Pages 143-146

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 3, Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1981.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.


In this section


(OS 1: 10000 a SP 67 NE, b SP 68 SE, c SP 77 NW)

The parish, occupying 1385 hectares, lies across a high watershed from which streams flow to the Rivers Avon, Ise and Nene. Small sections of the parish boundary follow parts of several of these streams and of the Avon itself. Much of the area, including the high plateau to the E. and S. of the village, with a maximum height of 198 m. above OD, is covered by Boulder Clay, but the streams have cut down into the underlying Northampton Sand and Upper Lias Clay in many places. The main monument of the parish is the settlement remains of Naseby itself and of the hamlet of Nutcote on its S.W. edge (3).

Prehistoric and Roman

A bronze implement was found in the W. of the parish at Naseby Woolleys (SP 665791) in the 19th century. It has been variously described as a 'celt of bronze' and a 'socketed axe', but from the original description was probably a tanged bronze chisel (Trans. Leics. Arch. Soc., 5 (1882), 285; PSA, 8 (1879–81), 383; VCH Northants., I (1902), 143, 155; T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants. (1904), 17; OS Record Cards). A small, round Roman vase with a narrow neck, containing 38 silver denarii dated from Vespasian to Marcus Aurelius (69–180) was found in the parish in 1874 (Arch. J., 32 (1875), 112; OS Record Cards).

a(1) Flint-working site and Roman settlement (centred SP 690791), N. of the village, on clay at 182 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show cropmarks covering about 1.5 hectares. They are rather indistinct but include one small square enclosure 30 m. across with rounded corners, a number of penannular ditches and other ditches and possible enclosures. Further S.E. (at SP 692790) the same photographs show a larger rectangular enclosure covering about 0.75 hectares, orientated N.–S., with other smaller enclosures to the S. and S.W. Many worked flints and a scatter of Roman grey ware have been found in the area (Northants. Archaeol., 11 (1976), 193).

a(2) Flint-working site and Roman settlement (SP 685767), in the S. of the parish, on Northampton Sand at 165 m. above OD. Many worked flints and sherds of Roman grey ware have been found (Northants. Archaeol., 11 (1976), 193).

Medieval and Later

An Anglo-Saxon trefoil-headed brooch was found in the parish before 1913 (PSA, 25 (1913), 187; BM). A gold medal was found on the battlefield of Naseby during the 19th century. It is engraved with the head of General Fairfax and the inscription 'post-hac-melliora mervisti, 1645' (PSA, 5 (1873), 443).

a (3) Settlement remains (centred SP 688780; Figs. 111 and 112; Plate 11), formerly part of Naseby, lie in and around the village, on Upper Lias Clay, Northampton Sand and Boulder Clay between 170 m. and 190 m. above OD. The extensive earthworks show clearly that the relatively simple layout of the present village is the result of complex changes which are by no means understood. The close correlation between the earthworks and the details of a map of 1630 (Ipswich Record Office, copy in NRO; Fig. 112) is of considerable interest. The village is first recorded in 1086 but must be of earlier origin as Naseby is apparently a partly Scandinavianized place-name, which in its Old English form was Hnaefes-Burgh, i.e. 'the fortified place of one Hnaef' (PN Northants., 73). No likely location for this burgh can be suggested. Domesday Book lists Naseby with a recorded population of 22 (VCH Northants., I (1902), 337) but thereafter little is known of its size until the early 17th century when the map of 1630 depicts around sixty structures which are probably houses. In the early 18th century Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 574) noted that there were 90 families there.

The present layout of the village consists of two almost parallel N.–S. roads linked by four cross-lanes, with roads to the adjacent villages radiating from both ends, and with the church and manor house in the N.W. corner. However this plan is deceptively simple. First, it appears that Naseby is not one settlement but two. The N. part around and S. and E. of the church is Naseby itself, but the S. part is Nutcote. The name Nutcote is not apparently recorded until 1630 (Map), but the hamlet seems to have been centred on a roughly triangular green, now built over, in the S.W. corner of the village. In 1630 this green still existed and was called Sow Green. The boundary between the two settlements is probably the line of the S.W.-flowing stream which crosses the village towards its S. end, and the changes in the lengths of the close boundaries on the E. side of the village on the 1630 map support this.

The 1630 map and the surviving earthworks reveal a number of lanes which formerly existed in the village. In 1630, as well as the three present lanes which still meet on the site of Sow Green, a fourth entered it on its N.E. side. The map shows this lane running across the present High Street and passing between closes into the fields, where it forks. Most of this lane, which is also on the assumed boundary between Naseby and Nutcote, still exists on the ground as a hollow-way ('a'–'b' on plan) though it has been partly destroyed by later housing. The lane had already been abandoned by 1822 for it is not shown on the Enclosure Map of that date (NRO). In addition, the present Carvells Lane on the W. of the village was a way into the fields in 1630, and two other footpaths ran between the closes on the E.

