31 HARROWDEN, GREAT
(OS 1:10000 a SP 87 SE, b SP 86 NE)
The parish lies immediately N. of Wellingborough and W.
of the R. Ise which forms its E. boundary. It covers
about 560 hectares, an irregular, narrow strip of land
sloping generally E. between 45 m. and 107 m. above
OD. The N. and S. boundaries of the parish follow E.—
flowing streams whose deeply cut valleys are floored by
extensive areas of Upper Lias Clay. The resulting E.—W.
ridge is largely of Northampton Sand, overlain by Upper
Estuarine Clays and Limestones on the higher W. parts.
The major monument is the large Iron Age and Roman
settlement (7) to the W. of the village, which is partly
overlaid by medieval occupation (10). The latter is part
of an earlier village layout which was probably abandoned in the late medieval period. The present road
pattern is the result of major changes in the alignment
of the main through-road between 1781 and 1838.
Prehistoric and Roman
An axe or 'head' of 'greenish stone' was found in the
parish before 1847 (lost; JBAA, 2 (1847), 203). Two
Roman coins (lost) are also recorded (NM Records).
a(1) Flint-Working Site (SP 893708), S.S.E.
of Great Harrowden Lodge, on sand at 66 m. above OD.
An extensive scatter of worked flints, including blades
and scrapers as well as two unfinished arrowheads, has
been found (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 4). Air photographs (in
NMR) show a number of indeterminate cropmarks,
most of which appear to be caused by frost-wedging.
a(2) Double Ring Ditch (SP 89357110), N. of
Ann's Wood, on sand at 66 m. above OD. The ditches
are 23 m. and 16 m. in diam. There are slight indications
of other cropmarks in the same area (BNFAS, 6 (1971),
11, Great Harrowden (1); Air photographs in NMR).
a(3) Roman Settlement (SP 863702; Fig. 76),
in the far S.W. of the parish, on sand and clay at 100 m.
above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a series of
conjoined enclosures. From the same area a large
amount of stone, tiles and Roman pottery has been
discovered (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 13–14, listed under
Little Harrowden; 6 (1971), 12. Great Harrowden (3)).
Fig. 76 Great Harrowden
(3) Roman settlement and (4) Enclosure
a(4) Enclosure (SP 862701; Fig. 76), immediately
S.W. of (3), on Boulder Clay at 100 m. above OD. Air
photographs (in NMR) show a small rectangular enclosure
with another at its N. corner.
a(5) Enclosure (SP 881712; Fig. 77), N. of the
village, on sand at 76 m. above OD. Air photographs
(CUAP, ABV 57) show, rather indistinctly, a large
rectangular enclosure with a small square one in the N.E.
a(6) Iron Age Settlement (?) (SP 883711),
250 m. S.E. of (5) in a similar position. A number of
pits and ditches containing Iron Age pottery have been
found during construction work on a golf course (inf. P.
Foster; see also (11)).
Fig. 77 Great Harrowden (5) Enclosure, (7) Iron Age and Roman settlement,
(8) Roman settlement, (10) Settlement remains and moat
a(7) Iron Age and Roman Settlement
(centred SP 876708; Fig. 77), occupies a large area immediately W. of the village, on limestone and clay at 98
m. above OD, in part overlain by the remains of the
medieval village and moat (10). It is visible on air photographs (in NMR; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11–12, Great
Harrowden (2)). The site falls into two distinct parts: (a)
(SP 875707), a complex of interlocking enclosures with
a possible entrance from the S. To the N.E. is a group of
penannular ring ditches, possible hut-circles. The
whole group is surrounded by lengths of linear ditch
forming no clear pattern. Roman and some medieval
pottery as well as worked flints have been found on the
site (BNFAS, 2 (1967), 10). A little to the S. (at SP
875707) Iron Age pottery and burnt cobbles have been
discovered (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). From the S. side of
the site two parallel ditches, perhaps a trackway, are
visible running E. to (b) (SP 878707), immediately W.
and S. of the moat (10), a complex series of ditches
and enclosures of no coherent plan, but with at least
two possible ditched trackways. Some appear to underlie
the moat and may be medieval. The main E.–W.
