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.
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(OS 1: 10000 a SP 67 SE, b SP 66 NE, c SP 66 NW)
The modern parish covers some 1170 hectares and its very irregular shape results partly from the inclusion in it of the land of the hamlet of Coton (9) and partly from the loss of some land to the E., to Hollowell parish. It lies on land sloping generally S.E. across the headwaters of a number of small streams which flow E. and S.E. towards the R. Nene. One such stream forms the S. boundary of the parish. The low-lying areas are on Upper Lias Clay, but Boulder Clay and other glacial deposits cap the higher ground to the W. and N. which rises to a maximum height of 175 m. above OD. Northampton Sand is exposed along the valley sides and the villages of Ravensthorpe and Coton, in common with most of the villages in the vicinity, are both situated on outcrops of this rock. The land of Coton, the boundaries of which can be traced from a number of maps (Fig. 14), seems earlier to have been associated with the parish of Guilsborough (PN Northants., 67). The settlement remains of the hamlet of Coton (9) have been largely destroyed by recent ploughing.
Prehistoric and Roman
a(1) Iron Age and Roman settlement (?) (SP 673704), E. of the village on Northampton Sand at 126 m. above OD. A scatter of Iron Age and Roman sherds has been discovered (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
b(2) Roman settlement (?) (SP 668698), S. of the village on Northampton Sand, at 127 m. above OD. A small quantity of Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
b(3) Roman settlement (?) (SP 665695), 400 m. S.W. of (2), in a similar position. Roman sherds have been noted (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
b(4) Roman settlement (?) (SP 663699), 400 m. N.W. of (3), on Boulder Clay at 146 m. above OD. Roman pottery is recorded (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
b(5) Roman settlement (?) (SP 659699), 400 m. W. of (4), on Northampton Sand, at 145 m. above OD. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
a(6) Roman settlement (?) (SP 652709), in the W. of the parish, on Boulder Clay, at 170 m. above OD. Roman sherds have been noted (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
b(7) Roman settlement (?) (SP 657713), 700 m. N.E. of (6), on Boulder Clay, at 135 m. above OD. Roman pottery is recorded (Northants. Archaeol., 12 (1977), 215).
a(8) Roman settlement (?) (SP 666722), in the N.W. of the parish, on clay, at about 130 m. above OD. Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 162).
Medieval and Later
a(9) Settlement remains (SP 673717; Figs. 14 and 129), formerly part of the hamlet of Coton, lie W. and N. of the existing houses, on land sloping steeply W. on Northampton Sand and Upper Lias Clay at about 125 m. above OD. Though the name suggests a small, late settlement and the boundaries of its land suggest that it was once part of Guilsborough, Coton is listed as an independent manor in Domesday Book, with a recorded population of nine (VCH Northants., 1 (1902), 338–9). Nothing is known of its size thereafter until the late 17th century when eight householders paid the Hearth Tax in 1673 (PRO, E179/254/14). In the early 18th century Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 537) noted that there were 17 houses in Coton. By 1839 (NRO, Map of Coton) at least 15 houses existed, and though some of these have been destroyed new ones have been erected in other places and the hamlet now consists of some 16 dwellings.
Until recent development along the Guilsborough road Coton lay entirely along the single street curving N.W. and then N.E. which once ran on to Guilsborough. The E. side of this street is still mainly built up, though at the extreme N. end two low rectangular platforms edged by scarps N.E. of Park Farm may be the sites of former buildings. On the W. side of the street there are no buildings N. of Coton Manor except for a single cottage at the N. end of the hamlet. However in 1839 there was a line of at least six cottages in the centre of the area (SP 67357180; 'a' on plan) and a farm to the N. (SP 67327198; 'b' on plan), but all have been destroyed. On air photographs taken in 1947 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1370–1, 1467–8) the land between the main street and the valley bottom to the W. is divided into a series of long closes, edged by banks or ditches, most of which were sub-divided by further ditches. At their upper, eastern ends were traces of former buildings. These earthworks have been largely destroyed by recent ploughing. Field-walking when the area was under the plough has revealed large quantities of post-medieval pottery near the road, though at the N. end (SP 67357190) only medieval pottery of 12th-century date was recovered (inf. A. E. Brown). The land has now been put down to grass but a number of very degraded scarps making former house-sites can still be recognised along the edge of the street.
(10) Cultivation remains. The common fields of Ravensthorpe were enclosed by Act of Parliament in 1795 (NRO, Enclosure Map). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields survives on the ground and can be traced on air photographs in various parts of the parish, particularly to the S. and N. of the village and in the S.W. It is almost all arranged in interlocking furlongs.
The date at which the common fields of Coton (9) were enclosed is unknown and no documentation survives from earlier than 1839 (Map in NRO) by which time enclosure had taken place. Ridge-and-furrow, in end-on and interlocked furlongs, survives in the centre of the parish and to the W. of the partly deserted hamlet. Elsewhere most of it has been destroyed (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1367–71, 1466–71).