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 NW, b SP 98 NE, c SP 98 SW, d SP 98 SE)
The large parish covers some 2460 hectares of land between 380 ft. and 140 ft. above OD lying across the valley of Harper's Brook, here draining S.E. towards the R. Nene. Apart from small areas of limestones and marls exposed in narrow bands along the valley and its tributaries, the whole parish is on the Boulder or Oxford Clays.
The relatively large number of pre-Saxon sites which have been recorded in the parish is largely due to the accident of survival and to systematic field investigation. The apparently prehistoric sites (1–3) lie within the large medieval deer parks (11) which cover most of the S.W. part of the parish where little ploughing took place until relatively recently. The discovery of Roman settlements in the E. of the parish, including the temple complex (4–7), is the result of thorough investigation in the Lyveden valley.
The undated linear earthwork or earthworks (13), W. of the village and also within the deer park, is unexplained. It appears to have no purpose in the context of the park and its partial destruction by medieval or perhaps 17th-century ploughing might suggest that it is pre-medieval.
Prehistoric and Roman
c(1) Enclosure (SP 92538422; Fig. 32) in the W. of the parish, on a low E.-facing spur at 325 ft. above OD on Boulder Clay. It consists of a circular bank with an external ditch and a probable entrance on the E. side. Ploughing has reduced the bank to a height of 0.5 m. (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 5; RAF VAP CPE/UK 2405, 4027).
c(2) Barrow (SP 92528421; Fig. 32), immediately S.W. of (1) and in a similar position. It consists of a mound 14 m. in diam. surrounded by a shallow ditch, and has been reduced by ploughing to 0.5 m. in height.
c(3) Enclosure (SP 92908421), 370 m. E. of (1) and in a similar position. It is of roughly trapezoidal shape, 25 m. by 15 m., and is bounded by a low bank and external ditch, reduced by ploughing to less than 0.5 m. There is no trace of an entrance. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2405, 4027)
b(4) Iron Age and Roman settlement and Roman temple (SP 961858) lie in the E. of the parish on high ground at just over 300 ft. above OD on Boulder Clay. Excavation in 1961 and 1970 revealed stone buildings, three circular and one polygonal, lying inside and on top of an Iron Age ditch. The temple was apparently erected in the 3rd century and continued in use until the late 4th. Finds include many coins of the 1st to 4th centuries, pottery, and bronze statuettes of horses and riders. Iron Age pottery has also been found further to the N. (at SP 95988605). (Ant. J., XLIII (1963), 228–59; XXXVII (1957), 71–2; XXXVIII (1958), 245–6; M. J. T. Lewis, Temples in Roman Britain, (1965), 80; MOW, Archaeological Excavations 1970, (1971), 21; J. Northants. Mus. and Art Gal., V (1969), 48–9)
Scatters of Roman pottery have been found further to the S.E. around SP 963857 (OS Record Cards; BNFAS, 3 (1969), 7), and tiles, pottery and one mid 3rd-century coin have been discovered 200 m. to the E. of the temple (SP 963859) (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 6–7). These finds are probably to be associated with it.
b(5) Roman settlement (?) (SP 973856), on the S. side of the Lyveden Brook on Boulder Clay and about 250 ft. above OD. Scatters of Roman pottery have been found at SP 97448565, 97278550 and 97478535 (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 7; OS Record Cards).
b(6) Roman settlement (SP 97258617), on the crest of a spur at 270 ft. above OD on Boulder Clay. Roman pottery, tiles, limestone, etc. have been found. A very indistinct subrectangular enclosure, covering about 1.5 hectares, is visible on air photographs, surrounding the area of finds. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3423–4; J. Northants. Mus. and Art Gal., 5 (1969), 49)
b(7) Roman settlement (SP 977861), 400 m. E. of (6) near a stream on Oxford Clay at 220 ft. above OD. Much Roman pottery and part of a quern have been discovered. (J. Northants. Mus. and Art Gal., op. cit.)
c(8) Roman settlement (?) (SP 929854), at Chase Farm, on the S. side of a small valley on glacial sands and gravel at 225 ft. above OD. During the digging of a pit, Roman pottery and part of a quern were found (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 7).
For Roman Road 57a, see p. 117.
Medieval and Later
(9) Saxon settlement (unlocated). One or more Saxon 'houses' were found at Brigstock by Wyman Abbot shortly before the Second World War. No details. (OS Record Cards)
a(10) Moat (SP 94538523), around Brigstock Manor House on the S.W. side of the village, in a small valley. Only slight traces of the surrounding ditch, now a sunken garden, remain. The central island was rectangular, 50 m. by 30 m., orientated N.E.-S.W., and apparently completely surrounded by a ditch 7 m. wide; it is depicted on a map of 1725 (NRO) as having no S.W. side. The interior is occupied by a much-restored 16th-century house.
acd(11) Deer parks (centred SP 9283; Fig. 33) occupy the greater portion of the S.W. part of the parish, covering nearly 890 hectares, mainly on Boulder Clay, lying between 175 ft. and 380 ft. above OD. Little is known of the early history of these parks but the details of their final abandonment in the 17th century are well recorded (P. A. J. Pettit, 'The Royal Forests of Northants.', Pubs. Northants. Record Soc., XXIII (1968), 164–182). There appear to have been two separate but adjacent parks probably of different dates. The larger known as Great Park covered some 580 hectares and lay S.W. of the village while the smaller, called Little Park, extended to about 300 hectares, and was situated to the S. The irregular boundary along the N.E. side of Little Park might indicate that it was enclosed after the formation of the existing fields beyond it, which are shown as 'old enclosures' on all early maps. The existence of ridge-and-furrow (12) within both parks indicates that much of the land has been previously ploughed. Some of it is probably medieval although certainly some land was illegally put down to arable in 1643–4 (Pettit, op. cit., 176).
