Pages 70-72

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 NW, b TL 08 NE)

The parish, covering some 800 hectares, occupies an irregular area of land W. of the R. Nene, on both sides of Lyveden Brook which joins the Nene just S. of the town. Along the valley of the brook and on the lower ground around the town, limestones and marls outcrop. On the higher W. parts are deposits of clay which are mainly overlain by Boulder Clay.

The importance of this settlement, continuously occupied from the Iron Age and Roman periods (see (9)), was further emphasised in the Saxon era by the establishment of St. Wilfred's monastery. The equally large Roman settlement-area, N.E. of Oundle (Ashton (2–4)), is also relevant in this context.

Prehistoric and Roman

a(1) Ring ditch (TL 04958794), close to the R. Nene, on river gravel at 70 ft. above OD immediately E. of the derelict railway. Diam. 10 m. (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 16; air photographs in NMR).

a(2) Ring ditch (?) (TL 04968791), immediately S.E. of (1). Only part of a circular ditch is visible on air photographs. Diam. 12 m. (air photographs in NMR).

a(3) Ring ditch (TL 04958788) lies immediately S.W. of (2). Diam. 10 m. (air photographs in NMR).

a(4) Linear ditches and possible Roman settlement (centred TL 049879), between and N. of (1–3). Four linear ditches, all roughly parallel, orientated E.-W. and traceable for only 120 m., lie in the area of the ring ditches but do not intersect them. Within the same field Roman pottery and building material, as well as a small quantity of pottery, apparently Iron Age, have been found. (inf. J. A. Hadman; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 30)

a(5) Bronze Age burials (TL 03338794) found in 1965–6 in the cemetery S.E. of Oundle, on limestone at 100 ft. above OD. Five or six Collared Urns, reputed to be from a flat urnfield, were discovered. (PM; BNFAS, 3 (1969), 6)

All were apparently found inverted in shallow pits, filled with ash and charcoal, over which limestone slabs had been placed. Calcined bones were also found (notes made by the Oundle School Local History Club, copy in NMR; Wellingborough Evening Telegraph, 8 Feb. 1966).

a(6) Bronze Age Burials (unlocated) said to have been found before 1867 in a barrow near Oundle. Associated with the burials were two Collared Urns, one of them of the Primary Series, possibly from the same site as (5) above. (BM; PSA, 2nd Ser., IV (1868), 128; VCH Northants., I (1902), 142 and 155; J. Abercromby, Bronze Age Pottery, II (1912), pl. LXVIII, no. 82 and pl. LXIX, no. 87; PPS, XXVIII (1961), 297, no. 121).

a(7) Enclosure (TL 008885), in the W. of the parish, on the side of a small valley, on glacial sands and gravels at 200 ft. above OD. Air photographs show an indistinct rectangular enclosure covering 0.2 hectares, with two small square enclosures within it. A ditched trackway passes along the S.E. side of the main enclosure. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4371–2)

a(8) Settlement (TL 024872; Fig. 80), immediately S.W. of Oundle Lodge on Cornbrash at 140 ft. above OD. Air photographs show a group of enclosures on both sides of, and intersecting, a ditched trackway running E.-W. (Air photographs in NMR)

Fig. 80 Oundle (8) Crop-marks

a(9) Iron Age and Roman finds (centred TL 042882?). Iron Age and Roman material (from Oundle), mostly unlocated, is recorded but some at least comes from in and around the present town and may indicate a settlement there of considerable size. Part of a Roman cup 'resembling samian' and stamped OF LIBERTI, possibly Arretine Ware, was found in the early 19th century in Oundle churchyard (Murray's Handbook for Travellers in Northants., (1878), 46; VCH Northants., I (1902), 219 and fig. 35; Collectanea Antiqua, 4 (1857), 63). Numbers of Iron Age coins have been found in and around the town (J. Evans, Ancient british Coins (1864), 235, 258, 304, 321, and 326; J. Evans, Ancient British Coins Supplement (1890), 434 and 444; Brit. Num. J., XXI (1931–33), 4; S. S. Frere (ed.), Problems of the Iron Age in Southern Britain, (1958), 181, 234). Roman pottery, skeletons, bronze pins, coins and kiln bars, have also been found (VCH op. cit.; Arch. J., X (1853), 259; XI (1854), 27; PSA 2nd ser. XXII (1902), 198).

Fig. 81 Oundle (13) Deer park

a(10) Roman settlement (?) (TL 022875), N.W. of Oundle Lodge, on Cornbrash at 150 ft. above OD. Roman pottery and one coin have been found (inf. J. A. Hadman; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 30).

a(11) Roman iron works (centred TL 012878?) are said to have been found in Oundle Wood. Iron slag, Roman pottery and coins, are recorded. (Arch. J., XXXV (1878), 268; VCH Northants., I (1902), 219)

Medieval and Later

For deserted village of Churchfield, see Benefield (5)

a(12) Moat (TL 01148759), immediately N.W. of Wakerley Lodge on Boulder Clay at 230 ft. above OD. It was apparently complete in the 19th century, but now only the N.E. side of the ditch around a small square island remains in a mutilated state. (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 37)

a(13) Deer park (centred TL 016888; Fig. 81), in the W. of the parish on Boulder Clay, around 200 ft. above OD. It now extends into Benefield parish, but before modern boundary changes lay entirely within Oundle parish. The park is first mentioned in 1327 when the Abbot of Peterborough had the grant of a deer-leap there (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 412) but it probably dates from the late 12th century when Abbot Benedict of Peterborough built the 'New Place' or Biggin Grange. Its later history is ill-recorded nor is the date when it was disparked known. Its general location is identifiable by the name Park Wood on modern maps, and Park Wood Closes on the Enclosure Map of Oundle, 1810 (NRO).

The park covered some 110 hectares around and S.E. of Biggin Hall, and the enclosing bank, still preserved up to 2 m. high and 8 m. wide, and with traces of an inner ditch, is visible for most of its length. Its S.W. side is particularly well marked along the modern road (A427) from Oundle to Benefield, which swings in a broad arc following the edge of the park. (Northants. N. and Q., (1911), 25–6; RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4371–3, 4414–6)

(14) Cultivation remains. The common fields were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1807 (NRO, Enclosure Map of 1810) but immediately before that date there were four open fields. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields can be traced on air photographs over much of the parish. Two furlongs of slightly curved ridge-and-furrow exist in the extreme S.E. in the former Scythe Field (TL 053870). There are more extensive remains N.W., W. and S.W. of the town in the former Hill, Pexley and Hawhill Fields, arranged mainly in end-on furlongs of curved form. These are especially well marked N.E. of Biggin Lodge (TL 026887), along the S. side of the Churchfield Brook (TL 025878), and E. and S. of Oundle Lodge (TL 027875 and 025871).

Ridge-and-furrow also exists in areas which were 'Old Enclosures' in 1810. That S. of Oundle Wood (TL 013874) is confined to the existing fields and is perhaps to be associated with the moated site at Wakerley Lodge (12). That in Biggin Hall Park (TL 015885) which lies within the medieval deer park (13) is arranged in interlocked furlongs and perhaps once belonged to the medieval settlement of Biggin (see also Benefield (14)). (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3408–17, 4371–9, 4409–18)