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 TL 08 NE, b TL 09 SE, c TL 18 NW, d TL 09 SW, e TL 19 SW)
The parish, of long strip shape, covers 1550 hectares stretching from the R. Nene to the old Huntingdonshire border, between 45 ft. and 210 ft. above OD. Most of the higher parts of the parish are on Boulder Clay, but Oxford Clay is exposed on the valley sides. Close to the R. Nene, N. and W. of the village, are lower flat areas of limestones and river gravels. The light soils of the latter have produced much evidence of prehistoric and Roman occupation, mainly visible only from the air, including the complex pattern of ditches and pit alignments N. of the village (6–14). There is, however, evidence of some Roman occupation on the higher Boulder Clay (16).
The deserted village of Papley (21), also situated on the high clay land in the remote S.E. is of some interest. It is very well documented and is unusual in that the remaining earthworks can be shown to date largely from the post-desertion period (Fig. 10).
Prehistoric and Roman
Two bronze palstaves have been found in the churchyard at Warmington (TL 07699101), and two stone axes are also recorded (TL 081911 and 062912; BNFAS, 8 (1973), 5).
b(1) Ring ditch (TL 06819153), N.W. of the village on River Gravel at just over 50 ft. above OD. Diam. 25 m. with a well-marked inner ring ditch 7 m. in diam. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4381–2)
b(2) Enclosure (TL 06909160), just N.E. of (1) in a similar position. Visible only on air photographs as a roughly rectangular enclosure 45 m. by 15 m., orientated N.E.-S.W. with a small enclosure in the W. corner. No entrance is detectable (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4381–2).
b(3) Ring ditch (TL 05289243; Fig. 100), in the N.W. of the parish close to the R. Nene on River Gravel at 60 ft. above OD. Diam. 12 m. (CUAP, ZF34).
b(4) Ring ditch (TL 05339239; Fig. 100), immediately E. of (3). Diam. 23 m. To the N. and E. are short lengths of ditches (CUAP, ZF34).
b(5) Settlement (TL 062917; Fig. 113), on the edge of the R. Nene flood-plain, on River Gravel at 70 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a small settlement of rectangular form with a circular feature, either a ring ditch or a hut site, within it. The settlement is connected to a long length of parallel ditches, probably a trackway running in a N.E.-S.W. direction. At its S.W. end this trackway turns W. and passes into Tansor parish where it can be traced back to the R. Nene (see Tansor (5)). (CUAP, ALF55; air photographs in NMR; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 18 Warmington (2))
b(6–14) North Warmington complex (centred TL 082921; Fig. 114) occupies a large area N. and N.E. of Warmington village on both sides of the main A605 road, here on the line of the Roman road from Irchester to Water Newton (570). The complex is mainly on Cornbrash or sand between 75 ft. and 90 ft. above OD. Apart from one enclosure and two ring ditches, all the remains revealed by air photographs are of linear form, i.e. ditches, tracks and pit alignments. (CUAP, AAP 61–62, AFZ86–87, AGC9–10; air photographs in NMR; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 18 Warmington (1), pl. 14)
b(6) Ring ditch (TL 08089200), immediately W. of the Roman road. Diam. 22 m. It lies close to the junction of a number of linear ditches, for which it appears to have been used as a boundary marker; it therefore probably predates at least some of these ditches. Within, or very close to this ring ditch, a chipped flint axe was found (inf. J. A. Hadman).
b(7) Ring ditch (TL 08499183), 400 m. E.S.E. of (6). Diam. 23 m.
b(8) Enclosure (TL 08369208), 250 m. E.N.E. of (6). On one side of two parallel ditches, it is sub-rectangular with perhaps two internal subdivisions.
b(9) Linear ditches (TL 07919230–08259220) consist of two parallel ditches, with traces of a third in two places, orientated roughly E.-W. Their W. ends terminate on the edge of the steep river cliff above the Nene but on the E. their relationship to the Roman road is obscure. These with (10) and (11) may be compared with similar parallel ditches at Fengate, near Peterborough (RCHM, Peterborough New Town, (1969), Peterborough Without (3–6)) formerly described as 'tracks?' but subsequently excavated and interpreted as defensive ditches probably dating from the Iron Age.
b(10) Linear ditches (TL 07919226–08539199) similar to (9) but extending across the line of the Roman road. At the S.E. end the N. ditch disappears.
b(11) Linear ditches (TL 08889198–09039184) similar to (9) and (10). These may possibly be continuations, to the E., of (9).
b(12) Pit alignment (TL 07899197–08199203), orientated roughly E.-W., appears to end against the line of the Roman road.
