BHO

Wappenham

Pages 160-161

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 4, Archaeological Sites in South-West Northamptonshire. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1982.

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62 WAPPENHAM

(OS 1:10000 a SP 64 SW, b SP 64 NW)

The parish, covering about 950 hectares, lies across the valley of the R. Tove, here flowing at 107 m. above OD, which also forms part of the W. boundary. Tributary streams flowing generally N. or S.E. define other boundaries. Expanses of Boulder Clay cover the high areas in the N. and S. and a strip of glacial sands and gravels runs N. to S. through the centre of the parish. The valleys are floored with Upper Lias Clay, and Oolitic limestones outcrop on the valley sides.

Prehistoric and Roman

A Middle Bronze Age palstave is recorded from the parish (VCH Northants., I (1902), 143; NM). A single late Roman pot was found in 1958, some 400 m. N. of the cropmarks listed below (1) (NM; OS Record Cards).

b(1) Enclosures (SP 622468), E. of Manor Farm, on glacial sands and gravels, at 137 m. above OD. Air photographs (CUAP, VC82, 86) show indistinct cropmarks of a D-shaped enclosure about 30 m. wide with several subdivisions. A smaller oval enclosure lies to the N.W.

b(2) Roman Settlement and Kiln (SP 626453), S. of the village, on glacial gravel at 132 m. above OD. Gravelworking in 1874 revealed a Roman kiln containing 20 broken urns. Charcoal, bone, iron-slag, a silvered brooch and fragments of bronze were also found. (VCH Northants., I (1902), 221; OS Record Cards)

Medieval and Later

b(3) Settlement Remains (SP 627457; Figs. 14 and 119), formerly part of Wappenham, once lay at the N.E. end of the village, on limestone at 115 m. above OD. There are no indications in the surviving records of any marked reduction in the village at any time and the earthworks described below have now been largely destroyed. It is difficult to understand how they related to the development of the village.

Wappenham is first mentioned in Domesday Book where it is listed as a single manor with a recorded population of 38, including a priest (VCH Northants., I (1902), 344). In 1301, 27 people paid the Lay Subsidy (PRO, E179/ 155/31) and in 1377, 61 people over the age of 14 paid the Poll Tax (PRO, E179/155/27). Sixty-four householders paid the Hearth Tax in 1673 (PRO, E179/254/14).

The village today falls into two distinct units at each end of a single E.-W. street. At the W. end is the church and a small triangular green, though the position of the adjacent lane suggests that this green may have once been very much larger and roughly rectangular. At the E. end is another group of houses centred on a road junction which forms another small green.

The main area of earthworks lay on ground sloping N., on the N. side of the main street, and linked the two parts of the village. The area, covering some 4 hectares, had already been ploughed in 1947 when the first air photographs were taken (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1226–7). These show that a single large field was divided into a number of small rectangular paddocks or closes, bounded by low banks or ditches, some with ridge-and-furrow within them. At the E. end was a rectangular area, apparently raised above the surrounding land, some 60 m. by 30 m., orientated E.-W. and bounded by a wide ditch. The interior was uneven. This may have been the site of a moat and manor house. No trace of these earthworks remains, though slightly uneven ground, and patches of stone rubble associated with pottery of 12th to 17th centuries lie along the S. edge of the site close to the road. This area was already devoid of buildings in the early 19th century (OS 1st ed. 1 in. map, 1834). Elsewhere in the village, behind some of the existing farms and houses, were the remains of abandoned paddocks or closes bounded by low banks and shallow ditches (e.g. SP 623657) but most of these have been destroyed.

b(4) Hollow-Ways (SP 630455; Fig. 14), lie on steeply rising ground immediately S.E. of the E. end of the village, on the S.W. side of the road to Syresham, on limestone and Boulder Clay between 114 m. and 137 m. above OD. The hillside is scored by a number of parallel hollow-ways up to 2 m. deep. To the N., near the village, they run into an area of old quarry-pits, some of which cut through the hollow-ways. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1226–7; air photographs in NMR)

(5) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of Wappenham were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1761 and though nothing is known of the arrangement of these fields it is unlikely that the S.E. part of the parish, on the edge of Whittlewood Forest, was part of them.

Ridge-and-furrow may be seen on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over a large part of the parish and some exceptionally fine stretches are preserved in permanent pasture N.E. of the village (SP 633457 and 638463). It is arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs, often of reversed-S form, and several interesting features are still visible. To the N.E. of the village (SP 633457) the furlongs are notable as they have one or two broad ridges up to 10 m. wide separating groups of four to eight ridges only 3 m. wide. The ends of the ridges here rise over the headlands between the furlongs and almost interlock with each other. The same feature occurs S.W. of the village (SP 620454) though here the underlying headland, on the edge of a natural valley, is a massive asymmetrical bank almost 2 m. high. In places where the ridge-and-furrow has been completely destroyed by modern agriculture headlands still survive as broad ridges 10 m. wide, 0.25 m. high and up to 300 m. long (e.g. SP 621452 and 620470). Hollow-ways through the ridge-and-furrow can also be seen in a few places (e.g. SP 628451). In the S.E. of the parish, although there are considerable areas of furlongs of medieval type, most of the traceable ridge-and-furrow is very narrow, 3 m.–4 m. wide, exactly straight and fitted within the rectangular modern fields (e.g. SP 634445, 640448 and 647439). This appears to be the result of late 18th or 19th-century ploughing. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1225–8, 3226–8; CPE/UK/1994, 1091–2)