13 CHIPPING WARDEN
(OS 1:10000 a SP 44 NE, b SP 54 NW, c SP 55 SW,
d SP 45 SE)
The modern parish covers more than 950 hectares;
the R. Cherwell forms its S. and E. boundaries, and
the Oxfordshire boundary its S.W. side. From the
river, here flowing at about 110 m. above OD, the
ground rises across bands of Lower and Middle Lias
Clay and Marlstone Rock to an area of Upper Lias
Clay at 125 m. above OD. Northampton Sand outcrops in the E. on Warden Hill over 155 m. above
There is evidence for both Iron Age and Roman
occupation in the parish including the fortified site
known as Arbury Banks (2) and the Roman villa (3).
The modern parish includes the land of the deserted
village of Trafford (10), formerly an extra-parochial
part of Byfield parish. The medieval parish of Chipping Warden had a detached part to the N., now in
Aston le Walls parish (Fig. 38) and a further detached
area centred on the abandoned village of Stoneton,
now in Warwickshire.
Prehistoric and Roman
The major portion of a large flint implement was found
in 1961 in the N. of the parish (SP 517508: OS Record
Cards; lost) and two bronze axes of unknown provenance
have also been discovered (NM). A looped palstave and a
socketed axe are said to have been found in 1977 N.W. of
the village (SP 495497; Banbury Museum; Northants. Archaeol., 14 (1979), 102). Several Iron Age coins have been
found in the parish; some are said to have come from the
Iron Age site (2) or from the Roman villa (3) but these
attributions seem uncertain. The coins include a British
'Remic' gold stater (Mack, 59) said to be from (2), a bronze
coin of Tasciovanus, three bronze coins of Cunobelinus
and an inadequately recorded gold quarter stater (S. S.
Frere (ed.), Problems of the Iron Age in Southern Britain
(1958), 223, 233, 284; OS Record Cards).
b(1) Ditched Trackway (?) (SP 509498), in the centre of
the parish, N.E. of the village, on Upper Lias Clay at
137 m. above OD. Air photographs (NCAU) show two
parallel ditches 12 m. apart orientated N.-S. and visible for
90 m. It is not clear whether the feature is overlaid by
ridge-and-furrow; it may be recent.
a(2) Iron Age Fort (SP 494486; Fig. 36), known as Arbury Camp, lies on the flat summit of a low rounded hill
S.W. of Chipping Warden village, mainly on Marlstone
Rock at 134 m. above OD. The monument is of considerable interest not only as a rare survival of an upstanding
prehistoric site in this part of the county but also because
of the medieval land use; the ramparts have been incorporated into the headlands of the common field system of
the parish (11) and a windmill (7) stood on a mound on
part of the outer bank. The E. part and the S.W. corner
are now arable land, but the rest is permanent grassland.
The site was described by Bridges in the early 18th
century (Hist. of Northants., 1 (1791), 111) who said: 'It is
certain that no Roman coins or other marks of antiquity
have ever been discovered there, though the ground is now
ploughed up'. The absence of finds from the site is still
notable, though one gold Iron Age coin, a British 'Remic'
stater (Mack. 59; in private hands) is said to have come
from the site. Five other Iron Age coins are recorded from
the parish but were perhaps found on the Roman site (3)
and not here (S. S. Frere (ed.), op. cit.). The site was
described in the 19th century by A. Beesley (Hist. of Banbury (1841), 30); he interpreted it as circular with a large
outer enclosure attached to it on the W. This idea was
elaborated by the Ordnance Survey (OS Record Cards,
1968) who said that the site consisted of a hexagonal enclosure, probably Belgic in date because of its shape, a
rectangular annex or extension to the W., a further annex
to the N., and a bank of unknown purpose further W.
again. These interpretations can be discounted as all the
banks of the suggested annexes are simply well-marked
headlands between ridge-and-furrow and have no connection with the fort itself. Moreover the fort is now hexagonal in plan almost certainly because its original ramparts
have also been used as headlands of the medieval fields and
have been pulled out of shape by ploughing. There is no
reason to doubt that, in its original form, the enclosure
was roughly circular.
Fig. 36 Chipping Warden (2) Iron Age fort, (7) Windmill mound
The main enclosure covers just under 3 hectares and was
presumably once bounded by a massive bank and external
ditch, perhaps with an original entrance in the S.E. corner.
