Pages 120-123

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 2, Archaeological Sites in Central Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1979.

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(OS 1:10000 a SP 76 NE, b SP 76 SE, c SP 86 NW, d SP 86 SW)

The almost rectangular parish, covering more than 710 hectares, lies N.E. of Northampton. The land slopes gently from 122 m. above OD in the N. to 91 m. above OD in the S., and is crossed by a number of S.-flowing tributaries of the R. Nene. Small patches of Boulder Clay remain on the higher ground, but Northampton Sand and rocks of the Lower Estuarine Series comprise the greater part of the area, with Upper Lias Clay exposed in the bottom of the valleys. Little prehistoric or Roman material has been discovered in the parish, and the main monument is the deserted village of Over-stone (6), which lies within Overstone Park. There are records of a medieval deer park in the parish, but no physical remains can be found (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 195–6).

Prehistoric and Roman

A flint axe was found in 1973 (at around SP 807669; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 85).

c(1) Enclosure or Ring Ditch (SP 809675), N. of the village, on sand at 107 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show vague cropmarks of at least one ring ditch or oval enclosure with a number of short lengths of linear ditch near by (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 16, Overstone (1)). Within this area a large quantity of flint tools has been found, including scrapers, blades and cores (CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 5 (1975), 10–11).

a(2) Roman Settlement (SP 797657), W. of Overstone Park, on sand at 98 m. above OD. Roman pottery of 2nd to 4th-century date, roof tiles, iron slag, a number of 3rd and 4th-century coins, limestone rubble and part of a quern have been found (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 16, Overstone (2); Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 95).

Fig. 111 Overstone (6) Deserted village of Overstone, (7) Garden remains

a(3) Roman Settlement (SP 793677), in the N.W. of the parish, on sand at 115 m. above OD. Roman pottery, associated with large areas of stone and pebbles, has been noted (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 158).

a(4) Roman Settlement (SP 795678), 250 m. N.E. of (3), in a similar position. Roman pottery has been found in quantities indicating an occupation site (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 158).

a(5) Roman Settlement (SP 797679), 200 m. N.E. of (4), in a similar position. Roman pottery, associated with a large area of stone and pebbles, has been noted (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 158).

Medieval and Later

c(6) Deserted Village of Overstone (SP 806657; Fig. 111), lies immediately N.W. of Overstone Hall, on Northampton Sand between 91 m. and 107 m. above OD. It is first recorded in 1167 but it is almost certainly included silently with Sywell in Domesday Book. The medieval taxation records suggest a village of modest size, and in 1392 a rental lists 53 tenants of the single manor of the village. Thereafter there appears to be a reduction in size, for a later rental of 1482 includes deductions of rent for eight messuages and three cottages destroyed or fallen into ruin. In 1672 the manor and village passed to Edward Stratford and at that time a total of thirty houses are listed in an indenture. A contemporary map shows the village as it then existed, with its houses scattered widely over a considerable area, and a number of empty plots suggesting earlier shrinkage. The Hearth Tax Returns of 1674 give a total of 42 families for the village. Edward Stratford demolished the old manor house and erected a new one, described as 'good' by Bridges in the early 18th century. At some time, probably before 1737, the whole village, except for the medieval church and the rectory which lay immediately W. of the hall, was removed and rebuilt along the present road on the N. edge of the park. The exact date of this removal is unknown, but it was probably undertaken by Henry Stratford sometime after the enclosure of the parish in 1728. It had certainly taken place by 1775, when a map of the county shows only the church, rectory and hall standing within a small park. In 1737 Henry Stratford sold Overstone to Sir Thomas Drury, who intended to pull down the old church. Drury died, however, before doing so, and the estate passed first to the Brownlow family and then, in 1791, to John Kipling. In 1799 the existing ruins of the old parsonage and some closes of glebe land were sold to John Kipling and in 1803 the church was finally pulled down and a new one built some distance away at the N. end of the park near the new village of Overstone. The whole area was finally emparked in the early 19th century (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 192–7).

The surviving earthworks of the village represent only a part of its original area, the rest having been destroyed by the emparking of the 18th and 19th centuries. The existing drive to Overstone House from the N. ('a' on Fig. 111) still follows the line of the road shown on the 1672 plan, while a deeply cut hollow-way ('b' on Fig. 111) to the N.E. of it, beyond the boundary of the park, can be traced as a cropmark on air photographs, running N. (FSL VAP 6603, 1514–6; 6565, 1947–9). On either side of the hollow-way the same air photographs show traces of ploughed-out hedge banks, presumably contemporary with the hollow-way. In the angle formed by the junction of these two roads there are two raised platforms ('c' on Fig. 111), which apparently coincide with two closes shown on the 1672 map. Each of these had a house within it at that time. Immediately to the S.E. is an area of broken ground, shown as a short length of lane on the map, with, to the S., a rectangular platform with a house-site at its S. end ('d' on Fig. 111). A house is again shown here on the late 17th-century map. Immediately to the W. there is a series of banks and scarps. On the 1672 map no buildings are depicted at this point, though a house is shown a little to the S. within the same close. To the S.W. is a well-marked hollow-way up to 2 m. deep ('e' on Fig. 111) which runs down the hillside and disappears beneath the waters of the large ornamental lake constructed in the early 19th century at the time of the emparking. This hollow-way represents the main W. street of the village, shown on the 1672 map, but the house-sites at 'f', 'g' and 'h', now represented by both raised and sunken platforms, and the low scarps, presumably marking property boundaries to the N. of them, no longer contained houses when the map was made. The subsidiary hollow-way ('i' on Fig. 111) is also absent from the map. The terrace-way ('j' on Fig. 111) which cuts the E. end of the hollow-way is a disused drive to the hall (DMVRG, 18th Annual Report, (1970), 5–6).

c(7) Garden Remains (SP 806656; Fig. 111), lie immediately W. of Overstone Hall on the sides and bottom of a small re-entrant valley, on sand and clay between 85 m. and 99 m. above OD. The remains consist of a series of rectangular depressions associated with a set of low scarps which are probably the terraces of the 18th-century gardens of the hall laid out after the removal of the village and abandoned before the 19th-century emparking.

(8) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1727 (NRO, Enclosure Map). In 1593 there were three fields, South, North and West or Mill Fields. Part of the extreme N. of the parish had already been enclosed by 1645. Outside Overstone Park ridge-and-furrow has survived on only one field (at SP 798681) but within the park more has remained or can be traced on air photographs, around the site of the deserted village (6). Here it is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 194; RAF VAP 543/ 943, 0084–9; F21 543/RAF/2409, 0123–7; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0238–41; CPE/UK/1925, 1366–70; 3G TUD/UK/118, 6225–8, 6182–6).