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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'Arthingworth', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 3, Archaeological Sites in North-West Northamptonshire, (London, 1981) pp. 3-5. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

In this section


(OS 1: 10000 a SP 78 SW, b SP 78 SE)

The parish, covering some 700 hectares, lies across the upper reaches of the R. Ise here flowing E. between 150 m. and 105 m. above OD. Most of the land is on Upper Lias Clay though this is overlaid by Boulder Clay along the N. boundary and there are small patches of glacial sands and gravels elsewhere. To the W. of the village the river flows across extensive areas of gravel. Little of archaeological note is recorded from the parish though the settlement remains (4) suggest that a major change in the village plan has occurred.

Prehistoric and Roman

A bronze palstave (NM; Plate 22) and a Roman silver coin of Julia Domna were both found in the parish before 1904 (T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants. (1904), 10).

b(1) Enclosure and ditches (SP 762818), N.E. of the village on clay at 120 m. above OD. Air photographs (not seen by RCHM) are said to show cropmarks of a rectangular enclosure and ditches. A fragment of a quern, thought to be medieval, has been found nearby (at SP 762817; BNFAS, 5 (1971), 42, 44).

b(2) Roman settlement (SP 756816; Fig. 12), immediately E. of Arthingworth manor house, on glacial sands and gravels at 120 m. above OD. In the gardens below the house large quantities of Roman pottery, mainly of 2nd and 3rd-century Nene Valley types, have been found.

Medieval and Later

b(3) Enclosures (SP 755819), immediately N. of the village, on limestone at 125 m. above OD. Two rectangular enclosures are said to have been noted here in 1968. Pottery of the 12th and 13th centuries, part of a medieval hone and two flint scrapers were later found on the site (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 15). However, on air photographs taken in 1947 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/2109, 3286–7) the area is shown covered with ridge-and-furrow.

b(4) Settlement remains, moat and (?) garden remains (centred SP 756815; Figs. 12 and 16), lie of a S.E.-facing slope E. and N.E. of the church and S.E. of the manor house on Boulder Clay, glacial sand and Upper Lias Clay, between 122 m. and 110 m. above OD.

Apart from the Moat ('a' on plan) it is not entirely clear what the surviving earthworks represent. Although the main area ('b' on plan) N. of the moat appears to be the site of a garden, it is possible that some of the extant earthworks represent former medieval settlement. These are perhaps the result of movement rather than shrinkage as there is no indication in the surviving records of a marked drop in population of the village at any time. Domesday Book (VCH Northants., I (1902), 306, 318, 322) gives a total recorded population of 20. By the early 18th century there were 45 families in the village (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 2). In 1801, 207 people lived in the parish. The indeterminate earthworks S. of the moat ('c' on plan) may be the remains of former houses, and the uneven ground between Home Farm and the Church on the N.E. side of Main Street may mark the position of other structures. To the N.E. of the moat and E. of the manor house a hollow-way ('d' on plan) up to 2.5 m. deep extends down the hillside. It is blocked at the W. end, perhaps indicating its re-use as a quarry, but appears once to have run on further W. Its alignment is continued to the W. of the manor house by a lane which meets the end of Main Street; it may have been an original through-road of the village.

The Moat ('a' on plan) is damaged but consists of a broad ditch, up to 2 m. deep on the W. but only 1 m. deep on the N. and E., surrounding a square level island. The S. side is occupied by a modern pond. The site is probably that of the medieval manor house of Arthingworth. Immediately to the N. ('b' on plan) is a series of low scarps and banks, nowhere above 0.5 m. high, forming a rigidly rectangular layout; former N. and W. extensions have been destroyed by later activity. The purpose of the site is unknown but it may be the remains of a formal garden of the late 16th or 17th century associated with the manor house. If this interpretation is correct the remains may represent the work of the Catesby family who held Arthingworth from the late 15th century until the late 16th century, or, more probably, of their successors the Stanhopes or Langhams (Bridges, op. cit., 2–3; RAF VAP CPE/UK/2109, 3286–7).

b(5) Fishponds (SP 752812 and 753811; Fig. 16), lie S. and S.W. of the village on either side of the Kelmarsh Road, along the R. Ise on Upper Lias Clay at 105 m. above OD. There are three ponds N. of the river and parallel with it. The westernmost is roughly rectangular, cut back into the rising ground to the N.E. with an outer retaining bank 1.5 m. high between it and the river. To the S.E. is a smaller but similar pond of which the outer bank is up to 1.75 m. high. Further S.E. again is a long narrow pond, now dry and only 0.5 m. deep, with a rounded W. end and a low bank along the S. side and on the W. To the N.W. are several low banks and scarps of unknown date and purpose. This area was known as Townsend Close in 1851 (NRO, Tithe Map). Two of the ponds have outlet channels, but no inlet channels are visible and all three were presumably filled by seepage (RAF VAP CPE/UK/2109, 3286).

Fig. 16 Arthingworth (2) Roman settlement, (4) Medieval settlement remains, moat and garden remains, (5) Fishponds

(6) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the parish were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1767, though no Enclosure Map survives. Very little ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground as most of the parish is under permanent arable but the little that can be traced appears to be arranged in rectangular furlongs of reversed-S or C form arranged so that the ridges run across the contours. Though little ridge-and-furrow remains a number of former headlands between furlongs can be traced as low ridges up to 20 m. across and 0.25 m. high (e.g. SP 756817). Complete cover of vertical air photographs has not been available to the Commission (RAF VAP 106G/UK/636, 3123–7; CPE/UK/2109, 3286–9).