The boundaries of the two combined parks are recorded on a number of maps (NRO, maps of Brigstock, 1728 and 1734; Hatfield House, map of Brigstock Park, 1635) and can be traced on the ground. No indication of any division bank between the two parks along the Grafton-Brigstock road can be found. The boundary is best preserved on the N. side of Great Park, along the line of a green lane from Brigstock to Geddington (SP 93558561–91178394). Here, except around Chase Farm (SP 929854), and S. of Pale Hill (SP 91808448 and 91468412), a well-marked bank, usually between 0.5 and 2 m. high and up to 4 m. wide, with a much mutilated inner ditch, 3 m. wide and 0.5 m. deep, is clearly traceable. To the S.W. of Pale Hill (SP 91178394) the park boundary turns S. along the BrigstockGeddington parish boundary and is still marked by a low bank, nowhere much above 0.5 m. high, and by an inner ditch where not obliterated by modern ploughing. On the N. side of Boughton Wood (SP 91288265) the park boundary turns E. and runs along the N. side of a small E.-flowing brook. Al though the bank exists in some places along this section, it is now mainly reduced to a simple scarp. The internal ditch, up to 4 m. wide, still survives up-slope of it. To the N.E. of Old Head Wood (SP 93408274) the boundary crosses the GraftonBrigstock road, turns S. and runs as far as the N. corner of Grafton Park Wood (SP 93508200) as a large bank, up to 5 m. wide and 1.5 m. high, still with traces of an internal ditch. It then skirts the wood and turns E. to the S.W. corner of Long Lown Wood (SP 94918128) where it meets the E. side of the Drayton Deer Park (Lowick (6)). Along this section the bounds survive only as a small bank. The E. side of Long Lown and Snapes Woods is marked by a large bank belonging to Drayton Park, and there is no indication of a separate boundary for Brigstock Little Park which is therefore likely to be of later date than Drayton Park. Beyond Snapes Wood the boundary runs along curving modern hedgerows (to SP 95168355) again marked only by a low bank. After a short break it reappears as little more than a large hedge bank, following an irregular line, until it reaches the Grafton Road again (SP 94208405). To the N.W. of the road the boundary can be traced all the way to the Geddington green lane, but only as a very low bank, with traces of a slight and ploughed-out inner ditch.
(12) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1795 (NRO, Enclosure Map of 1805). Immediately prior to that date there were five common fields occupying only a small part of the parish around the village. On a map of 1725 (NRO) the same situation is depicted, but the individual strips are shown. These strips agree exactly with the remains of ridge-and-furrow which can be seen on the ground, or traced on air photographs, in a number of places. N. of the village in the former West Field (SP 945861) a single furlong of reversed-S form exists, and S.E. of it, in the former Causin and Harlow Fields (SP 948858 and 949854), there are C-curved furlongs; a similar furlong is traceable in the former Park Field (SP 952831). Beyond these common fields there were in 1725 and 1805 extensive areas of old enclosures some of which were originally part of the common fields. W. of the village (SP 937852), ridge-and-furrow still exists in one of these enclosures which was probably once part of Colage Field. In the S. of the parish traces of ridgeand-furrow remain N. and N.E. of Grafton Park Wood in isolated slightly curved blocks (e.g. at SP 934825, 939828 and 945830). Although this part of the parish lay within Brigstock Park (NRO, map of Brigstock Parks, 1728), it is probably a late-medieval extension of the earlier Park to the W. (11). The remaining ridge-and-furrow may be the result of medieval cultivation but illegal ploughing took place in the parish in 1643–4. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3421–36; 540/474, 3053–4, 4007–8; 540/664, 4006–8; P. A.J. Pettit, 'The Royal Forests of Northants.', Pubs. Northants. Record Soc., (1968), 164–82)
c(13) Linear banks and ditches (SP 93558490–93618450 and 93628437–93688425; Fig. 34), immediately inside the Deer Park (11) and near its E. side. The two separate banks, which may have been a continuous feature, both span small valleys cut into the underlying Oxford Clay.
The N. section consists of a bank, 12 m. wide and up to 1.5 m. high, with a continuous ditch on the E. side, 12 m. wide and up to 1 m. deep. There are three gaps through it. The central one, taking a small stream, is a straight cut but the others are complex. The gap to the N. has a ditch on the W. of its bank and curving into it, while the S. one has markedly out-turned flanks. Neither has a stream near it. The N. end of the bank extends a little way into a field, now ploughed, and may have run further N. A crop-mark to the N., visible on the ground, may be the former ditch. At the S. end the bank ends with a sharp corner.
The S. section is shorter and less well-preserved. On the N. side of the valley the bank has been reduced by modern cultivation to a scarp, under 1 m. high, and the ditch is only just traceable. S. of the stream a short section of bank, much mutilated, survives but is cut short at its S. end by medieval and later ploughing and may have once extended further. Despite their different alignments the two sections were possibly once a continuous feature but the date and purpose of these works are unknown. Although the banks span two valleys they are certainly not dams for the retention of water as they extend too far up the valley sides.