The whole of the E. part is now under permanent arable
and the surviving rampart is no more than 10 cm. high
with no trace of a ditch. Air photographs (CUAP AKSIO; RAF
VAP 106G/UK/721, 3002–4; in NMR) show three alignments
of the rampart here, two of which, on the N. and E., have
been straightened by being used as headlands in medieval
times. All trace of the ridge-and-furrow has now disappeared except on the N. side. A short section of the rampart in the N.W. has been less damaged as the ridge-and-furrow to the N. stopped short of it and to the S. ran
E.-W. below it. Here the rampart is 1.5 m. high above the
land to the N. and 1 m. high above the interior. There is
no ditch, any trace presumably having been destroyed by
the adjacent ridge-and-furrow. The W., side is now reduced
to a broad slightly curving scarp 2.5 m. high. The assumed
outer ditch does not survive, again obliterated by the adjacent ridge-and-furrow, here running N.-S. The scarp
itself has been used as a headland during the ploughing of
the interior of the fort and its top is extremely uneven
where the ridge-and-furrow rides over it.
The S.W. corner of the fort is now only a simple scarp
1 m.–1.5 m., curving first S.E. and then E. before fading
out. The mound to the S. of it shown on OS 1:2500 maps
is part of another medieval headland (as shown on plan).
The S. side of the fort now hardly exists, for the W. part
has been ploughed down into ridge-and-furrow which in
turn has had a windmill mound (7) built over it. Immediately to the E. of the windmill mound is a small gap which
may be an original entrance, for beyond it to the N.E. is
the end of an original bank, 0.5 m. high. The W. half of
the interior of the fort is covered by well-marked ridge-and-furrow running approximately E.-W., up to 0.5 m.
high, and obscuring any original feature.
Fig. 37 Chipping Warden (3)
Roman bath house (from a plan in VCH, Northants. I)
b(3) Roman Villa (SP 510482; Fig. 37), lies S.E. of the
village, on a valley side close to the R. Cherwell, on Lias
Clay at about 110 m. above OD. The site was known in
the early 18th century, for Morton (Hist. of Northants.
(1712), 526) records the ploughing up of foundation stones,
ashes and Roman coins, but the main finds were made in
the early 19th century. The ploughing of a field called
Black Grounds revealed dark earth, foundations, dressed
stone and Roman coins; in 1826 an urn containing human
bones was discovered. Drainage work close to the river in
1849 produced much pottery, including samian, as well as
four skeletons without grave goods apart from a small
finger ring. This work also led to the discovery of a detached bath house near the river, consisting of three rooms
and a stoke hole (Fig. 37). Subsequent ploughing across
the whole area revealed extensive stone foundations and
large quantities of Roman pottery from the 1st to the 4th
century including much samian, coins and other small
objects. Some of the Iron Age coins listed above may have
come from this site. A small well is also recorded (G.
Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 530–2; A. Beesley,
Hist. of Banbury (1841), 27; JBAA, 5 (1850), 83, 168; VCH
Northants., I (1902), 200; OS Record Cards).
For Anglo-Saxon finds from this site, see below.
Medieval and Later
Anglo-Saxon objects found in the parish include sceattas
said to have come from the site of the Roman villa (3)
(JBAA, 2 (1847), 346; VCH Northants., I (1902), 255; Brit.
Num. J., 47 (1977), 38) and a 6th-century francisca of
unknown provenance, probably from a male grave (J.
Northants. Mus. and Art Gall., 6 (1969), 47). An iron
bolt-head with hinged barbs discovered on Warden Hill in
1836 has been interpreted as a relic of the Battle of Danesmoor (1469) (OS Record Cards; see (4)).
a(4) Cemetery (around SP 499485), S. of the church. In
the early 19th century many burials were discovered, including large pits full of bones with a quantity of spurs,
and single interments apparently laid out in lines. These
remains have been associated with the Battle of Danesmoor
(1469) which took place in the neighbouring parish of
Edgcote (JBAA, 1 (1845), 56; OS Record Cards; A. Beesley, Hist. of Banbury (1841), 28).
b(5) Moat (SP 501483), lay on the S.E. side of the village,
close to the R. Cherwell, on Lower Lias Clay at 105 m.
above OD. The moat has been almost completely destroyed by ploughing and the ground returned to pasture.
