An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1975.
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(OS 1:10000 a SP 98 NE, b SP 98 SE, c TL 08 SW)
The parish, covering 460 hectares, extends across rising ground from the R. Nene in the S.E. to well inside the still remaining wooded areas of Rockingham Forest, between 75 ft. and 250 ft. above OD. The higher parts are covered with Boulder Clay, but near the river bands of clays, limestones and marls are exposed on the valley sides. The remains of medieval occupation (4) on the massive limestone promontory above the river and near the church indicate an early settlement at this place.
Prehistoric and Roman
(1) Bronze Age burials (?) (unlocated) perhaps in Thorpe Achurch parish and found in 1754 'on the new road between Thrapston and Oundle at about Ivenhoe'. The name Ivenhoe is unknown but it is likely to be a mistake for Wadenhoe. The 'new road' is also unknown, but it may be the present A605, E. of the parish.
Skeletons 'with wreathed brasses around their necks' were discovered and near them 'a hollow of stones with burnt ashes, bones, deer's horn and the like' (Surtees Soc., 80 (1885), 73).
c(2) Pit alignment (TL 005835), W. of Wadenhoe village on the N. side of a small valley on Cornbrash at 170 ft. above OD. Air photographs reveal short sections of two pit alignments meeting to produce a roughly Y-shaped pattern. (CUAP, AAF3)
c(3) Roman settlement (TL 003834), W. of the village on the S. side of a small valley, on Cornbrash at 170 ft. above OD. A quantity of limestone rubble and Roman pottery, including samian, has been found (BNFAS, 1 (1966), 13). Several Roman coins, recorded but otherwise unlocated, may have come from this site (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 532).
Medieval and Later
c(4) Fortified site and settlement remains (TL 00928331; Fig. 110; Plates 7 and 8), immediately N.E. of the now isolated church of St. Michael and All Angels, and S.W. of the village. They are situated on the E. end of a low promontory of lime stone, bounded on the S.E. by the R. Nene and on the N.W. by a now dry valley, between 110 ft. and 125 ft. above OD.
The site is traditionally that of a castle and the name Castle Close, near the church, is recorded (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 55; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 288). There is, however, no mention of a medieval castle in the parish in either local or national records, and recently the site has been described as 'disused quarries' (OS Record Cards). Nevertheless, as recorded below, there is evidence on the ground of a once-continuous limestone rampart around the spur, which has been cut into by later buildings. The date of the rampart is unknown but it is possibly pre-Conquest. The name of the village has been interpreted as 'Wada's spur of land' (PN Northants., (1933), 222–3). By the late 13th century the area seems to have lain within a deer park (5).
The hill-slope itself has been artificially steepened on all sides, with a limestone rubble rampart erected along it. The rampart is best preserved at the N.W. ('a' on Fig. 110) where it still survives up to 1.5 m. high. Further E. it has been damaged by later buildings cutting through it and butting against it ('b', 'c' and 'd' on Fig. 110). It reappears at the extreme E. end of the spur ('e' on Fig. 110) and can be traced as a low bank to the W.; it then disappears but emerges again near the S.W. corner as a large bank up to 1 m. high. The rampart terminates abruptly at an apparent entrance into the interior. An access track or terrace, which runs from the village street in the E. along the side of the natural hillside on the N., swings round to the entrance in the S.W. corner. The interior is much disturbed by later digging, but in addition to the well-marked building-platforms ('b', 'c' and 'd' on Fig. 110) already noted, there is another large platform on the crest of the hill ('f') and a large triangular yard or paddock ('g'). No finds have been made but medieval pottery has been recovered from graves in the churchyard. (RAF VAP 544/602, 4083–4)
c(5) Deer park (centred TL 008834; Fig. 47), around the church and (4), covering broken land, on limestone at 100 ft. to 150 ft. above OD.
In 1298, Henry, Earl of Lincoln, was granted permission to enclose 30 acres of land belonging to the manor of Wadenhoe in order to make a park (VCH Northants., III (1930), 151). Its situation is unrecorded but this locality seems most likely since the area involved is about 30 acres (12.5 hectares); on a map of 1793 (NRO) it is depicted as a group of old enclosures, collectively called The Warren.
The boundary of the park is defined by a once-continuous bank. It now exists along the N.E. side as a low bank 0.5 to 1 m. high immediately N. of the modern hedge, and further N.W. it becomes the field boundary with a hedge on its crest. This bank, having passed through a quarrying-area, meets the modern road to Aldwincle. Later re-alignment of this road destroyed the bank and only a wide ditch, cut into the underlying limestone, remains. The ditch then follows the AldwincleWadenhoe parish boundary down to the R. Nene so forming the S.E. side of the park.
In addition to the parish church and the fortified site (4), the park contains a probable windmill-mound (6), much well-preserved ridge-and-furrow, a small embanked pond (TL 00798300) and small areas of abandoned quarrying.
c(6) Windmill mound (TL 00708328; Figs. 47 and 111), 150 m. W. of the church on the highest point of a flat-topped spur, on limestone at 160 ft. above OD. The mound, in permanent pasture, is now roughly rectangular and 1.7 m. high. There is a hole in the top, containing 18th-century bricks. The mound is surrounded on all sides by four separate furlongs of ridgeand-furrow, all of which respect it except on the E. side where the ridges rise up over the lower part of the mound, so altering its shape. It is probably a windmill-mound but there is no documentary proof.
(7) Cultivation remains. The common fields were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1793 (NRO, Enclosure Map). Immediately before that date four large open fields, as well as extensive areas of old enclosures, existed. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields survives on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, around and N.W. of the village, arranged in interlocked furlongs. Ridge-and-furrow also exists in the N.W. of the parish, E. of Wadenhoe Little Wood, in fields which were already in existence in 1773. The pattern of end-on and interlocked curving furlongs here suggests that the area was once part of common fields. (RAF VAP 541/143, 3175–82; 541/602, 4058–60)