b(13) Pit alignment (TL 08159198–08079159) orientated roughly N.-S. and intersecting the Roman road.
b(14) Ditches. The whole area is crossed by various ditches which intersect the Roman road, the pit alignment and the parallel ditch systems, but they form no coherent pattern.
b(15) Roman settlement (TL 071913), just W. of the village on gravel at 70 ft. above OD. Much Roman pottery has been found and in 1962 roof tiles and oyster shells as well as more pottery were recovered (OS Record Cards). Roman coins 'found at Warmington' may be from this site (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 516).
c(16) Roman settlement (TL 101888) in the remote S.E. of the parish, near the deserted village of Papley (21), on Boulder Clay at just over 200 ft. above OD. Roman pottery and tiles were found here before 1969 during draining operations and subsequently more pottery, limestone rubble, and two pieces of fire-bars perhaps from a kiln, have been discovered. (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 26; OS Record Cards; inf. J. A. Hadman)
b(17) Roman settlement (TL 076903), S. of the village near the Tansor parish boundary on sand at 75 ft. above OD. Pottery, tiles and stone rubble have been found.
For Roman Road 570, see p. 116.
Medieval and Later
b(18) Saxon burial (?) (TL 07649115) found on the W. side of the village during sewer-laying. A Saxon spearhead, associated with bones, was discovered (OS Record Cards).
b(19) Settlement remains (centred TL 077907; Fig. 115; Plate 16) formerly part of the hamlet of Southorpe, lie along both sides of a lane, immediately S. of the present village. The two hamlets, very close to the main village, Eaglethorpe to the N. and Southorpe to the S., perhaps originated, as their names and positions suggest, as daughter-hamlets of the original Saxon village of Warmington.
Southorpe may have developed around the small triangular 'green' which still exists (TL 07909066) and then spread W. and N.E. along either side of the lane. No records of the population of Southorpe, or of the date of its abandonment, survive but on the evidence of the pottery found on the house-sites now under cultivation, the shrinkage began in the post-medieval period. By 1775 about one-third of the house sites had already been abandoned (NRO, Enclosure Map of Warmington; Plate 16) and the rest, except for two farms, had disappeared by 1834 (1st ed. OS 1 in. map). The reasons for the decline and desertion of Southorpe are not known. The remains consist mainly of slight, and often indeterminate, earthworks lying on both sides of a lane and around the former 'green'; most of the earthworks can be identified as house-sites. In other places where the fields are now under arable crops, the sites of former buildings are marked by spreads of limestone rubble, brick and cobble; a few sherds of medieval pottery and larger quantities of postmedieval wares have been found. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4383–5, 4401–4)
b(20) Moat and enclosure (?) (TL 07929144), immediately N.E. of the village on the S. side of a brook. The site consists of a small rectangular island, orientated E.-W., 20 m. by 15 m. rising steeply to an almost flat top 7 m. across. The summit is 1.5 m. above the surrounding land. This island is completely surrounded by a ditch now dry, 10 m.-14 m. wide and 2 m. deep, with the remains of a water-channel leading from the brook in the N.W. corner. There is a large, irregular external bank on the W., S. and E. sides, up to 1 m. high, but this appears to be spoil from periodic cleaning of the ditch. The N.E. corner is now almost filled with modern rubbish. It has been suggested that this moat is the site of a house built in the early 16th century by Sir Robert Kirkham, which was demolished in the late 17th century (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 478), but its small size makes this unlikely. Two hundred m. to the S. (at TL 07889131), air photographs (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4383–4) show a rectangular ditched enclosure 100 m. by 75 m., orientated N.-S. No trace of this exists on the surface although a few medieval sherds have been found nearby.
c(21) Deserted medieval village of Papley (TL 105888; Fig. 116; Plates 14 and 15), in the extreme S.W. of the parish on both sides of a small stream draining E. It is entirely on Boulder Clay at between 170 ft. and 200 ft. above OD. Part of the site has been destroyed by ploughing in recent years.
To judge from its name and position Papley seems to have originated as a daughter-hamlet of Warmington. It was probably always small and its subsequent depopulation, apparently in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, was perhaps the result of its small size. The village is not mentioned by name in Domesday Book but is listed as the manor of one and a half hides held by Isembard and Rozelin in Warmington with a recorded population of three villeins (VCH Northants., I (1902), 316; III (1930), 113–4). In 1301 twelve taxpayers are enumerated in the Lay Subsidy Rolls (PRO, E179/155/131) and the village is mentioned in the Nomina Villarum of 1316. In 1456 the manor was sold to William Browne, a wealthy merchant of Stamford, and it subsequently passed to his daughter, Elizabeth Elmes, in 1495. She and her husband destroyed seven houses in Papley and enclosed 200 acres of former common fields there. Their grandson, John Elmes of Lilford was brought before the Court of Star Chamber in 1539 and charged, amongst other things, with having closed up highways in Papley, converted arable land into pasture and impounded cattle on the commons. Witnesses testified that there had been ten houses and four cottages in Papley but by 1539 only two houses were inhabited. The findings of the court are not known but it seems that the decline of the village was in no degree halted by the case.