From plans made before destruction, the site appears to
have been a simple moated enclosure of roughly rectangular form (OS 1:2500 plan, Northants. LIV 7; G. Baker,
Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 527). Air photographs (RAF
VAP 106G/UK/721, 3002–3; CPE/UK/1926, 1069–70, and in
NMR) show slight traces of what appears to be ridge-and-furrow on the island. Water entered the moat near its
N.E. corner and returned to the R. Cherwell by a large
ditch on the S.E. side. In 1809 (NRO, map of Chipping
Warden) the area was known as Castle Yard but nothing
is known of its history.
d(6) Fishponds (SP 501486), lie 200 m. N.W. of (5) and
immediately S.E. of the village, in a shallow valley at the
N. end of Edgcote Park, on Middle Lias Clay at 122 m.
above OD. They consist of a line of three flat-bottomed
ponds, each cut down 2 m. into the valley floor. The two
upper northernmost ponds are small and have been much
altered by later activity but the lower one is larger, 120 m.
by 50 m. All have earthen dams up to 1.5 m. high. The
ponds were filled by springs above the upper pond and
water still runs from the lower pond down the valley
towards the moated site (5) which it once filled. Immediately to the W. of the lower pond there are other earth
works including large scarps up to 2.5 m. high. These
have no coherent plan but may be the sites of houses
removed when the park was made, perhaps in the 18th
century (G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 527; air
photographs in NMR).
a(7) Windmill Mound (SP 49434847; Fig. 36), lies on the
edge of a low rounded hill S.W. of the village, on Marlstone Rock at 134 m. above OD. The mound lies on top
of the S. rampart of the Iron Age fort known as Arbury
Banks (2). It is roughly circular, 20 m. in diam. and
2.25 m. high, with a flat top 9 m. across, and has a slight
cross-shaped depression in the centre. There are traces of
a ramp leading on to the mound from the S.E. The mill
was constructed on the S. rampart of the fort, which had
already been diminished by ploughing. The plough ridges
can be seen to underlie the mound. Two ridges approach
the mound from the W. The northernmost passes under
the mound but was later reploughed short of it and thus
has a secondary headland on the edge of the mound. The
southernmost ridge also passes under the mound, but has
not been reploughed. In the 19th century (NRO, Tithe
Map, 1837) the field in which the mound lay was known
as Windmill Bank, but no mill then existed. (CUAP, AKSIO;
RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1070–1)
Fig. 38 Chipping Warden
Medieval settlements and estates
a(8) Fishpond (SP 497484), lies 225 m. S.W. of the
church, in the bottom of a small S.-draining valley, on
Middle Lias Clay at 120 m. above OD. It is roughly rectangular, 40 m. by 65 m., cut back into the adjacent hillside to a depth of 2 m., with a massive earthen dam 15 m.
wide and 2.5 m. high at the S. end. Nothing is known of
its date or history. (RAF VAP 106G/UK/721, 3002–4; air
photographs in NMR)
a(9) Settlement Remains (SP 497486), formerly part of
Chipping Warden village, lay W. of the church in the angle
between the Banbury Road and Mill Lane. Air photographs taken in 1947, before the area was built over, show
a series of rectangular closes or paddocks bounded by low
scarps. More closes to the S. (at SP 497484) had already
been partly destroyed when the air photographs were
taken. No definite building sites are visible and the earthworks may have been small fields. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926,
b(10) Deserted Village of Trafford (SP 527486; Figs.
38 and 39), lies in the E. of the parish, on the W. side of
the R. Cherwell, on Marlstone Rock and Lias Clay at
112 m. above OD. The village lay at the S. end of a long
narrow strip of land bounded by the R. Cherwell, which
was a detached part of Byfield parish until the late 19th
century (NRO, Tithe Map of Byfield, (1837)).
The village is first mentioned in Domesday Book when
it was listed as a small manor with a recorded population
of six (VCH Northants., I (1902), 332). In 1301 13 taxpayers
paid the Lay Subsidy (PRO, E179/155/31) but this is the
last record of its population. Trafford is mentioned by
name in the Nomina Villarum of 1316 but thereafter it was
always taxed with Byfield. By 1547 600 sheep were kept
on the manor which suggests that it was already depopulated. By the early 19th century only the present farmhouse and the existing cottages to the N. remained, though
at least part of the E.-W. hollow-way appears still to have
been used as a track (OS 1st ed. 1 in. map, 1834; K. J.
