(OS 1: 10000a SP 56 NE, b SP 56 SE)
The modern parish, covering about 1700 hectares,
comprises the medieval parishes of Daventry and Drayton,
the latter now a suburb of the town. Most of the area
consists of undulating Jurassic clayland sloping generally
N.E. between 210 m. and 110 m. above OD and drained
by a series of small N.E.-flowing streams. In the N.W. of
the parish the clays are overlaid by glacial clay, sands and
Along the E. side lies the great irregular flat-topped
block of Borough Hill, rising to 200 m. above OD and
capped by Northampton Sand. Its summit is ringed by a
hill fort (3) which is by far the largest in the county and one
of the largest in England. Despite the fact that its defences,
except on the N., are negligible, finds from the area
indicated a long period of occupation through much of the
prehistoric and Roman periods and later. It is likely that it
was the immediate predecessor of the Roman town of
Bannaventa (Norton (4)) which lies to the E. The other
monument of note in the parish is the enclosure known as
Burnt Walls (35), which lies to the S. of Borough Hill; not
only is it of unusual form, but also of unknown date and
b(1)–(21) Borough Hill complex (Fig. 54; Plate 1).
Borough Hill is a large, roughly triangular hill covering
more than 200 hectares in the E. part of Daventry parish. It
is mainly of Lower Lias Clay, but is capped by
Northampton Sand which gives it a rounded summit
below which are steep clay-covered slopes. The highest
point, almost 200 m. above OD, is near the S. end. The
base of the whole hill is at about 145 m. above OD.
Daventry (3) Borough Hill
Profiles (see Fig. 54)
The site is one of the most important in the county,
because of both the variety and the historical implications
of the remains. Chance finds indicate occupation during
much of the later prehistoric period, culminating in the
great hill fort itself. The latter seems to be of two distinct
phases, a large but slightly defended contour fort, succeeded
by a massively protected but much smaller fort at the N.
end of the hill. During the Roman period there seems to
have been much occupation here and the known remains
include a large villa and a number of burial mounds.
Fig. 54 Daventry (1–21) Borough Hill Complex
Two or perhaps three Saxon burials are recorded from
the hill and, unusually, some Viking weapons. In the 10th
century the hill fort is called a burh in a Saxon Charter
(BCS 792; 944 AD) but elsewhere in the same charter it is
also termed the stod-fald perhaps indicating that it was used
for livestock at that time (PN Northants., 10–12). For most
of the medieval period the hill was apparently pasture for
the township of Daventry. In 1645 at least part of the
Royalist army encamped there immediately before the
Battle of Naseby. By the early 18th century the hill was
used as a race course, races being held annually up to 1741
and then infrequently until 1801. At that date the
archaeological remains were probably still well preserved,
but since then a continuous process of destruction and
mutilation has affected the site.
After the enclosure of the parish in 1801 the hill was
divided into fields and much of the summit was ploughed.
A farm was then built on the N. end of it, large parts of the
hill fort defences were damaged or destroyed, and the
barrows ploughed over. In the 1930s the site became a large
BBC transmitting station; destruction and disturbance,
still continue. Recently a golf course has been made across
the N. part of the hill, resulting in further damage. As a
consequence of this modern activity archaeological
knowledge is fragmentary. Two separate excavations in
the 19th century, first by Baker in 1823 and then by
Botfield in 1852, produced much valuable evidence though
by modern standards the methods used were totally
inadequate. Further work in the early 1920s also led to
The literature is extensive. The main sources are: J.
Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 519–20, 546–7; J.
Bridges, Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 42; G. Baker, Hist. of
Northants., I (1822–30), 339–47; JBAA, I (1846), 245; C.
Roach Smith, Coll. Antiq., I (1848), 113; Archaeologia, 35
(1853), 383–95; W. Edgar, Borough Hill and its History
(1923). This latter work includes a collection of almost all
the early commentaries on the area by Camden, Walpole,
Brayley and Pennant.
Many of the finds from the hill are in NM and BM, but
an important collection made by Edgar is situated in
Daventry School (hereafter DS). This collection has been
examined by A. E. Brown whose catalogue, including
detailed descriptions and drawings, is deposited in NM and
The finds and the monuments on Borough Hill are here
listed together for convenience.
Prehistoric and Roman
At least two Palaeolithic implements have been
discovered on the hill. One is a small twisted ovate of
developed middle Acheulean type (NM: PPS, 29 (1963),
382–3; Edgar, op. cit., Plate 4). The other, a small pointed
hand axe, was found in 1932 during the construction of the
BBC transmitting station and thus must have come from
SP 588621 (DS).
In 1932 Edgar made a 'representative collection of flint
implements' from within the hill fort. These include leaf-shaped and tanged arrowheads, circular and oval scrapers
and notched flakes as well as cores and waste flakes (DS).
