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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'Collyweston', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire, (London, 1975) pp. 29-32. British History Online [accessed 18 April 2024]


(OS 1:10000 a SK 90 SE, b TF 00 SW)

The parish, covering 630 hectares, lies on the E. side of the Welland valley against the former Rutland boundary. The greater part consists of a level limestone tableland about 300 ft. above OD, but on the W. the land falls steeply to the R. Welland here flowing at about 100 ft. above OD.

Air photography has revealed a series of ring ditches (2–5) and pit alignments (1) the latter being of some interest because of their position. The most notable medieval and later remains are those of the house, with its gardens and fishponds (8), which had royal associations.

Prehistoric and Roman

Fig. 40 Collyweston (1–5) Crop-marks

b(1) Pit alignments and ditches (around TF 000023 and 001028; Fig. 40), lie S.E. of the village on flat ground at 300 ft. above OD on sandy limestone. Air photographs show the junction of two lengths of pit alignments as well as other linear ditches. A linear crop-mark, visible on air photographs running N.-S. (not shown on Fig. 40), is a pipeline trench. The site is of some interest in showing pit alignments on relatively high land in contrast to their usual setting in river valleys. (CUAP, AFZ 76, BCD 84)

b(2) Ring ditch (TF 00120272; Fig. 40), E. of the main N.-S. pit alignment (1). Diam. 15 m. (CUAP, BCD 84)

b(3) Ring ditch (TF 00150268; Fig. 40), 20 m. S.E. of (2). Diam. 10 m. (CUAP, BCD 84)

b(4) Ring ditch (TF 00170271; Fig. 40), 25 m. E. of (2). Diam. 12 m. (CUAP, BCD 84)

b(5) Ring ditch (TF 00340275; Fig. 40), 220 m. E. of (2). Diam. 12 m. A short length of ditch cuts across it. (CUAP, BCD 84)

b(6) Roman temples (TF 00730058) lie in Collyweston Great Wood on rocks of the Upper Estuarine Series, at 275 ft. above OD. A group of dry-stone walled buildings, including two rectangular, one circular, one octagonal and one hexagonal, was excavated after partial destruction. Pottery and worked stone in the surrounding area indicated other buildings. The pottery found ranged from the 1st to the early 4th centuries (JRS, (1954), 133–4; Arch. J., 122 (1965), 52–72; M.J. T. Lewis, Temples in Roman Britain (1971), 80–81).

a(7) Roman settlement (?) (SK 99560228), S. of the village on a W.-facing slope at 280 ft. above OD on limestone. Roman pottery is said to have been found in an old quarry (OS Record Cards) and pottery and roof tiles have been noted on adjacent land.

Medieval and Later

a(8) Site of Collyweston House, gardens, fishponds and park (centred SK 991029; Figs. 41 and 47) lies immediately W. of the village on steeply sloping land, underlain by clays, sands and limestones between 100 ft. and 250 ft. above OD.

After an uneventful history the manor of Collyweston was sold, soon after 1412, to Sir William Porter who is traditionally said to have been lowly-born but to have later acquired wealth. He is also thought to have begun the building of Collyweston House. After his death the land and house were sold in 1441 to Ralph Lord Cromwell, who lived at Collyweston and apparently enlarged or rebuilt the house. There followed an illdocumented and confused period of ownership, but by the end of the 15th century the house had passed into the hands of the Crown. By this time the park was already in existence; it was probably enclosed either by Porter or by Cromwell. The Crown's first tenant, Margaret Countess of Richmond, was granted the manor in 1486. She spent a considerable time there and is said to have improved the house and grounds. After her death in 1509, it was used by the Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth. There is mention of a 'great walnut tree in the outward court' in Tudor times. In 1607 Camden recorded that the house was handsome and elegant. Charles I granted the manor to Patrick Mawle who later sold it to Sir Robert Heath. In 1631 Heath obtained permission to enclose a new park from the woodlands, because the old park 'is of but 108 acres and has no covert'. This new park, if it was ever made, was perhaps in the S. of the parish, and centred on Collyweston Great Wood. By 1720 the house is said to have been entirely pulled down and the park disparked; the 'materials' from it were finally removed in 1780–82 (VCH Northants., II (1906), 551–3; Ass. Arch. Soc. Rep., XXVIII (1906), 569–74; Earl of Exeter's Day Books, 1780–82, Burghley Estate Office, Stamford).

