33 HEYFORD, UPPER
(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 NE, b SP 66 SE)
The parish covers only about 370 hectares and lies
on the N. side of the R. Nene which forms its S.
boundary. The greater part is an extensive area of
sands and gravels, sloping gently S. to the river between 70 m. and 100 m. above OD, but in the N.
the land rises steeply across Lias Clay to Glassthorpe
Hill, a rounded hill capped with Northampton Sand
at just over 122 m. above OD.
Prehistoric and Roman
A stone bracer or wrist guard made of a greenish-grey
rhyolite was found in 1949 immediately S. of the village
(SP 66445937; NM; PPS, 28 (1962), 263; J. Northants. Mus.
and Art Gall., 6 (1969), 35). A single Roman coin of 'Faustina' is recorded from the parish (NM Records).
a(1) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 663599), N.W. of the
village on gravel at 88 m. above OD. Roman pottery
including grey wares and 4th-century Nene valley types
was found in 1963. The site now lies under the M1 motorway (NM Records).
Medieval and Later
a(2) Settlement Remains (centred SP 665595; Fig. 80),
formerly part of Upper Heyford village, lie immediately
S. of the existing houses, on gravel between 79 m. and
85 m. above OD. The national taxation records for Upper
Heyford are very inadequate. The village is first noted in
1086 when it was listed in Domesday Book as comprising
two small manors, both held by the Count of Mortain,
with a total recorded population of two (VCH Northants.,
I (1902), 322, 328). Thereafter it is always combined with
Nether Heyford in the national records until the 1673
Hearth Tax Returns when 51 people are listed (PRO, E179/
254/14). Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 525), writing
in about 1720, said that there were 20 houses there; in 1801
the population of the area was 122. However, these figures
are difficult to interpret for at that time the parish of Nether
Heyford did not exist as an administrative unit and the
land was in some way divided between Heyford, Flore and
Bugbrooke parishes (Whellan, Dir., 321).
The earliest cartographic representation of the village is
a map of 1758 (NRO). This shows the village as even
smaller than it is today. The two roughly parallel streets
are shown extending S. from the main E.-W. route (now
the A45). No buildings are depicted to the W. of the
westernmost of the two streets, though the present Home
Farm existed, as well as a single cottage at the junction of
the street with the main road. Two other farms are depicted to the S. of Home Farm, on the E. side of the street.
To the W. of Home Farm the map shows a subsidiary
loop road which no longer exists. Along the eastern street
only the present North Farm stood, on the W. side, with
another single cottage at the A45 junction. By the early
19th century (OS 1st ed. 1 in. map, 1834) the present farm
and cottages on the W. side of the western street and the
farm on the E. side of the eastern street had been built,
but the farms to the S. of Home Farm had disappeared.
The surviving buildings, the cartographic evidence and
the earthworks together suggest that there were once perhaps two very small settlements each lying along one or
both sides of two parallel streets. They may have expanded
southwards along these streets and then, at an unknown
period before the mid 18th century, contracted. The 1758
map shows that the settlement remained small until that
date although it later grew again.
The surviving earthworks are in poor condition and not
completely understood. The remains fall into two groups.
To the S. of Home Farm ('a' on plan) is an area of disturbed
ground including two very large roughly rectangular
depressions up to 1.5 m. deep where the 1758 map depicts
the two farms, with an area of narrow ridge-and-furrow
to the E. The latter is very slight and it is impossible to
say whether it is earlier or later than the farms to the W.
Further S. are some shallow quarry pits, with to the W.
of them two rectangular sunken platforms 1 m. deep, presumably the sites of former houses alongside the existing
Fig. 80 Upper Heyford (2) Settlement remains
Further E., on the W. side of the eastern street, is another
area of low disturbed earthworks of no coherent form, the
S. part of which has been ploughed over at some time ('b'
on plan). A quantity of medieval pottery was found here
some years ago (local inf.). The two groups of earthworks
are linked by a series of shallow ditches, scarps and low
banks which may be the boundaries of former closes.
Fieldwalking in the arable land S., S.W. and S.E. of the
earthworks has failed to produce any evidence of former
occupation. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1172–3; FSL6603, 2364–
5; CUAP, AMW61)
(3) Cultivation Remains. The exact date of the enclosure of the common fields of Upper Heyford is unknown
but Bridges, writing in about 1720 (Hist. of Northants., I
(1791), 525), said that 'about eight years ago it was enclosed
by the Marquis of Powis'. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields
remains on the ground or can be traced on air photographs
over large parts of the parish, arranged mainly in rectangular furlongs set either end-on or at right angles to each
other. Broad ditches or hollow-ways existed in a few places
(e.g. SP 664591), passing between the furlongs, but their
date is unknown and they may relate to a period after
enclosure. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1172–5, 1261–5; CPE/UK/
1926, 4035–7; FSL6603, 2364–5, 2374–5)