Two Neolithic axes are also recorded (both in DS), one of
chipped flint and the other, incomplete, of polished
greenish-grey stone. The latter came from the foundation
trenches of the BBC transmitting station (SP 588621).
Bronze Age discoveries include three looped palstaves.
One was found before 1893 (lost; NM Records) and the
two others (DS) are labelled 'from Borough Hill Camp'.
Two socketed axes (DS) were found together in 1932 at the
BBC transmitting station with the broken stone axe noted
above, and part of a bronze sword-blade in the school's
collection is also labelled 'from Borough Hill Camp'.
Further Bronze Age and Iron Age objects recorded as
'from Daventry' (see p. 67) may have come from the hill
fort. Among other unlocated finds from the hill are two
coins, of Gallienus and Julian, a 'metal kettle' and
quantities of teeth and bones (letter dated 23 March 1865,
in Dryden Collection, Central Library, Northampton).
(1) Barrow (SP 58896210; Fig. 54), E. of the BBC
transmitting station on ground sloping gently E. at 195 m.
above OD. In 1830 Baker (op. cit., 347) said that it was the
most prominent 'tumulus' on Borough Hill. By 1932
Edgar (op. cit., 37) noted that it was 'visible but
inconspicuous'. No trace now remains.
(2) Barrow (SP 58946306; Fig. 54), immediately S. of
the northern fort on almost level ground at 190 m. above
OD. It consists of a small roughly circular mound some
10 m. in diam. and 0.25 m. high, much mutilated, with no
trace of a ditch. It was excavated by Baker in 1823 after it
had already been ploughed (Baker, op. cit., 347). He
discovered a primary cremation accompanied by fragments
of a large urn 'ornamented below the rim with a zig-zag
pattern', possibly a Collared Urn, as well as fragments of at
least two or three other urns and a 'small part of a patera of
light-red ware'. The latter may have been Roman and thus
a secondary feature. Certainly a secondary inhumation
with animal bones was also found. Baker records that two
or three years before his work a broken jet amulet had been
picked up on the surface of the barrow.
(3) Hill fort (centred SP 588626; Fig. 54; Plate 1),
known as Borough Hill Camp, can be assigned to two
separate periods. At the N. end of the hill is a small roughly
triangular fort bounded by a massive bank and ditch but
the whole hill top is surrounded by a much smaller bank
and ditch. The relationship between the two defence
systems has never been clear and most authorities have
assumed that the northern fort was earlier and that the
contour fort was added later. However, as the present
survey indicates, it is more likely that the outer contour
fort was the earlier defence and that the main northern fort
was a later addition. This conclusion is the same as that
reached by Edgar in 1923 (op. cit., 30–31). If this is so then
the contour fort may be interpreted as a pre-Iron Age
fortification of a type recently identified elsewhere. The late
Bronze Age finds both definitely or possibly from the
interior of the fort (see above) might support this idea.
The Contour Fort covers an area of some 54 hectares and
was once probably bounded by a number of banks and
ditches. However as a result of later destruction the original
defences do not survive in their original state anywhere. In
the S.W. these defences ('a' on plan) have been entirely
flattened and no trace exists on the ground. Even in the
early 19th century this section had probably almost
disappeared, as a result of ploughing, though Baker's map
of 1822 (Baker, op. cit., 343) showed the defences still
existing. By 1923 Edgar (op. cit., Fig. 1; 29) noted that the
'old line of the defences can yet be seen under favourable
circumstances'. Further N. the defences are still partly
preserved for a distance of 400 m. ('a'–'b' on plan). Here,
though the inner bank is reduced to little more than a
scarp, the ditch is in good condition, being 1.25 m. deep
with the counterscarp bank 1 m. high. Near the S. end of
this section the ditch is blocked by two causeways of
unknown, but perhaps recent, date. Neither of these was
shown on Edgar's plan of 1923 (Edgar, op. cit., Fig. 1). A
little to the N. of the causeways the line of the defence
system is broken for a short distance at the head of a small
spring. No earthworks existed here in 1923 according to
Edgar though Baker in 1823 showed the line of defences
unbroken at this point.
Beyond this the ditch and the counterscarp bank
reappear and continue for some 210 m., after which only
the downhill side of the counterscarp bank, a scarp 1 m.
high, is visible ('b'–'c' on plan). For the next 150 m. no
trace of the defences remains. Again Baker's map of 1823
showed the defences complete here, though Edgar's map
At the edge of the golf course ('d' on plan) the outer side
of the inner bank or rampart, now mutilated by a golf tee,
is again visible, with, after a small break, the other face of
the counterscarp bank below it. There is no indication of a
ditch at this point. A little further N. these defences have
been altered by the later defences of the northern fort,
which at this point ('e' on plan) sweep N.W. and behind
the contour fort's counterscarp bank.
