Stoke Doyle

Pages 89-92

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 NE, b TL 08 NW)

The parish, covering 580 hectares, occupies a strip of land S. of Oundle. It rises gently from the R. Nene, which forms its E. boundary at 70 ft. above OD, westwards to a maximum of 230 ft. above OD. In the W. the parish extends into the valley of Lyveden Brook, here some 170 ft. above OD. The higher parts of the parish are on Boulder Clay, but the down-cutting of various tributary streams have exposed large areas of Oxford Clay; around the village, broad flat limestone bands outcrop. The latter areas have produced evidence of considerable prehistoric or Roman settlement (1–4 and 6); two other Roman occupation sites (5 and 7) have been discovered on high land in the W. of the parish.

The village is notable for the extensive remains of former occupation in and around the valley of a small brook S. and S.E. of the church (8–10). These suggest a marked change in the village morphology at an unknown date.

Prehistoric and Roman

b(1) Ring Ditch and Linear Ditches (TL 03218636), W. of the village on limestone at 100 ft. above OD. Diam. of ring ditch 15 m. To the S. (TL 02918635–03268633), air photographs show two parallel ditches, 10 m. apart, possibly a trackway running almost E.-W. (CUAP, ARZ66).

b(2–4) Enclosures and Linear Ditches (Fig. 96), S. of the village on a broad area of limestone and clay sloping N.E. between 100 ft. and 150 ft. above OD. They are only visible on air photographs and, except from (2), no surface finds from them are known (CUAP, ZF14–18; NMR).

b(2) Enclosure (TL 02358575), S.S.W. of Stoke Doyle Manor House. The enclosure is sub-rectangular with an entrance on the S. side and linear ditches running E.-W. are attached to the W. sides. Roman pottery has been found. (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 42)

b(3) Enclosures and ditches (centred TL 026855), 400 m. S.E. of (2). Air photographs show an incomplete complex of enclosures, ditches and a possible ring ditch, but the remains are not clearly visible.

b(4) Enclosures (TL 03408570), 500 m. N.E. of (3). The site consists of two adjacent enclosures and a short length of two parallel ditches, possibly a trackway.

b(5) Roman Buildings (TL 000863), close to the parish boundary with Pilton on the upper slopes of the Lyveden Valley on Boulder Clay at 250 ft. above OD. A dense scatter of Roman pottery, including samian, is associated with at least five clearlydefined areas of limestone rubble, all probably buildings. (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 32; 8 (1973), 17)

b (6) Roman Settlement (?) (TL 033865), close to the R. Nene on River Gravel at 80 ft. above OD. Roman pottery and limestone blocks were discovered during ditching operations in 1970 and subsequently more pottery has been found in the surrounding area.

b(7) Roman Settlement (?) (TL 00108657), in and around the site of a medieval moat (see (11) below). Roman pottery, limestone slabs and flint cobbles have been ploughed up, but the limestone and cobbles may be associated with the moat. (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 42)

Medieval and Later

b(8) Settlement Remains (centred TL 026861; Fig. 97) formerly part of Stoke Doyle village, lie on both sides of a small valley S.E. of the present village, and around the manor house and rectory on limestone between 100 ft. and 120 ft. above OD.

There is no documentary record of any major desertion having taken place, or of any marked reduction of population. The remains may indicate the gradual movement of the village from its original valley-bottom site to the present N.-S. through-road from Oundle to Aldwincle. Alternatively, the settlement may have been moved deliberately at some time in the post-medieval period when the former manor house, which was pulled down in 1870 and replaced by the present building, was erected.

Fig. 96 Pilton (1) and Stoke Doyle (2–4) Crop-marks

The remains, excluding a pillow mound (9) and a moat (10) described separately below, fall into three separate groups. S. of the brook and immediately W. of the manor house (centred TL 02458605) is a group of complex earthworks without a coherent plan except for the indications of an embanked and hollowed trackway crossing the area from N.-S. ('a'-'b' on Fig. 97). To the W. of this track, on the upper slope of the valley, are several larger earthworks up to 1.5 m. high, which include rectangular platforms set into the hillside and which may be the sites of buildings. E. of the track are slighter and more indeterminate remains. To the S.E. of the manor house and its buildings close to the stream are other earthworks (TL 02808590). These include a pillow mound (9), and a partlyhollowed trackway ('c'-'d' on Fig. 97) which probably represents the line of an old road. S. of this track are several low scarps and banks including at least two rectangular buildingplatforms. N. of the stream, on the steep slopes of the valley, is a further series of low scarps and platforms some of which appear to have been cut by the present road to the rectory (TL 02508626–02798604). The site also includes two rectangular fishponds N.E. of the manor house (TL 02698605) now much altered and mutilated. Small quantities of Saxon and medieval pottery have been found in the fields to the N. of the now isolated church (TL 027863) and N.E. of the Rectory (TL 030861). (inf. J. A. Hadman and D. A. Jackson; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 6)

Fig. 97 Stoke Doyle (8) Settlement remains, (9) pillow mound and (10) moat

b(9) Pillow Mound (TL 02738592; Figs. 97 and 98), within the area of the settlement remains (8), S.E. of the manor house on the side of the valley. The mound is long, rectangular and flat-topped, 22 m. long and 7 m. wide overall and nowhere more than 0.5 m. high. It is set askew to the general slope of the valley side, and is surrounded on the W., S. and part of the E. side by a shallow ditch less than 0.3 m. deep. There is no indication of its purpose, but from its general situation it is likely to be medieval or later in date.

b(10) Moat (TL 02858595; Fig. 97), in the bottom of a valley at the S.E. end of the settlement remains (8). A ditch, now dry, up to 15 m. wide and 2 m. deep, surrounds an irregular rectangular area. Water was formerly brought into the ditch from the adjacent stream by an inlet channel in the N.W. corner and ponded up by a low outer bank which survives along the E. side and S.E. corner of the moat. The interior is occupied by a rectangular depression, 1 m. deep, and by a slight scarp which may be the site of a former building.

b(11) Moat (TL 00108657) lay in the extreme N.W. of the parish, on clay at 150 ft. above OD. Only an L-shaped pond now survives, and this has been widened for cattle-drinking. Air photographs show the remainder of the ditch as a crop-mark and indicate that the site was a simple square enclosure about 30 m. across, completely surrounded by a ditch 10 m. wide. No entrance or interior features are visible. Limestone slabs, cobbles and Roman pottery have been found. (see (7) above; RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3418–9)

b(12) Site of Water-mill (?) (TL 03208597), S.E. of the village in the bed of a small stream draining E. to the R. Nene. A deeply cut low-lying area, now dry, appears to be a mill pond, and an earthen dam on the downstream side is possibly the site of a water-mill.

(13) Cultivation Remains. The precise date of enclosure of the common fields of the parish is not known but it had certainly taken place before 1720 (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 376). To judge from field names in 17th-century terriers (NRO), enclosure occurred in the middle of that century. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, over a large area S. and W. of the village and less completely to the E. and N.E. It is wholly arranged in interlocked furlongs mostly with markedly reversed-S curves. (RAF VAP CPE/UK 2109, 3411–19; 541/602, 3053–8)

Fig. 98 Stoke Doyle (9) Pillow mound (contour interval in feet)