14 COLD HIGHAM
(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 SW, b SP 65 SE, c SP 65 NE,
d SP 65 NW)
The parish, covering just over 700 hectares, lies W.
of Watling Street (A5) which forms the N.E. boundary, and is drained by several small streams flowing
generally N.E. and S.E. A large outcrop of Northampton Sand with small patches of Oolitic Limestone occupies much of the central and S. part, with
a blanket of Boulder Clay in the S.W. and S.E.
where the land rises to a maximum height of 162 m.
above OD. A N.-facing scarp in the N., between
120 m. and 90 m. above OD, is on Upper Lias Clay
and Marlstone Rock.
The parish contains three medieval settlements
(Fig. 41) one of which, Potcote (5), is now largely
deserted. The village of Cold Higham itself is very
small, and only Grimscote (4) is of any size.
Prehistoric and Roman
A Roman sestertius, probably of the 2nd century, was
found in 1966 at Grimscote (SP 653535; Northants. Archaeol.,
12 (1977), 211).
b(1) Ring Ditch (?) (SP 660531), 500 m. S.W. of Cold
Higham church, on Northampton Sand at 152 m. above
OD. Air photographs (NCAU) show a possible ring ditch
some 15 m. in diam.
b(2) Enclosures and Ditches (centred SP 663535; Fig.
40), S. and N.E. of Cold Higham church, on Northampton Sand between 142 m. and 152 m. above OD. Air
photographs (NCAU) show an area of complicated cropmarks covering some 12 hectares. Most of these are indistinct and almost impossible to understand. The plan given
here should be regarded as an interim interpretation. The
numerous overlapping enclosures and ditches presumably
indicate a long period of occupation.
b(3) Enclosures and Ring Ditch (SP 665541), 200 m.
N. of Foster's Booth and immediately W. of Watling
Street, on Northampton Sand at 142 m. above OD. Air
photographs (NCAU) show very indistinctly a rectangular
arrangement of at least six small elongated paddocks or
closes only 50 m. by 10 m.–20 m., orientated E.-W. and
not aligned on the Roman road. A ring ditch 12 m. in
diam. is just visible inside one of them.
For Roman Road 1f, Watling Street, see Appendix.
Fig. 40 Cold Higham (2)
Enclosures and ditches
Medieval and Later
b(4) Settlement Remains (SP 654535; Fig. 41), formerly
part of Grimscote, lie in and around the hamlet, on Northampton Sand between 122 m. and 140 m. above OD.
The hamlet is the largest centre of population in the parish
and already was so in the early 18th century (J. Bridges,
Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 259). Little is known of its
history, but extensive earthworks around it might suggest
that it was once much larger than it is now. Indeed even
in the mid 19th century Baker (Hist. of Northants., II (1836–
41), 291) said that Grimscote 'abounds in abrupt inequalities of surface'.
Most of the surviving earthworks are of little archaeological interest as they appear to be relatively modern and
unconnected with settlement. For example, there are extensive stone quarries immediately S. and S.W. of Manor
Farm (SP 654535) and broad bench or terrace features on
the valley side to the N. of the farm (SP 654537) also appear
to be old quarries. Banks to the N.E. and S.E. of the farm
(SP 655637 and 655534) are at least in part the lines of old
hedges bounding paddocks which were still in existence in
1812 (NRO, Enclosure Map). Elsewhere the banks appear
to be old close boundaries, which had already been aban
doned by 1726 (Map in NRO), for example on both sides
of Mill Lane, behind Home Farm, Goffs Farm and Ivybank
(SP 649535, 651534 and 651535). The only possible former
house-sites lie in two small embanked closes on the E. side
of Manor Road and immediately S. of Manor Farm (SP
653535); the E. ends of these have been cut by the later
quarries. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3041–3; CUAP, AKS2; air
photographs in NMR)
b(5) Deserted Hamlet of Potcote (SP 658526; Fig. 41),
lies S.W. of Cold Higham, around Potcote Farm, on limestone and sand at 137 m. above OD. The hamlet was the
centre of a discrete unit of land which occupied the S. part
of the modern parish of Cold Higham, the boundaries of
which are shown on a map of 1726 (NRO). In addition,
it appears that a small area of land at the N. end of Greens
Norton parish also belonged to Potcote, and there is still
a farm called Potcote there (at SP 662518). It is not clear
how or why this land in Greens Norton became part of
Potcote. Either there were originally two places both called
Potcote, or the unit of land belonging to Potcote predates
the establishment of the Cold Higham-Greens Norton parish boundary.
Potcote is not recorded in documents until 1202 (PN
Northants., 91–2), but is almost certainly much older. In
the 12th-century Survey of Northamptonshire (VCH Northants., I (1902), 373) there is a reference to an otherwise
unidentified place called Potton in Towcester Hundred and
this may by Potcote. The hamlet is mentioned by name in
the 1316 Nomina Villarum, but thereafter there is no indication of its size until 1499 when Sir Thomas Green of
Greens Norton, whose family had acquired the manor
before 1428, destroyed four houses and enclosed 304 acres
of land, converting it to pasture (K. J. Allison et al., The
Deserted Villages of Northants. (1966), 45). Nothing is then
known of Potcote until 1726; a map of that date shows a
single farmstead there, with another farm to the S. within
Greens Norton. The same situation existed in 1812 (NRO,
Enclosure Map of Cold Higham). Since then, except for
the rebuilding of the main Potcote Farm on a new site to
the N.W. of the old one, nothing has changed.
There is little trace of the hamlet on the ground and the
modern farm may have destroyed any former earthworks.
An area of some 8 hectares around the farm is devoid of
ridge-and-furrow and this may mark the overall extend of
the hamlet. There are some very slight, indeterminate
banks and scarps forming no coherent pattern to the S.E.
of the modern farm, while to the S.W. are the fragmentary
remains of what appear to be three sides of an embanked
enclosure of about 2 hectares. A small quantity of pottery,
mainly of 13th or 14th-century date but including some
post-medieval sherds, has been found in the fields to the
S. of the farm (SP 658525).
At the Potcote Farm to the S., in Greens Norton parish,
are some slight banks lying to the W. of the present buildings. These may be the boundaries of paddocks abandoned
relatively recently. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3041–3; CPE/UK/
(6) Cultivation Remains (Fig. 41). The common fields
of Cold Higham and Grimscote were enclosed by an Act
of Parliament of 1812 (NRO, Enclosure Map), and it is
not certain whether each settlement had its own field system. An earlier map of 1726 (NRO) shows the common
fields, but the furlongs and strips on it appear to be
Fig. 41 Cold Higham, Greens Norton,
Pattishall and Towcester
Medieval settlements and estates
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground
or can be traced on air photographs over much of that part
of the parish associated with Grimscote and Cold Higham.
It is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs, many of
reversed-S form. There are examples of the overploughing
of headlands in order to make two end-on furlongs into
one (e.g. at SP 651532) and in places where the ridge-and-furrow has been ploughed out the original headlands survive as broad low ridges in the modern arable (e.g. at SP
The common fields of Potcote were apparently at least
partly enclosed in 1499 when Sir Thomas Green converted
304 acres there to pasture (K.J. Allison et al., The Deserted
Villages of Northants. (1966), 45). Certainly the whole area
was enclosed by 1726. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields
exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs
over much of the land attributable to Potcote, arranged in
end-on and interlocked furlongs of normal medieval form.
(RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3040–5, 5039–43; CPE/UK/1994,