From here to the N. corner of the hill ('e'–'f' on plan) all
that remains of the earlier fort is a rounded bank, nowhere
more than 1 m. high, which appears to be the counterscarp
bank. The original ditch and inner bank or rampart have
apparently been destroyed by the later ditch of the northern
fort. These features are not shown on either Baker's or
At the N. end of the hill ('f' on plan) the counterscarp
bank and indeed the defences of the northern fort are cut by
a deeply hollowed trackway climbing the hill from the
N.W.; it is not depicted on Baker's map of 1823 and Edgar
described it as modern in 1923. Beyond this hollow-way
are two short lengths of scarp; another further downhill
(not shown on plan) is modern. The former appear to be
the outer faces of the rampart and of the counterscarp bank
of the contour fort, but there is no trace of the intermediate
ditch. From this point, for some 330 m. along the E. side of
the hill ('f'–'g' on plan), nothing remains of the contour
fort defences apart from the well-marked scarp 2 m. high
following the existing hedge-line, which probably
represents the position of the original rampart. A slight
ledge or scarp (not shown on plan) to the E. below the
hedge, along this section and further S., is not part of the
fort but is a natural feature occuring at the junction
between the Northampton Sand and the underlying Lias
In the S.E. corner of the golf course ('g' on plan) the
main contour fort scarp is broken and after a short gap
reappears inside the line of the modern hedge, still as a scarp
1 m.–2 m. high. Below it, on the hedge-line, are traces of a
much smaller scarp surmounted in places by the hedge-bank. This is probably all that remains of the original
counterscarp bank. By 1823 Baker indicated that the
defences here were already in this condition, but just over a
century earlier in 1712, Morton (op. cit., 520) said that
they consisted of 'two deep trenches and three banks'.
Further S. again ('h' on plan) a later terrace-way or
track cuts across both scarps and, a short distance beyond,
the upper scarp fades out. For the next 160 m. ('h'–'i' on
plan) only the lower scarp remains, up to 2 m. high. There
is then a short gap where even this scarp has been
destroyed, after which it reappears, only 0.5 m. high, for
some 40 m. ('j' on plan). In 1712 Morton described the
defences here as consisting of 'three trenches and four
banks'. Today there is then another gap beyond which the
scarp reappears and can be followed as far as the S.E.
corner of the hill ('j'–'k' on plan). Along the N. part of this
section the scarp is 2 m.–3 m. high, but further S., as it
curves across the S.E. corner of the hill, it has been reduced
by ploughing and other activities to little more than
0.25 m. high. In 1823 Baker described a similar situation
but in 1712 Morton said that the defences comprised two
ditches and three banks.
In the S.E. corner of the fort ('k' on plan) the defences
reappear in a state somewhat near their original form, and
run N.W. for 270 m. Here they consist of a low flat-topped rampart 0.25 m.–0.5 m. high above the interior,
with a steep-sided ditch in front of it, cut 2.25 m. deep
below the top of the rampart and 1.25 m. below the ground
surface to the S. There is no trace of a counterscarp bank.
However here also much modern destruction seems to
have occurred for Morton in 1712 recorded two ditches
and three banks, perhaps implying that there was at least
another ditch with a bank on each side of it beyond the
present ditch. The face of the surviving rampart is now in
poor condition and has partly collapsed to reveal that it was
constructed of Northampton Sand. Towards the W. end of
this section the ditch disappears and the rampart fades out;
beyond, all trace of the defences is lost. In 1971, during
excavation for new radio masts and cables on this southern
section (SP 588619), part of a ditch was exposed. This
showed that the original ditch was dug to a depth of 3 m.
and later recut after some silting. After more silting it
seems to have been recut again to a depth of 2.25 m. with a
much narrower profile. It was then abandoned. No finds
were made (DOE Arch. Excavations 1971, (1972), 11–12).
Similar evidence was noted in 1918 when a trial trench for
ironstone was dug here. Then Edgar and T. J. George
noted that the ditch was silted up at least 1.2 m.–1.5 m.
(4 ft.–5 ft.) deep (Edgar, op. cit., 29).
Apart from the barrows (1, 2, 4–17) and the chance finds
listed above little is recorded from the interior. Baker's map
(op. cit., 343) shows a large roughly rectangular earthwork
near the W. side, S. of the northern fort (centred at SP
588628). Baker (op. cit., 344) described it as having a slight
bank inside a ditch. In its S.W. corner and S. side met the
W. rampart of the contour fort, but the N. side, Baker
claimed, passed through the defences and extended down
the hill as a 'covered way'. By 1923 all but the N. corner of
this enclosure had gone (Edgar, op. cit., 32) and this N.
corner survives now only as a scarp 0.2 m. high; however,
another scarp continues N.E. for some 45 m. before
turning S.E. and fading out. Baker also marked what he
called a 'small trench' crossing the S. part of the hill but no
trace remains. It was almost certainly an old hollow-way.
During work for new radio masts in 1971 (DOE Arch.
