(OS 1:10000 SP 53 NE)
The generally diamond-shaped parish, covering less
than 700 hectares, is bounded by the Great Ouse on
the S.E. and by smaller watercourses on the other
three sides. Boulder Clay covers the higher land in
the N. rising to 152 m. above OD, and wide bands
of Oolite Limestone and Upper Lias Clay are exposed along the valley sides. The town of Brackley
was a deliberate plantation, laid out before 1173
along the existing main Northampton-Oxford road
at some distance from the earlier village of Brackley
(3) to the N.E.
Prehistoric and Roman
One barbed-and-tanged arrowhead has been found in
the W. of the parish (SP 572382; BNFAS, 5 (1971), 1) and
an Iron Age gold coin of the Dobunni is also recorded
(Mack, 386; S. S. Frere (ed.), Problems of the Iron Age in S.
Britain (1958), 251; Fitzwilliam Museum). A few Roman
sherds and one scraper have been found at SP 573378 and
other Roman sherds at SP 58403677 (Northants. SMR).
Fig. 35 Boddington (5) Settlement remains at Lower Boddington, (6) Enclosures
(1) Roman Settlement (centred SP 592372), lies S.S.E.
of Brackley church, at 107 m. above OD. Building work
between 1971 and 1974 revealed evidence of an extensive
Roman settlement. Finds included: (a) (SP 594370) pottery
and roof tiles (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 6); (b) (SP 592373) samian
ware, roof and flue tiles, tesserae, plaster and much coarse
ware indicating late Roman occupation, as well as coins of
Severus Alexander, Tetricus I, Gallienus and Crispus,
foundations of walls, a cobbled floor and a covered stone
gully (Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 5; 9 (1974), 86; Britannia, 4 (1973), 294; Northants. SMR).
(2) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 580378), N.W. of the
town at 125 m. above OD. Evidence of a Roman settlement was noted before 1977 but no details are known.
Medieval and Later
The site of the poorly documented Brackley Castle is
said to have been S.W. of the town (SP 581346), but no
trace of a castle has been discovered (J. Bridges, Hist. of
Northants., I (1791), 143; OS Record Cards). A sceatta in
NM was perhaps found in Brackley before 1902 (VCH
Northants., I (1902), 255; Brit. Num. J., 47 (1977), 34).
A penny of Ethelred was found in a garden at Brackley
before 1866 (JBAA, 22 (1866), 245). A Saxon spearhead
and perhaps part of a shield boss were found in a pond
somewhere in the parish before 1904 (T. J. George, Arch.
Survey of Northants. (1904), 11; NM) and a late Saxon
dagger said to be from Brackley is in the Ashmolean Museum. Medieval pottery has been noted over the years on
the S. side of the town, near Bridge Street (SP 585366,
584365; Ashmolean Museum; Northants. SMR).
(3) Settlement Remains (centred SP 591372), formerly
part of the village of Brackley, lie S. and W. of St. Peter's
Church, in the area known as Old Town. Brackley is first
mentioned in 1086 when Domesday Book lists it as a small
manor of two hides with a recorded population of 24
(VCH Northants., I (1902), 330). By 1173 the new town of
Brackley appears to have been laid out along the OxfordNorthampton road to the S.W. of the earlier village (M.
W. Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages (1967), 468–
9). The old village with its parish church remained separate
from the new town and even in the early 18th century it
only contained 20 houses (Bridges, op. cit.). Similarly the
Enclosure Map of 1830 (NRO) shows only a few houses
to the N. and E. of the church. In recent years most of the
area has been built over and little of the earlier village
survives. Pottery of the 12th to 14th centuries, has been
found in two places within the area of the village, in the
allotment and graveyard extensions immediately S. of the
church and further to the W. on the N. side of Pebble Lane
Leland, writing in the 16th century, said that the town
was then in decline and that there were the remains of
abandoned streets (Itinerarium, II (1744), 36), but as a result
of later growth no trace of these remains survives.
(4) Fishpond (SP 580366), formerly lay S.W. of the town
in the valley of a small S.E.-flowing stream, at 105 m.
above OD. The area N. of the stream was known as The
Duke's Fishpond in the early 19th century (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1830). In 1978 large blocks of masonry, perhaps
from the original dam, were discovered (Northants.
(5) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of Brackley were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1829 (NRO,
Enclosure Map, 1830). At that date there were five open
fields lying N. and W. of the town, with extensive old
enclosures occupying the area immediately S.W. of the
town and in the N.W. along the Greatworth parish boundary. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground
or can be traced on air photographs and appears to correspond with the strips shown on the Draft Enclosure Map
(NRO). It lies in end-on furlongs running across the contours on the valley sides in the S.W. and W. of the parish,
except where small tributary valleys occur. Here the
ridge-and-furrow is arranged at right angles to the minor
stream and an interlocked pattern results (SP 570381 and
576374). This area lay in the former Castle and Middle
Castle Fields in 1829. The same pattern of ridge-and-fur-row occurs immediately N. of the Old Town, along another valley side, in the former Old Town and Middle Old
Town Fields (SP 594384, 594378 and 593372). On the
higher flatter ground N. of the town, in the former High
Field, a pattern of rectangular furlongs set at right angles
to each other is traceable (SP 582388). Ridge-and-furrow
is also visible within the former old enclosures in the N.W.
of the parish. (Northants. P. and P., 6 (1975). 33–48; RAF
VAP CPE/UK/1926, 2217–20, 4216–21; CPE/UK/1929, 1320–2;