Pages 86-89

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 99 NE, b SP 99 SE, c TL 09 NW, d TL 09 SW)

The parish of 1910 hectares occupies a large area extending W. of the R. Nene into the heart of the former Rockingham Forest, between 55 ft. and 300 ft. above OD (Fig. 11). The higher parts are covered with Boulder Clay, but a number of small streams have cut deeply into the underlying rocks and consequently bands of limestones, clays and silts outcrop along their valley sides.

Southwick parish is notable for the densely occupied area in the E., close to the R. Nene, where field work and air photography have revealed the highly complex pattern of prehistoric and Roman settlements (1–9). In addition there are three other Roman sites in the W. of the parish, one of which (10), of considerable size, has some slight evidence of early Saxon occupation.

In the E. of the parish are the remains of the deserted village of Perio (13), perhaps the mother-settlement in medieval times.

Prehistoric and Roman

(1–9) Stone Pit Lodge complex (Fig. 53; Plate 1), consists of a large area of crop and soil-marks as well as archaeological material, lying in the N.E. corner of the parish and extending into Fotheringhay and Woodnewton parishes (see Fotheringhay (21–25)). Only those monuments in Southwick parish are here described. They lie between, and S. of, two small streams flowing to the R. Nene, on gravel and limestone at 65 ft. above OD. (CUAP, ZF27–8; air photographs in NMR)

d(1) Ring ditch (?) (TL 93869301), immediately S.W. of Stone Pit Lodge. Not clear on air photographs. Diam. 7 m. Possibly a hut site connected with (5).

d(2) Ring ditch (TL 03919300), 40 m. E. of (1). Diam. 20 m.; a small eccentric pit is visible.

d(3) Ring ditch (TL 04409268), N.N.W. of Perio Mill. Diam. 18 m. Two short lengths of parallel ditches lie to the W. and S.W. but their relationship to the ring ditch is not clear.

d(4) Ring ditch (TL 04499263), 70 m. S.E. of (3). Diam. 20 m. Within or near this ring ditch the Roman burial (8) was found and the adjacent ditches are probably to be associated with this burial and the Roman settlement (9).

d(5) Enclosure and ditches (centred TL 039930), S. and S.E. of Stone Pit Lodge. None is clear on air photographs, but two parallel ditches, a rectangular enclosure and a possible hut site are traceable.

d(6) Enclosure (TL 04109296), E. of (5) (Plate 1). It is a large sub-rectangular enclosure with a causewayed ditch on the S.E. side; a similar ditch bounds an outer annex. Two large pits are visible in the annex and the enclosure is intersected by short lengths of other ditches. A small excavation in 1972 across one of the causeways revealed that the adjacent ditches were 4 m. wide and 1 m. deep. They contained Iron Age pottery and animal bones. One of the pits had a crouched inhumation in it, accompanied by the leg bone of a sheep, a flat bronze dagger and a single sherd. The dagger is said to be of Early Bronze Age type (BNFAS, 8 (1973), 5; Durobrivae, 1 (1973), 24–5).

d(7) Bridge or wharf remains (?) (TL 04759264), N.E. of Perio Mill on the W. side of the old course of the R. Nene. In about 1950, a row of timber posts some 25 m. long and orientated N.W.-S.E., was found. The posts were 25–30 cm. in diam. and were set 2–3 m. apart. The row was on the projected line of the ditched trackway to the N.W. (Fotheringhay (25)) and may be the remains of a bridge or wharf connected with it.

d(8) Roman burial (TL 04539262), N. of Perio Mill and within or near ring ditch (4). A stone-lined grave, orientated E.-W., contained a female skeleton. Associated with the body were three bronze bracelets and a bronze chain necklace, the lid of a Castor box, and a fragment of roulette-decorated pottery. (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 17; OS Record Cards)

d(9) Roman settlement (centred TL 043925), round Perio Mill and covering at least 10 hectares. The whole area has a dense scatter of Roman pottery, mainly Nene Valley wares, as well as flue and roof tiles and limestone rubble. A series of buildings is indicated. (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 17; 7 (1972), 32; OS Record Cards)