Excavations 1971, op. cit.) two features were noted
immediately N. of the S. defences of the contour fort. One
was a round-bottomed pit or ditch with no evidence of
silting and no finds. The other was a pit, at least 1.25 m.
deep and 1 m. wide, with vertical sides. It was perhaps
originally a storage pit, but may later have been used in an
iron-making process. One sherd, possibly of early Iron
Age date, was found in it. Morton (op. cit., 521) records
the discovery of 'Roman money' in a cut through the
ramparts though exactly where is not specified.
The Northern Fort covers just under 5 hectares and
consists of a roughly triangular area, bounded by a massive
rampart, a ditch and a counterscarp bank on the E. and W.
sides. On the S. side a rampart, ditch and counterscarp
bank, possibly with an outer and later bank and ditch
beyond, cut across the hill top. The W. side is the best
preserved. Here the inner rampart is no more than a scarp
falling into the main ditch, except at the N. end where
slight traces of the inner side of the bank, only 0.25 m.
high, remain. The ditch is steep-sided and flat-bottomed,
cut 3 m. below the summit of the rampart and 1.5 m.
below the counterscarp bank on the outside. The
counterscarp bank is much damaged and in places is only a
low scarp 1 m. high. Elsewhere it is a bank of similar
height. At the extreme N. corner of the fort ('f' on plan) a
later, deeply hollowed trackway has cut across the ditch
and apparently continues within the fort ditch along the
N.E. side where it is 3 m. deep below the interior of the fort
though no inner rampart is visible. Beyond the ditch the
counterscarp bank still exists 1 m. high. After some 140 m.
the latter fades out, the hollow-way ends and the inner side
of the ditch turns W. to form an entrance-like feature
before continuing S. in a mutilated form for another 40 m.
This possible entrance is marked on Baker's map of 1823 as
is the continuation of the scarp to the S. Baker also showed
the counterscarp bank as still existing below it.
The S.E. corner of the fort and the E. part of its S.
defences no longer exist. The earthworks were almost
entirely destroyed by the farm built here in the early 19th
century and now demolished. Some of the remaining
scarps can be interpreted as the sites of farm buildings, and
a deep pit to the W. is also to be connected with the farm.
In 1823 the main rampart which had undoubtedly existed
here had already gone, according to Baker's map, though
what appears to be a broad ditch with another bank and
ditch beyond it is depicted. To the W. again ('l' on plan)
the S. defences are mainly intact and consist of an inner
rampart, now reduced to a scarp, and a deep ditch, 4 m.
below the rampart and 2 m. below the outer counterscarp
bank, the latter here only 0.25 m. high. Below and some
10 m.–15 m. in front of the counterscarp bank is another
bank 0.2 m. high with traces of an outer ditch up to 2 m.
deep at its W. end. The position and appearance of this
outer bank and ditch may indicated that it is a later addition
to the defences on this side in order to strengthen the
weakest side of the fort. At their E. ends this outer bank,
the counterscarp bank and the main ditch all fade out, and
the inner rampart curves inwards to form an ovoid flat-topped mound some 2 m. high. This suggests that before
destruction there was some form of inturned entrance to
the fort at this point. In 1823 Baker dug into the ovoid
mound on the assumption that it was a barrow, as shown
on his plan (Baker, op. cit., 343). In it he found 'part of a
skeleton of a man, the tooth of a horse and several other
bones', near the surface. Apart from the Roman Villa (18),
the Saxon burials (19–21) and Viking finds (see below) no
other discoveries are recorded from the interior of this
northern fort (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2267–8).
(4)–(17) Roman Barrows (SP 589626; Fig. 54), lay on
the summit of the hill at 195 m. above OD. In the early
18th century, Morton (op. cit., 520) wrote that there were
18 'tumuli' in a N.–S. row, with small depressions in their
summits. Baker (op. cit., 346–7) noted that some were dug
into, without any recorded results, around 1800. By 1823
only 14 remained and all had been ploughed over. In that
year Baker trenched all the main barrows. His map shows
all the 14, 11 of which were in a roughly N.–S. line, with
three more to the E. It is not possible to identify these
exactly with his descriptions of the excavation though he
appears to have numbered them from N. to S. No trace of
them remains on the ground today.
(4) Barrow (SP 58916276), Baker's (1), at the N. end of
the group, described as very slight. Nothing was found in it
and Baker doubted if it was a barrow.
(5) Barrow (SP 58916275), Baker's (2), immediately S.
of (4), described as very slight. Nothing was found in it and
again Baker doubted if it was a barrow.
(6) Barrow (SP 58916273), Baker's (3), immediately S.
of (5). Baker discovered charcoal and bones and a cist with
a covering stone.
(7) Barrow (SP 58916271), Baker's (4), immediately S.
of (6). Baker found nothing.
(8) Barrow (SP 58916269), Baker's (5), immediately S.
of (7), and in 1823 the 'most prominent' of the group with
a diameter of 9.8 m. (32 ft) and nearly 1.5 m. (5 ft.) high. It
covered an area of black earth and was probably
constructed of stone but it had been dug into earlier.