The House stood on the crest of the slope at the W. edge of the village (SK 99450287). No trace remains, except for a high stone wall of 17th or 18th-century date enclosing the site, an elaborate sundial of the 18th century and a set of well-marked scarps up to 1.5 m. high in an area largely landscaped in the late 19th century. The adjacent areas to the S. and W. have been mostly built over and divided into gardens and paddocks, but remains of the Gardens exist in two places. To the S.S.E. of the House ('a' on Fig. 41) is a group of long terraces and platforms, separated by scarps up to 0.5 m. high, mostly running parallel to the natural slope; these terraces may be the remains of a long rectangular garden set axially with the house. To the W. of the House ('b' on Fig. 41) are two rather degraded terraces up to 1.5 m. high and below them a set of smaller terraces together with a bank which is the remains of a stone wall. These also appear to be parts of a formal garden.

Immediately S.W. is a long rectangular Fishpond ('c' on Fig. 41), now broken into three parts, and set along the contours. The water was retained by a massive bank up to 3.5 m. high on the down-slope side. Uphill from this pond are other terraces and a small sub-rectangular pond which may be part of the garden layout. Further N.W. is another long rectangular Fishpond ('d' on Fig. 41), with a retaining bank only 1 m. high. All these ponds were filled by a series of small streams which break out from a spring-line at the junction of the clay and sand along the upper part of the slope.

All the above remains, as well as two pillow mounds (9) and (10), lie within a large Park which occupies some 70 hectares (Fig. 47). Its exact area can be ascertained from the various field names incorporating the word 'Park' shown on the Enclosure and Tithe Maps of the parish, both dated 1842 (NRO). The actual bounds of the park are less well-defined, the W. boundary is the R. Welland, while most of the S. boundary (SK 98600252–99350230) is marked by a low bank surmounted by the remains of a largely rebuilt dry-stone wall. No definite evidence of the E. boundary can be traced, except at its N. end (SK 99150324–99120358), S. of Collyweston Bridge, where another low bank, on the E. side of a wide drainage channel, has the footings and rubble of a former dry-stone wall on it. Within the park are also the extensive remains of ridge-and-furrow which presumably pre-date it.

a(9) Pillow mound (SK 99360263; Fig. 41), immediately S. of the remains of the gardens of Collyweston House (8) on a W.-facing slope, on limestone at 225 ft. above OD. It is situated within an area of ground which shows no evidence of medieval ridge-and-furrow. The low, rectangular, flat-topped mound is 13 m. long, 4 m. wide and 0.3 m. high and is surrounded by a shallow ditch 3 m. wide. There is a later cut across the centre of the mound.

a(10) Pillow mound (SK 99400258; Fig. 41), S. of (9), in a similar position, is laid out on top of, and orientated with, ridge-and-furrow. The mound, low, rectangular and flat-topped, is 18 m. long, 5 m. wide and 0.3 m. high and is surrounded by a shallow ditch 3 m. wide. There is a later cut across the centre of the mound.

Fig. 41 Collyweston (8) Site of house, gardens and fishponds, (9 and 10) pillow mounds

ab(11) Quarries (SK 999029, TF 000030 and 004037, etc.), covering large areas on limestone N. and E. of the village. These are the remains of quarries worked from at least as early as the Roman period for the well-known Collyweston Slate, used widely as roofing material. The slate is a fissile sandy limestone at the base of the Lower Lincolnshire Limestone and was either worked in open quarries or mined from small shafts. Remains of both types of workings are visible. The blocks of limestone were laid out on the ground, with the bedding planes vertical, and kept watered to prevent drying out. They were then split into thin layers by hand, often helped by frost action. (see also Easton-on-the-Hill (4))

(12) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1841 (NRO, Enclosure Map, 1842). Immediately before that time there were open fields, and within the bounds of each, ridge-and-furrow exists, or can be traced on air photographs. On steeply sloping land falling to the R. Welland, N.W. of the village (SK 995040), are the remains of long, reversed-S furlongs up to 300 m. in length running across the contours. These lay in the former Hill Field. Comparable but much shorter ridges in a similar situation, and formerly in Conduit Field, remain S.W. of the village (SK 987023). Another small block lies E. of the village and within the former Wood Field (TF 001028).

Immediately W. of the village within the Deer Park (8) and surrounding the site of the gardens and fishponds of Collyweston House, are considerable areas of ridge-and-furrow arranged in end-on furlongs of reversed-S form laid out across the valley side. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1891, 4049–52; 1925, 4118–24; 2109, 3023–8, 4027–9)


a(13) Enclosure (?) (unlocated, but perhaps around SK 9903) was recorded by William Stukeley in the mid 18th century. He examined what he called a Roman Camp on Collyweston Hill, N. of the village, which was '200 ft. square'. The enclosure was apparently bounded by a rampart the S. side of which was 'very intire' and the N. side partly so. The ramparts on the E. and W. were 'thrown down and ploughed over'. There was no trace of a ditch. (Surtees Soc., (1885), 54 and 55). No remains are now visible on the ground.