide ditch, 2 m. deep on the downhill side but only 1 m. deep on the uphill side. On the N. the original ditch and platform appear to have been cut back into the hillside but the ditch has apparently been filled in at this point. Only a scarp 0.25 m. high marks its outer edge. The manor house standing within the moat appears to be of 16th and 17th-century date but the earliest depiction of the site is on a map of 1768 (NRO); the moat was then water-filled on the S. and E. sides. The map also shows a long narrow pond running E.-W. on the line of, but detached from, the S. part of the moat (SP 76515002–76575001), and a second pond to the S. (SP 76404994–76454994). Both have been destroyed but a low scarp marks the N. edge of the southernmost pond.
ab(3) Settlement Remains (centred SP 765500), formerly part of the village of Ashton, lie in and around the village, on Upper Lias Clay between 75 m. and 90 m. above OD. The village now has a rather amorphous plan, made difficult to understand by the massive embankment of the London-Birmingham railway which cuts through the village. However, early maps (NRO, 1729, 1768 and 1819) show a more understandable though still complex plan made up of two distinct parts. In the N.E., set around the moated manor house (2) and the church, was an irregular arrangement of streets, now Roade Hill and Stoke Road. To the S. and E. was a separate part of the village, with a generally L-shaped plan, made up of streets and lanes laid out at right angles to each other and bounded on the S.E. by the present Hartwell Road. On the N.W. side was a small green. Construction of the railway and other changes in the 19th century led to the abandonment of part of this rectangular pattern and to encroachment over most of the green. Traces of one of the original lanes in this part of the village, still in use in 1819, survive on either side of the railway line (SP 76744988 and 76854995) but only as a degraded hollow-way partly occupied by a stream. Disturbed areas of ground, the sites of buildings still standing in 1729 or 1819, exist in a number of places (e.g. SP 78484988, 76055003). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1245–6)
b(4) Site of Watermill (?) and Ponds (SP 769501), lie immediately N.E. of the village, in the bottom of a small valley draining S.E., on Upper Lias Clay at 85 m. above OD. The valley is spanned by the remains of a large earthen dam, up to 20 m. wide and 2 m. high, which formerly created a trapezoidal pond nearly 2 hectares in extent. The present stream flows through a gap in the centre of the dam; on either side of it, below the dam, an area of uneven ground marks the site of a building, perhaps a watermill, shown there in 1729 (map in NRO). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1245–6)
b(5) Earthworks (SP 761501), lie immediately N.W. of the village, in a steep-sided valley drained by a S.-flowing stream, on limestone between 83 m. and 90 m. above OD. On both sides of the valley, covering some 6 hectares, is a system of low banks and ditches extending down the slope and forming a pattern resembling abandoned closes of deserted villages or settlement remains. However, there are no indications of occupation within these closes or of any obvious trackway approaching them. There are extensive later quarry pits in the area. No function or date can be assigned to these earthworks, but they may be potentially important in the history of Ashton village. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1244–5; air photographs in NMR)
(6) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1816 (NRO. Draft Enclosure Map, 1817–18). The map shows four named fields, Warren Field in the N.W., Breach Field in the N.E., South Field in the S.W. and Bossenham Field in the S.E.; the latter included a small part of the parish which is now in Hartwell. The same four fields are shown on an earlier map (NRO, 1768). Very little of the ridge-and-furrow of these fields survives or can be traced from air photographs. There is one block W. of Ashton Lodge (SP 771508) known as Nether Furlong on the 19th-century map, and another N. of Bozenham Mill (SP 767484). Of a small group of end-on and interlocked furlongs W. of the village, some were on land shown as old enclosures in both 1768 and 1817 (SP 761498). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1243–6, 1019–26; 106C/UK/1562, 4086–9; FSL 6565, 1001– 5)