(9) Barrow (SP 58916268), Baker's (6), immediately S.
of (8). It was constructed of earth and covered four separate
burials, all cremations contained in urns and three with
other vessels near them. Baker described this as a 'family
barrow'. All the pottery survives (in NM and DS).
(10) Barrow (SP 58916266), Baker's (7), immediately S.
of (9). Baker described it as 'doubtful or had been
(11) Barrow ((?) SP 58916265), Baker's (8), probably
immediately S. of (10), and one of the most 'conspicuous'.
It consisted of a cairn of stones 0.6 m. (2 ft.) thick, below
which was a layer of dark earth almost 0.3 m. (1 ft.) thick.
This covered a circular area 1.2 m. (4 ft.) in diam. paved
with small stones on which were spread burnt ashes and
bones mixed with red earth and charcoal. At its E. end was
a 'rude buckle of brass' as well as a considerable quantity of
the same metal, much corroded.
(12) Barrow ((?) SP 58916263), Baker's (9), at least 1 m.
(3 ft. 6 in.) high, covering a floor of burnt earth, charcoal,
and bones, presenting 'the appearance rather of the spot
where the body was burnt than of the actual place of
(13)–(15) Barrows ((?) SP 58926264), Baker's (10), (11)
and (12) probably lay to the E. of (11). All 'furnished traces
of the rites of cremation, but nothing of particular detail'.
(16) Barrow ((?) SP 58916261), Baker's (13), probably
immediately S. of (12), at least 0.6 m. (2 ft.) high. It
contained a small urn covered with five 'rude stones of the
neighbourhood'. On the E. side of the urn was a
considerable amount of burnt earth and charcoal which
Baker suggested was the 'place of cremation'. The urn
survives (in NM).
(17) Barrow ((?) SP 58916260), Baker's (14), probably S.
of (16), only 0.3 m. (1 ft.) high. Below the mound and dug
about 1 m. (3 ft. 6 in.) into the original ground surface was
a circular stoned-lined cist, 1 m. (3 ft. 6 in.) in diam. In it
was a small urn, containing a cremation burial, associated
with a small handled vessel and a samian dish. These three
items survive (in NM). Near by were corroded nails and
fragments of iron.
All the surviving pottery, eleven complete pots, can be
assigned to individual barrows (Northants. Archaeol., 12
(1977), 185–190; Edgar, op. cit., Plates 12 and 13). It all
appears to be Roman, 2nd-century in date. In addition
there is a small Roman bronze cooking pot of the
'Eastland' type (DS; Jahrbuch des Romisch-Germanischen
Zentralmuseum, Mainz, 13 (1966), 67–164) which was not
mentioned in Baker's account of the barrows but was
included by Edgar (op. cit., Plate 12) in the pottery from
(18) Roman villa (SP 58896320; Figs. 54 and 55), near
the S.W. corner of the northern fort on a small knoll at
191 m. above OD. It was first excavated by Baker in 1823
(op. cit., 344–6) and then by Botfield in 1852 (Archaeologia,
35 (1853), 383–95).
Botfield re-excavated the area Baker had dug and then
extended the work to reveal other parts of the building, but
only a small part of the complete villa was exposed and
little can be concluded from the plan made at the time (Fig.
55). The excavation uncovered a large range of rooms
orientated N.–S., the S. part of which was a bath suite.
The building was constructed of sandstone rubble and
there was ample evidence of tiled roofs. Many of the walls
were decorated with painted plaster and a number of
mosaic pavements, mostly in a very fragmentary
condition, were discovered. One of the latter was virtually
complete and was removed, but only a small fragment now
survives (NM; Edgar, op. cit., Plate 1; C. Roach Smith,
Coll. Antiq., 1 (1848), 113). There was clear evidence that
the building was not all of one date, and both Baker and
Botfield noted that one of the rooms had been adapted to
form a corridor. Botfield also claimed that the most
northerly room appeared to be a later addition to the rest.
The numerous finds (Edgar, op. cit., Plates 15–20 and
27–34) included large quantities of pottery of early 2nd to
4th-century date. Some of this was of Nene valley type
and there was also some samian ware. Among other objects
either recorded or surviving were a marble moulding
(NM; Northants. Archaeol., 13 (1978), 85), miscellaneous
ironwork such as an axe, keys, knives, buckles and part of
a fibula, some pieces of bronze largely unidentifiable but
including a razor and a bracelet (BM), tesserae, hypocaust
tiles, flue and roof tiles, painted wall-plaster, a lead weight,
a gaming object, two stone spindle whorls, part of a glass
bottle, fragments of window glass, coal and pieces of
antler. There are also at least 18 surviving coins (DS)
mostly of late 3rd to mid 4th-century date.