In 1632 a detailed map of the manor of Papley (in NRO) was commissioned (Plate 15). This shows a large farmhouse within the present moat, and farm buildings to the S. The moat appears to be part of a garden. A pigeon-house further E. and a single house, on the site of the existing Papley Cottages, and called Slades House, are also depicted. These are probably the occupied houses described in the court proceedings of 1539, although the map also marks two other outlying houses within the enclosed fields of the manor (at TL 09798910 and 11018975), as well as three 'sheep pens'. On the later map, of 1685 (NRO), the main house within the moat is shown in a form which seems to indicate that it was ruinous, but the farm buildings, pigeon-house and Slades House were still existing (Plate 15). One of the outlying farms had also disappeared.
In about 1720, J. Bridges claimed that there were only 'three shepherds cottages' (Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 483). By 1802 (NRO, map of Papley Farm), a new farmhouse had been erected just outside the moat, together with other buildings to the N.W. (Plate 15). Sometime after 1834 (1st ed. OS 1 in. map), this was pulled down and in the late 19th century the present two farms, both known as Papley Lodge, were built at some distance from the village site. The two remaining Papley Cottages were occupied until their abandonment a few years ago. The former village is now completely deserted (VCH Northants., II (1930), 117–9; K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 44; CUAP, PK61–64, UC 16–18; RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3399).
The remains of the village of Papley, both extant and recoverable from air photographs, confirm the documentary evidence of its relatively small size. The most prominent feature of the site is a large moat, now bounded by a ditch on only three sides. This probably originated as a normal medieval moat comprising a water-filled ditch entirely surrounding a square island on which the manor house stood. However, it is now bounded on the N.W., S.W. and S.E. by a massive external bank, up to 2 m. high, which is an unusual feature for a medieval moat. The bank is perhaps secondary and may be the result of turning the moat into a garden in the late 15th or early 16th century. The farmhouse, included on the 1632 map, was arranged around an internal courtyard, and lay on the N.E. side of the moat, across the line of the presumed N.E. ditch; the rest of the moat's interior is shown as an orchard or garden. The site of this and of the later house is now occupied by an area of indeterminate low scarps and banks extending to the modern pond. S.E. of this pond further platforms and scarps indicate the site of the barns shown on the 17th-century maps. S.E. and S.W. of the moat the land is now permanent arable, but on air photographs taken before modern destruction, a complex group of ditches and banks can be seen. Those nearest to the moat seem to be the remains of small closes or paddocks associated with the manor house. A large quantity of cobbles and limestone rubble exists here, and a few sherds of medieval and later pottery have been found. These ditches are not depicted on any of the village maps and had presumably been abandoned before the 17th century. N. of the moat a broad open trackway leads down to the brook, and low platforms on its W. side may be the sites of buildings shown on the 1802 map. N. of the stream and E. of Papley Cottages are the remains of one rectangular close having a building-platform within it, and traces of another lie to the E. Further E. the ground has been quarried. Fragments of late medieval window tracery (Plate 24), probably from a domestic building, have been recovered from the modern pond.
(22) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the village of Warmington were enclosed in 1774 by Act of Parliament. Immediately before that date there were four large open fields (NRO, Enclosure Map). In 1393 four fields are recorded but three have names different from those given to the fields enclosed in 1774 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 113).
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, over wide areas, and is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs. The pattern of furlongs in the former Bolwell Field in the N.E., Middle Field in the E. and Deepdale Field in the S.E. is largely recoverable. Ridge-and-furrow also exists in and around the village within fields which were old enclosures in 1774 although this, with its reversed-S form, was probably once part of the common fields (e.g. at TL 081913).
The date of the enclosure of the common fields of the now deserted village of Papley (21) is not known with certainty. Two hundred acres were enclosed in 1499 when part of the village was depopulated and in the early 16th century more land was enclosed. The common fields no longer existed in 1632 (NRO, map of Papley). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields can be traced in a few places within the area of land which belonged to Papley, and this is arranged in interlocked furlongs, some of reversed-S form. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3399–3400, 4222–5, 4399–406, 4380–8; 1925, 1104–16)