trackway passes to the S. of the area. Within these
cropmarks (at SP 877707) an extensive scatter of
Roman pottery and roof tiles has been discovered
(BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). Part of the cropmarks S. of the
moat are certainly medieval and later, especially the
roughly parallel curving ditches on the S.E. which are
the remains of a road which was still in existence in
1754 (NRO, Map of Harrowden). Near the moat a
'walled cemetery, bones, sherds and a coin, possibly of
Maximianus' were found before 1837 (J. Cole, Hist. and
Ants. of Wellingborough, (1837), 138).
a(8) Roman Settlement (SP 880710; Fig. 77),
180 m. N.W. of the church on limestone at 91 m. above
OD and perhaps an extension of (7). A number of pits
containing Roman pottery were discovered during
building development (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 18). A linear
ditch visible on air photographs (in NMR) approaches
the site from the W., divides and encloses it. The E. part
of these remains, including the enclosure, were upstanding earthworks in 1947 and are likely to be medieval or
later close boundaries, perhaps on the line of an older
boundary (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 2241–2).
Medieval and Later
a(9) Mound (SP 87297075), S.W. of the village, on
clay at 95 m. above OD. A slight mound, 10 m. in diam.
and 1.2 m. high, apparently overlies a headland between
two end-on furlongs of the common fields of the parish
(13). Its date and purpose are unknown.
a(10) Settlement Remains and Moat (SP
879707; Fig. 77; Plate 12), immediately S.W. of the
church, on clay at 98 m. above OD. The whole site has
been destroyed by ploughing and the only information
comes from air photographs, taken both before and
after destruction, and OS maps (on which Fig. 77 is
based), showing approximately the original form.
There appears to have been a small rectangular enclosure,
90 m. E.—W. by 60 m. N.—S., surrounded by a moat up
to 10 m. across. Within it only a large pond orientated
N.—S. is known to have existed. On the E. and N. sides
of the moat there appear to have been other ditched
enclosures, while a long broad ditch runs E.—W., S. of
the moat, and seems to have been a hollow-way for it is
shown as a road on a map of Great Harrowden of 1754
(NRO). The moat was already abandoned by that date.
Many of the cropmarks in the surrounding area may be,
in part, of medieval date, associated with this road and
its extension S.E. and N.W. (Plate 12). N.W. of the
church (at SP 800710) there was in 1947 a series of
embanked enclosures, now visible as cropmarks. Though
the Roman settlement (7) lies within them they are
undoubtedly of medieval date. When the site was
destroyed in 1965 by ploughing, masonry and rough
foundations of re-used stone were revealed. A small
excavation led to the discovery of a two-roomed
building and a circular stone structure (DMVRG, 14th
Annual Report, (1966), 24; Med. Arch., 11 (1967),
308; BNFAS, 3 (1969), 23; Air photographs in NMR;
CUAP, BEN 61; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 2240–3).
a(11) Settlement Remains (?) (SP 88157110),
immediately N. of Harrowden Hall on sand at 84 m.
above OD. Large quantities of medieval and postmedieval pottery were found here during the
construction of a golf course (Northants. Archaeol., 9
(1974), 105; NM).
a(12) Enclosures and Pond (centred SP
885712), within Harrowden Park, on clay at about
85 m. above OD. There is a series of low banks in an
area surrounded by ridge-and-furrow. A rectangular
pond (at SP 88437102) is marked on a map of 1754
(NRO), and the three-sided sub-rectangular enclosure
immediately S. of Duke's Covert (SP 886712), covering
some 2 hectares and bounded by a low bank and shallow
external ditch, was the boundary of a large wood in
1754 and 1781 (Maps in NRO).
(13) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the common fields of the parish is not known
but it had already taken place by 1754 (Map in NRO).
Ridge-and-furrow remains on the ground or can be
traced from air photographs over almost all of the
parish. Most of it is in interlocked furlongs though
some blocks are arranged end-on to each other. Some are
of reversed-S form, e.g. in Hardwick Pastures (at SP
897703), or C-curved (at SP 875701). There are several
well-marked headlands, following the same general
orientation, W.S.W.—E.N.E., as the fine examples in
Little Harrowden, Orlingbury and Wellingborough. They
are up to 500 m. long and 25 m. wide and some are less
than 100 m. apart, e.g. a group in the W. of the parish,
centred SP 865700, and a pair N. of the village at SP
880715 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1351–60, 3351–
7, 2238–45. 4237–8; F21 540/RAF/1312, 0246–52,
0204–9; 541/611, 3064–70).