Botfield's excavations also included the discovery of a
stone-lined well immediately S.W. of the building, which
contained, in its upper levels, a skeleton with bronze
'accoutrements' as well as an iron fibula and a hook. To
the S. of the villa, at the rear of the S. rampart of the
northern fort, Baker found a length of wall running
roughly parallel to the rampart. Beyond was a deposit of
burnt earth, charred wood, a knife and a socket of a spear,
bones of horses, cows, sheep, deer and pigs and a large
quantity of Roman pottery. The wall may have been the
boundary of the villa complex with a rubbish dump outside
Fig. 55 Daventry
(18) Roman villa (based on excavator's plan, 1852)
No trace of the villa remains on the ground and only a
disturbed area marks its position.
For the Saxon burial from this site, see (20) below.
Medieval and Later
Two Viking battle-axes of Wheeler's type V1, dating
from the later 10th or 11th century (Edgar, op. cit., Plate
8; J. Northants. Natur. Hist. Soc. and FC, 25 (1931–2),
177–8) and two spearheads (Edgar, op. cit., Plate 9) are all
said to have been found during the cutting of a road on the
N. side of Borough Hill around 1850. However it is
possible that the spearheads are in fact those recorded as
being associated with two of the Saxon burials listed below
(20) and (21) and which cannot otherwise be traced.
(19) Saxon burial (unlocated), said to be from one of
the numerous barrows on Borough Hill which Baker
excavated in 1823, although Baker himself does not
mention any such finds (Edgar, op. cit., Plate 14; VCH
Northants., I (1902), 255). An inhumation burial, probably
secondary in the barrow, was accompanied by a square-headed small-long brooch, a bronze buckle with a stylized
dolphin's head on one plate, a bronze pin, a bronze boss,
beads of glass, paste and amber, and two bronze Roman
coins, both pierced for use as pendants and one certainly of
the 4th century. It has been suggested that the burial is 5th-century (Meaney, Gazetteer, 186–7; J. Northants. Mus. and
Art Gall., 6 (1969), 44–6).
(20) Saxon burial (SP 58896320), found in one of the
rooms of the Roman villa (18) by Botfield (op. cit., 384) in
1852. A skeleton, lying N.–S. with a small spearhead at its
side, was discovered within one of the rooms of the bath
block. The spearhead may be one of those illustrated by
Edgar (op. cit., Plate 8; now in DS) and said by him to
have been found with the Viking axes noted above.
(21) Saxon burial (?) (SP 58946335), found at the
northern end of Borough Hill a few years before 1823. A
skeleton of a man in a stone cist with a spearhead by his
side was dug up (Baker, op. cit., 347).
Baker (op. cit., 344) said that lynchets 'and other
peculiarities' existed on the W. side of Borough Hill. Apart
from the ridge-and-furrow on the lower slopes in this area
(34), the only features which survive are uneven scarps and
banks (at SP 585622). These are of purely natural origin,
being land-slips of the underlying Lias Clay.
DAVENTRY PARISH (excluding Borough Hill)
Prehistoric and Roman
The following finds are recorded only as 'from
Daventry' but some or all of them may have come from
Borough Hill: two bronze palstaves (BM; VCH
Northants., I (1902), 143; NM; T. J. George, Arch. Survey of
Northants. (1904), 13; Plate 22); a bronze Hallstatt boat-shaped brooch (DS) of Italian type, probably dating from
the 6th or 7th century BC; an Iron Age gold coin, a
quarter stater of the North of Thames Group (Mack 271),
said to be in NM but not recorded there (S. S. Frere (ed.),
Problems of the Iron Age in Southern Britain (1958), 187).
The supposed long barrow, recorded by Baker (Hist. of
Northants, I (1822–30), 340) at the E. end of Daventry
Wood Hill (around SP 580610) was probably either part of
the deer park pale (33) or part of the moated site of John
Gaunt's Castle (32).
Edgar (Borough Hill and its History (1923), 38) said that a
'tumulus existed in Daventry until quite recently; its site is
now occupied by the Council Schools' (SP 573626). As this
location is very close to the old town centre the survival of
a barrow here is unlikely.
Roman material, including 3rd-century pottery, horse
bones and oyster shells, was found during road
construction in 1968 S. of Drayton village (SP 565623).
However it is probable that the material was brought from
elsewhere when old quarries were filled in during the 19th
century (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 1).
Baker recorded Roman bricks and tiles found on the
'opposite side of the road to Burnt Walls' (about SP 581611;
Baker op. cit., 339). This material may have been medieval
in date and connected with John of Gaunt's Castle (32)
though several Roman coins are also said to have come
from here (Whellan, Dir., 398).
a(22) Roman settlement (?) (SP 566651), in the N. of
the parish on Boulder Clay at 140 m. above OD. Roman
pottery and worked flints have been found (Northants.
Archaeol., 8 (1973), 26).
b(23) Roman settlement (?) (SP 564649), S.W. of (22)
on Boulder Clay at 145 m. above OD. Roman pottery and
worked flints are recorded (Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973),
b(24) Roman settlement (?) (SP 554630), in the W. of
the parish on Middle Lias Clay at 160 m. above OD.