b (10) Roman settlement (centred SP 982932; Fig. 94), around Blackmore Thick Farm on the N. side of a broad valley on Boulder Clay and limestone between 200 ft. and 300 ft. above OD. Finds indicating a large settlement have been discovered over an area of 10 hectares. The remains include the following: (a) Crop-marks (SP 98039336), rather indistinct on air photographs, but comprising a number of ditches, a circular feature and two parallel ditches, perhaps a trackway. (b) Building (SP 98189342) revealed by ploughing. Finds of pottery, including samian, three coin moulds and a silver coin of Hadrian; much building-stone, tiles and pieces of wall-plaster suggest a major building. (c) Kiln (SP 98259331), excavated in 1954, of small updraught type, producing mainly reddish-brown thin-walled flagons; perhaps 1st-century. (d) Ditch (SP 98539328) found when a silage pit was dug in 1954; it was V-shaped and contained Roman pottery. (e) Building (SP 98689319); dense scatter of stone, pottery and the upper part of a quern. (f) Building (?) (SP 99159365); scatter of stone and pottery. (g) Iron-Working Site (SP 980929); a large area of blackened ground with iron slag. A coin of Constantine I is recorded nearby. A decorated Saxon strap-end has been found in the area. (h) Roman Pottery (SP 97909323); large quantities found over a wide area. (i) Miscellaneous Finds (unlocated but from the area) include pottery, quern fragments, coins, and two brooches. In addition a leaf-shaped arrowhead and other flint implements have been found (Air photographs in NMR; RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 4104–5, JRS, XLIV (1954), 93; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 32 and 42; OS Record Cards; inf. J. Hadman). A pot, containing between 150 and 200 denarii, recorded as being found in Bulwick parish in the late 19th century actually came from this site (SP 993938; NM Records; Num. Chron., (NS), XX (1879), 219).

Fig. 94 Southwick (10) Roman settlement

b (11) Roman settlement (SP 99729140), on the S. side of a broad valley on Boulder Clay at 250 ft. above OD. Large quantities of stone, pottery including samian, brick, tile and wall-plaster cover an area at least 50 m. across. Part of a quern has been found further S. and small amounts of pottery exist over a wide area (OS Record Cards). Air photographs (held by Monk's Wood Research Station, Huntingdon) show two incomplete conjoined, rectangular enclosures, orientated N.-S. as well as a probable hut circle.

b(12) Roman settlement (?) (SP 981914) lies in the S.W. of the parish on Boulder Clay at 275 ft. above OD. Quantities of Roman pottery, associated with an area of dark soil, were found in 1964 (NM Records).

Medieval and Later

d(13) Deserted village of Perio (centred TL 04349215; Figs. 11 and 95), along the edge of the R. Nene, S. of the existing Perio Mill, on River Gravel at 60 ft. above OD. The remains, although very slight, are in good condition. Little is known of the history or period of desertion of the site. It presumably originated as the primary settlement of what is now Southwick parish, the village of Southwick perhaps being a daughterhamlet. Neither village is recorded in Domesday Book and Perio is not mentioned by name until c. 1220 (PN Northants., 207). Both Southwick and Perio were taxed together in 1316, and there are occasional references to messuages in both villages. A small medieval hospital, dedicated to St. John and St. Martin and founded in 1282, existed in Perio. It was granted to Cotterstock College in 1329 and became a chantry or free chapel. On an estate map of c. 1600 (at Southwick Hall) the field containing the earthwork remains is called Perio Chapel Close.

The existing remains consist of little more than a series of low ill-defined paddocks and platforms, nowhere more than 1 m. high, immediately E. of the present road and W. of still marshy land alongside the river. At the S. end are the remains of a shallow hollow-way which is presumably the predecessor of the modern road. Digging by local children at two places has produced other remains. At 'a' in the centre of a rectangular platform, pottery probably of 13th or 14th-century date was discovered as well as a rubble floor and tile. At 'b' the edge of the hollow-way was discovered to be defined by a low limestone rubble wall. (K. J. Allison et al., Deserted Villages of Northants., (1966), 44; VCH Northants., II (1906), 163, 591–2; D. Knowles and R. N. Hadcock, Medieval Religious Houses, (1953), 298; OS Record Cards)

Fig. 95 Southwick (13) Deserted village of Perio

b(14) Deserted Medieval Farmstead (SP 98909222), in the W. of the parish, at a springhead, on the S. side of a broad valley on limestone at 200 ft. above OD. The ploughing of a small level platform, some 30 m. square, has revealed a scatter of stone in addition to medieval and post-medieval pottery. A few Roman sherds have also been noted. The site is probably a medieval farmstead, associated with the clearance or assarting of forest in the area. Such assarts are recorded in the parish in 1381. (VCH Northants., II (1906), 592; OS Record Cards)

d(15) Mound (TL 02129192), in the pasture field, 150 m. S.S.E. of Southwick church. It is oval, 12 m. by 7 m. and 1.5 m. high, with a rounded top and is surrounded by ridge-and-furrow. Its purpose is unknown, but it may be the site of a windmill.

(16) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure of the common fields of the parish is unknown, but it had taken place before 1834 (NRO, map of estate). The area around Stone Pit Farm was already enclosed by about 1720 (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 469). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground, or can be seen on air photographs, over much of the parish. It is arranged mainly in end-on furlongs set at right angles to Southwick Brook which flows E. across the parish. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3093–3108, 4100–8, 4230–45; 1925, 1113–32; 1891, 2217–21)