Grafton Underwood

Pages 51-52

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 98 SW, b SP 97 NW)

The parish occupies some 730 hectares N.E. of Kettering and is of irregular shape. The greater part of it is level, at around 90 m. above OD, and is covered by Boulder Clay; only in the S. has the down-cutting of a small S.-flowing stream exposed the underlying Oolitic Limestone. Little archaeological material has been recorded in the parish, but the occurrence of enclosures (1–3), visible only as cropmarks, in an area of generally heavy soils, is of some interest.

Prehistoric and Roman

a(1) Enclosures (SP 91328022; Fig.51), W. of the village, on Boulder Clay at 99 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a sub-rectangular enclosure, with another probable enclosure to the N.W. and part of a third to the S.E. (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Grafton Underwood (1)).

b(2) Enclosure (SP 91257982; Fig.51), 300 m. S. of (1) and in a similar position, on limestone. Air photographs (in NMR) show a rectangular enclosure with sharp corners, attached to a linear ditch (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Grafton Underwood (2)).

a(3) Enclosure (SP 91428058; Fig.51), 350 m. N. of (1) in a similar position, on Boulder Clay. Air photographs (RAF VAP 540/474, 4053–4) show a small sub-rectangular enclosure with rounded corners, and with a linear ditch to the W.

Medieval and Later

a(4) Deer Park (centred SP 935814; Fig. 52), in the N.E. part of the parish now occupied by Grafton Park Wood. In 1343 Simon Simeon, who had brought the manor in 1341, obtained licence to enclose his woods there, and five years later to empark it (Cal. Pat. 1348–50, 57). However, he was specifically not allowed to make a deer-leap in it. In 1450 Henry Greene obtained leave to empark his woods called Grafton Park and Grafton Woods and certain other fields (Cal. Charter Rolls 1427–1516, 113). This may represent an extension of the original park. The manor was disafforested in 1639 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 204–5; PN Northants., 182; Northants. Archaeol., 9 (1974), 105; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 4 (1974), 24).

Fig. 52 Grafton Underwood (4) Deer park

The general outline of the present wood must represent the area of the later park at least, though little trace of a park pale can be seen, partly because of extensive disturbance, especially on the S. side, by hutments of a Second World War airfield. The pale is best preserved along the W. side of the wood (SP 93148110–93148163), where there is an almost continuous bank, 5 m.-7 m. wide and 0.5 m. high, but with no trace of a ditch apart from modern drains. In the N.W. corner of the wood (at SP 932817) is a small triangular field, obviously once part of the park and known as Wood Close in 1728 (Map in NRO). However there is no trace of a bank on either its E. or W. side, or along the N. or N.E. edge of Park Wood beyond (SP 93328187–93708179). Along the E. edge of the wood (SP 93708179–93898109) a bank is visible, though much damaged by later activity. Where best preserved it is some 7 m.-9 m. wide and 1 m. high, but there are no indications of a ditch. Further S. (SP 93898109– 93788080) there is a bank, 5 m. wide and only 0.25 m. high, which may be a parish boundary bank between Cranford and Grafton. Along the S. of Park Wood all trace of a boundary bank is lost as a result of the wartime hutments, but the name Grafton Park Furlong given to a block of strip fields immediately S. of the wood on a map of 1758 (NRO) indicates that the park boundary lay along the edge of the wood.

(5) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1777 (VCH Northants., III (1930), 204). In 1758 there were three large open fields, Warkton and Cranford Fields in the S., and Wood Field to the N. of the village. There was an area of common between Wood Field and Old Head Wood in the N. of the parish (Map in NRO). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground or can be traced from air photographs over much of the parish, mostly in end-on furlongs running at right-angles, E.-W., across the contours. There are exceptions to this general orientation, for example where Grafton Park Furlong interlocks with Long and Short Gozzards in Wood Field (SP 932806) and where Upper and Nether Langlands interlock with Hen Furlong in Warkton Field (SP 916796). There are traces of ridge-and-furrow in the area known in 1758 as Grafton Wood Common (SP 926816) and in fields known as Wood Close (Fig.52; SP 932818 and 925820; RAF VAP 541/602, 4113–8, 3115–9, 4094–7; 540/474, 4053–6; 541/611, 4127–9; F21 540/RAF/1312, 0126–9; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0124–8; F22 82/RAF/865, 0333–9).