Roman pottery and worked flints have been found here
(Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 26).
b(25) Roman settlement (?) (SP 554622), 800 m. S. of
(24) near the W. parish boundary, on Marlstone Rock at
155 m. above OD. Roman pottery and worked flints have
been recorded at this site (Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 89).
b(26) Roman settlement (?) (SP 557618), in the S.W.
part of the parish on Marlstone Rock at 165 m. above OD.
Roman pottery and worked flints have been recorded
(Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 89).
b(27) Roman settlement (?) (SP 58166280), E. of
Daventry, at the foot of Borough Hill, on Upper Lias Clay
at 145 m. above OD. Roman pottery, including Nene
Valley wares, and floor and roof tiles were discovered here
in 1965 (NM Records). Medieval pottery was also found on
Medieval and Later
For medieval pottery at SP 58166280 see (27) above.
Other medieval finds (in DS) include two glazed floor tiles
from 'Rectory Park', an iron spur and a Nuremberg token.
b(28) Medieval quarries and post-medieval pits (SP
57486255), on the S. side of Daventry High Street.
Development of the area in 1973 revealed a number of deep
quarry-pits filled with loose stones and containing a few
fragments of 14th-century Potterspury roof tile. Sherds of
13th and 14th-century pottery, a number of post-medieval
pits and ditches, and walls of 19th-century property
boundaries were also discovered (Northants. Archaeol., 9
b(29) Medieval building (?) (SP 57486255), lay
immediately E. of Daventry church. During
redevelopment in 1974 part of a stone wall cut into by later
cellars was noted. A 13th-century pot of green-glazed
ware was found near by (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975),
b(30) Fishponds (centred SP 578623; Fig. 56), now
entirely destroyed by building developments and playing
fields, lay in the valley of a small N.E.-flowing stream
immediately S.E. of the old town centre of Daventry on
Middle Lias Clay at about 135 m. above OD. The only
indication of their form comes from OS records and air
photographs (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2269–70) on which
Fig. 56 is based. Nothing is known of their history, but
they are probably to be associated with the Cluniac Priory
of Daventry. The priory was founded around 1090 at
Preston Capes and moved to Daventry in 1107–8. It was
situated immediately to the W. of Daventry church, at the
E. end of the High Street (VCH Northants., II (1906),
The fishponds consisted of four roughly rectangular
ponds cut down into the valley bottom and separated by
dams. No dimensions are known except that one of the
dams ('a' on plan) was 1.6 m. high and that the scarp along
the S.W. side of the upper pond ('b' on plan) was 1 m.
high. The original stream through the valley was diverted
to pass along the S. and S.E. sides of the ponds.
b(31) Settlement remains (SP 566625), formerly part of
the village of Drayton, lie immediately S. of the old village
on a N.-facing slope on Middle Lias Clay at 150 m. above
OD. A series of embanked closes extend S. from the
existing houses and probably represent former gardens.
b(32) Moated site (SP 581612; Fig. 57), known as John
of Gaunt's Castle, lay in the S.E. corner of the parish
within the deer park (33) on almost flat ground at the base
of a steep slope, on Upper Lias Clay at 15 m. above OD. It
was probably a medieval moated hunting-lodge, but little
is known of its history.
Fig. 56 Daventry (30) Fishponds
There are various records of Roman bricks and tiles
having been found on the site; this may be a mis-
identification of medieval materials. In 1816 the wood
which then covered the area was removed and a 'double
ditch was disclosed within which, just below the surface,
was the foundation wall, varying from 4 ft. to 5 ft. in
thickness, of a rectangular building 40 yards long and
intersected with three cross walls' (G. Baker, Hist. of
Northants., I (1822–30), 339).
Fig. 57 Daventry
(32) Moated site known as John of Gaunt's Castle
The N. part of the site, including all but the S. side of the
moat, was worked for clay for a brickyard from at least
1857 until 1904 and during this time massive foundation
walls were exposed and then destroyed. A building,
apparently the one described by Baker, is recorded and
described as 'square' and occupying an area of about one
third of an acre with 'three cross walls'. On the S.W. side
the foundations of a detached round tower 8 m. in diam.
were discovered and traces of another, similar one were
noted on the E. side. Foundations of 'an entrance which
had evidently been approached by a drawbridge' were
found there apparently on the S.E. of the building (W.
Edgar, Borough Hill and its History (1923), 49–51; Northants.
N. and Q., 5 (1921–3), 212–3). Recently the whole site has
been built over except for the S. side of the moat which
remains as a long ditch 1.2 m. deep. In the field to the S. is
a small roughly D-shaped enclosure, bounded by a low
scarp 0.5 m. high, with traces of an outer ditch on its W.
side; this enclosure has been completely overploughed in
ridge-and-furrow. There are slight indications that there
was once a further enclosure to the S. again. A medieval
glazed roof tile, said to be from the site, survives (DS), but a
stone mortar of the 14th or 15th-century date and found in
about 1853 on the site is lost (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 1;
Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 26; J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of
Northants. (1712), 519).
b(33) Deer park (centred SP 580610), lies in the extreme
S.E. of the parish, against the Newnham parish boundary.