Allison, et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants. (1966),
The remains of the village are in poor condition but
certain features are clear. A very damaged hollow-way up
to 1 m. deep runs from the W. end of the site to immediately S. of Trafford Farm where it turns sharply S. and
runs down the hillside to the R. Cherwell ('a'-'b' on plan).
To the W. of the farm this hollow-way widens into a
roughly triangular depression from the N. end of which
another hollow-way extends N. and becomes a headland
between rather narrow ridge-and-furrow. On the S. side
of the main hollow-way lie the very degraded remains of
a series of closes, with long boundaries surviving as scarps.
At their N. ends, adjacent to the hollow-way, are several
rounded or irregular platforms, possibly the sites of former
buildings. A third, narrower hollow-way runs N.E. and
then N.W. from the point where the first meets the river.
Below it to the E., in the bend of the river, are two
rectangular fishponds, set at right angles to each other and
up to 1.5 m. deep ('c' on plan). Immediately N. of the
farm are traces of at least one enclosure bounded by low
scarps. To the S.W. of the village remains there was formerly a large rectangular pond, but this has recently been
altered and extended to the E. and filled with water. (RAF
VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1065–6)
(11) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of
Chipping Warden were enclosed by an Act of Parliament
of 1733, but no details of the fields are known. Ridge-and-furrow exists on the ground or can be traced on air
photographs over much of the land attributable to Chipping Warden village, arranged in end-on or interlocked
furlongs. In a few places, for example in and around Arbury Camp (2) to the W. of the village, the ridge-and-furrow is preserved in permanent pasture and is of a considerable height, up to almost 0.75 m. high in places. The
headlands in the area of Arbury Camp are especially notable, not only for their size but also because they have in
the past been interpreted as part of the Iron Age camp (Fig.
Fig. 39 Chipping Warden (10) Deserted village of Trafford
Elsewhere headlands survive as broad ridges in permanent arable land (e.g. SP 504495). Ridge-and-furrow is
traceable on the higher broken land in the N.E. of the
parish around Warden Hill, indicating that almost the
whole parish has been under cultivation at some time.
There is one exception to this E. of Warden Hill Farm (SP
519497) where, though there is ridge-and-furrow in the
bottom and along the N. side of a steep-sided valley, the
S. side shows no evidence of ploughing. This is due to the
fact that the unstable clay has formed landslips which have
not been ploughed. Further N. (SP 517499) there is a large
area of narrow-rig ploughing, presumably of late 18th or
Although the exact date is not known, the enclosure of
the common fields of the now deserted village of Trafford
(10) had presumably taken place by 1547 when sheep were
being grazed there in some numbers. Ridge-and-furrow of
these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air
photographs over the whole of the small area of land
attributable to Trafford (Fig. 38). Except for the high land
to the N.W. of the village itself (SP 523488) where the
furlongs are interlocked, all the ridge-and-furrow is orientated E.-W., extending down the W. side of the Cherwell
valley. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1064–71, 3065–8; CPE/UK/
1994, 2101–7, 4102–5; 106G/UK/721, 3301–4)
a(12) Bank (SP 49924910), known as Wallow Bank, lies
on the N.W. edge of the village immediately N.E. of
Manor Farm, on the N. side of the Byfield Road. It is on
flat ground, on Marlstone Rock, at 132 m. above OD.
Probably because of the existence of Arbury Camp (2)
to the S.W. and of the large Roman settlement to the E.
(3), as well as the name Aston le Walls to the N., the bank
has been interpreted in a number of ways, all unsubstantiated. It was first mentioned by Morton in the early 18th
century (Hist. of Northants. (1712), 525) and Bridges (Hist.
of Northants., I (1791), 111) writing in about 1720 described
it as an earthen rampart '24 paces in length (with) a narrow
ridge; the west side of it is almost perpendicularly steep,
the east is gradually sloped; from the foot to the ridge is
9 paces'. It was apparently dug into in 1824 when it was
found to be of simple earth construction and in 1841 it was
recorded as being about 28 m. long and about 2 m. high
(A. Beesley, Hist. of Banbury (1841), 29). A skeleton was
found within the bank in 1883 (Dryden Collection, Central
Library, Northampton). The earthwork now consists of
a broad bank, orientated N.N.W.-S.S.E., 32 m. long and
13 m. wide, much spread by gardening. Its N. end is
rounded, and its S. end has been cut short and damaged
by walls and hedges. No date or function can be assigned
to the remains.