Fig. 111 Naseby (3) Settlement remains

The rest of the surviving earthworks can be divided into six groups. To the S. of Sow Green, and thus within Nutcote, a broad curving hollow-way extends S.W. ('c' on plan), fading out before it reaches the S. edge of the adjacent field. On its W. side is a series of rectangular raised platforms 0.5 m. high beyond which are some large ditched closes with ridge-and-furrow within them. To the E. of the hollow-way are further, more indeterminate platforms and closes, and to the N. immediately S. of Sow Green and projecting from the gardens of the modern houses, two more small closes. On the 1630 map the N. part of the hollow-way is depicted as a narrow curved field and one of the raised platforms to the W. ('d' on plan) is shown as the site of a house and garden belonging to one Roger Blason. The platforms to the S. were already devoid of building in 1630 and lay in a large field belonging to Edward Goosey; the boundaries of this field are recoverable on the ground. A building, perhaps a barn, stood to the E. of the hollow-way, in this field. Its exact site cannot be identified, but other ditches and scarps seem to mark the boundary between Goosey's Field and another field belonging to Thomas Adderson, as well as the S. side of one belonging to Richard Webb. The closes on the S. side of the green were also abandoned by 1630 and lay in a field belonging to John Worth. The Enclosure Map indicates that by 1822 most of the earlier boundaries here, as well as Blason's house, had gone.

Fig. 112 Naseby (3) Plan of village in 1630 (from a map in NRO)

On the E. side of Sow Green, between it and the S. end of the present High Street, are further earthworks. Those immediately W. of High Street ('e' on plan) all lay within a close belonging to John Ringrose in 1630, though the site of his house does not survive. The earthworks suggest that there may have been at least one other house here at some time for there is a large rectangular depression on the E. of High Street and low banks behind it suggest that earlier narrow closes existed here.

A third area of earthworks lies N. of Sow Green, round the modern Reservoir Farm. Most of them, as well as the farm itself, lay in one large field belonging to Mr. Shugborowe in 1630. They consist of two long closes ('f' on plan) edged by low scarps and shallow ditches, one of which has ridge-and-furrow on it, and some other scarped closes immediately W. and N.W. of the farm. To the S.E. of the long closes is a narrow strip of land extending from the modern road in the S. to the present farm on the N. This is shown as a lane on the 1630 map and was presumably the main access-way to the farm at that time. To the S.E. again ('g' on plan), and separated from the farm lane by a ditch, is a large sub-rectangular area containing three linked rectangular ponds, all but one now dry, cut 2 m. deep into the hillside. This field belonged to William Aldwinkle in 1630 but the ponds are not shown on the map. A little to the N. of Reservoir Farm ('h' on plan) are two more raised platforms with a broad depression on the N.W. side, the site of an L-shaped house and its garden belonging to Thomas Wilson in 1630. This house still stood in 1822.

Immediately to the N., and N. of Carvells Lane, is another group of earthworks ('i' on plan) which appear to have been ploughed over at some time but seem to be the W. ends of at least two and perhaps three closes belonging to houses along the W. side of Church Street. However in 1630 the existing hedge-line was already in being and the earthworks lay in a large field belonging to Mr. Shugborowe. The S. part of the area is rather more disturbed than the rest and includes a low oval mound 1 m. high. A house, in the hands of Thomas York, stood here in 1630 but by 1822 it had disappeared.

Further N. again is a set of embanked ponds. These did not exist in 1630 and are presumably of 18th-century date for they are shown on the Enclosure Map of 1822. To the N. again ('j' on plan) a shallow ditch marks the boundary between the closes belonging to John Crispe and John Howcombe in 1630. The existing hedges follow the other boundaries of their closes.

On the E. side of the village, E. of High Street, three of the present gardens also contain shallow ditches or scarps. All can be identified as the boundaries of closes in existence in 1630, some of which survived until 1822. In the extreme N.E. corner is a large paddock, bounded by an almost continuous bank 0.25 m. high and with ridge-and-furrow within it. On the 1630 map this is shown as an enclosed field with 'Mr. Wryte Ye Lords' written within it (RAF VAP 106G/UK/636, 4180–2; CPE/UK/1994, 2460–59, 4463–4; CUAP, AWV16–18, AHT51; air photographs in NMR).

a(4) Windmill mound (SP 681784), N.W. of the village, on Boulder Clay at 180 m. above OD. A mound 15 m. in diam. and 1.5 m. high, lies on top of ridge-and-furrow (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 4463–4).

(5) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1820 (NRO, Enclosure Map). Immediately before enclosure there were three open fields, Spinney Field in the N.W. Old Mill Field in the N.E. and Chapel Field in the S. The boundaries of these are broadly similar to those of three earlier fields shown on a map of 1630 (Ipswich Record Office; copy in NRO; Fig. 112) when the N.W. one was called Turnmoore Field and the N.E. one Shepshoks Field; the S. part of the map is missing. There is no suggestion, from these maps, that the hamlet of Nutcote, contiguous with the S.W. side of Naseby village, ever had a separate field system.

Ridge-and-furrow of the common fields survives, or can be traced from air photographs, over perhaps little more than half the parish, distributed fairly evenly between the three fields. Most of the visible furlongs in the N. half of the area are arranged end-on, running N.S. across the ridges, but S. of the village many of the furlongs are at right-angles to each other. Some of the ridges (e.g. SP 681784) are exceptionally high (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 2458–61, 4460–65; 106G/UK/636, 4176–84, 3177–86; CPE/UK/2109, 3299–3302; 540/474, 3151–3).