It occupies some 25 hectares of land on Upper Lias Clay,
N.E. of Newnham Hill and mainly in a broad open combe
The park is first recorded in documents in 1284 when it
belonged to Robert Fitz Walter (G. Baker, Hist. of
Northants., 1 (1822–30), 311). Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I
(1791), 43) said that it was 'formerly enclosed by a stone
wall ... long demolished'. The area appears always to have
been woodland and was known as Daventry Wood or The
Wood (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1803) until 1816 when all
the trees were removed (Baker, op. cit., 339). Within the
park, near its N. side, stood John of Gaunt's Castle (32)
with which it was presumably associated.
Very little remains of the park boundary although its
outline is clearly defined by the parish boundary on the S.
and E., by the A45 road on the N. and by a continuous
hedge-line on the W. However what may have been its
original boundary wall is recorded by Edgar (Borough Hill
and its History (1923), 50–1); when discussing the finds
from John of Gaunt's Castle, discovered during the 19th
century clay-digging, he mentions the fact that a
'boundary wall was found near the highway'. No trace
now exists along the N. side, as road-widening and
modern buildings have destroyed any former remains.
Along the W. side only a modern hedge bank is visible.
However along the N. and W. sides, just inside the parish
boundary, is a spread bank up to 5 m. wide but only
0.25 m. high. This may be the original boundary.
(34) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the
old parish of Daventry were enclosed by an Act of
Parliament of 1802 (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1803; Pre-Enclosure Map, 1802). Immediately before that date there
were three open fields lying to the N., E. and S. of the
town, known as Bean, Barley and Wheat Field
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields survives on the ground
or can be traced on air photographs taken before modern
urban expansion destroyed it over large areas. It was
arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs, mainly laid
out across the contours although near the foot of the N.W.
corner of Borough Hill (SP 586633) are two end-on
furlongs of ridge-and-furrow which, unusually, lie
skewed across the contours on a steep slope. These lay in
Norton Road Furlong and Under Thrup Leys Furlong in
The common fields of the parish of Drayton were
enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1752, but no map
apparently survives. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields
remains on the ground or can be traced on air photographs
over much of the area. It is best preserved in the N.W. of
the parish where almost the total pattern of furlongs is
recoverable in both end-on and interlocked blocks (RAF VAP
CPE/UK/1994, 2267–73, 4271–7, 4355–9).
Fig. 58 Daventry (35) Enclosure known as Burnt Walls
b(35) Enclosure (SP 585612; Fig. 58), known as Burnt
Walls, lies in the S.E. of the parish, immediately N. of the
A45 road, against the Newnham parish boundary in the
valley of a small E.-flowing brook. It is set on a low ridge
of Jurassic Clay at 136 m. above OD, between the main
stream and a small tributary stream on the S. The remains
consist of a roughly triangular enclosure bounded on the
S.W. by a bank 2 m. high, with an external ditch 2 m.
deep and a low counterscarp bank beyond. There is a
causeway across the ditch near the S. end which may be an
original entrance. At the S. corner the ditch and
counterscarp bank disappear and the main bank turns N.E.
to follow the edge of the tributary stream. The bank here is
between 1 m. and 2 m. high but badly mutilated, especially
by quarrying on the inside. A gap which does not appear to
be original lies in the centre of the S.E. side. At the N.E.
corner the bank is mutilated and only a low scarp above the
stream now remains along the N. side and N.E. corner. At
this latter place there is a modern entrance gap. The S. half
of the interior has been entirely quarried away; the N. half
is covered by ridge-and-furrow.
The site has been a curiosity for centuries and no
satisfactory explanation for either its date or function has
been forthcoming. Morton (Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712),
519) recorded that 'many Loads of Stones of ruined Walls
and Foundations have been digg'd up' and this is repeated
by many later writers. Baker (Hist. of Northants., I
(1822–30), 339) identified it with the site of Bannaventa,
but noted that as it 'had been used before the inclosure as a
kind of open quarry, further research would be fruitless'.
Since that time dates ranging from the Iron Age to the
medieval period have been suggested for this earthwork
(OS Record Cards; VCH Northants., II (1906), 399; W.
Edgar, Borough Hill and its History (1923), 48–9). About
1899 some depressions within the interior were examined.
'Trenches were run through several of them, but nothing
was found' (Ann. Rep. Northants. Exploration Soc., (1900),
7). The site was described as early as 1255 as Les
Brendewalles (PN Northants., 19) which suggests that it not
only existed at that time, but that its use was already
forgotten (air photographs in NMR).