BHO

Warkworth

Pages 161-162

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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63 WARKWORTH

(OS 1:10000 a SP 43 NE, b SP 44 SE,c SP 53 NW, d SP 54 SW)

The parish formerly extended W. into Oxfordshire and N. into the present Middleton Cheney parish and thus included the hamlets of Huscote, Nethercote and Grimsbury, now in Oxfordshire, as well as Overthorpe, now in Middleton Cheney. It covers only some 530 hectares bounded on the S.W. by the R. Cherwell at 85 m. above OD and on the S.E. by a S.W.-flowing tributary. It is entirely on Lower and Middle Lias Clay, apart from small patches of Marlstone Rock in the N. and N.E. over 120 m. above OD.

Roman

'Numerous coins' of the 'early Emperors' are recorded from the parish (A. Beesley, Hist. of Banbury (1841), 32) but these may have come from the part of Warkworth now in Oxfordshire.

For possible Roman Road 161a. The Port Way, see Appendix.

Medieval and Later

b(1) Settlement Remains (SP 488404), formerly part of Warkworth village, lie along the single street, on Middle Lias Clay between 107 m. and 122 m. above OD. The village now consists of only five houses and farms on the E. side of the street. It is impossible to discover the size of Warkworth in medieval times because of the dependent hamlets which lay within the parish and which are included with Warkworth in all the national taxation records. The only evidence of its size is given by Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 216) in the early 18th century, when there were only five houses there, the same number as today. The relationship of the village to its now isolated church on a hilltop 300 m. to the N.W. is also unclear.

The only surviving earthworks lie behind Manor Farm (SP 48884040) where there are three small ditched enclosures covering some 0.5 hectare. These formerly extended N., behind and to the N. of Warkworth Farm (SP 48854055; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3205–6; air photographs in NMR), but have now been completely destroyed. To the W. of the street all the land is now arable, with the exception of a small quarry, and no earthworks survive, nor is there any indication on the air photographs taken in 1947 before ploughing that there were ever any earthworks here. It may be that Warkworth never consisted of more than a single main street with buildings on one side of it.

b(2) Manor House Site (SP 487406), lies on a S.W.-facing slope N.W. of the village and immediately S.E. of the now isolated church, on Middle Lias Clay at 74 m. above OD. The medieval manor house of Warkworth presumably stood on this site, but it was pulled down and rebuilt about 1595. The later house survived until 1806 when it was demolished. Two surviving illustrations and a description by Baker (Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 741) indicate that this house was a large building arranged around a central courtyard with square projecting bays on the corners. The main front had a central entrance flanked by half-round turrets the upper parts of which were glazed. The whole building was surmounted by a balustrade (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1976), 318–22).

Nothing now remains of the house apart from some uneven ground, and the whole area is now arable. Until 1970 a terraced area was preserved in pasture (OS Record Cards) and this is visible on air photographs taken in 1947 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3205–6). These indicate that the terrace was a large curved feature, facing S. and cut back into the hillside, at least 150 m. long and 40 m. wide at its widest part.

(3) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of Warkworth were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of 1764 (G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 738), but nothing is known, of the arrangement of these fields except that Warkworth had its own field system separate from those of Overthorpe (Middleton Cheney (4)) and Nethercote, Huscote and Grimsbury.

The ridge-and-furrow which survives on the ground or can be traced on air photographs within the present parish is probably associated with the Warkworth common fields. None survives on the higher areas of the parish covered by Marlstone Rock, but on the lower clay land large areas of end-on and interlocked furlongs are still visible. Some fine access-ways between end-on furlongs exist (e.g. SP 490404 and 484397). To the S.W. of the village (SP 482402) ridge-and-furrow running down into a shallow valley appears once to have extended further down the slope, but the furlongs have been shortened, leaving short lengths of worn-down ridges beyond the later headland. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3205–9, 3203–8; F21 58/RAF/1567, 0050–1, 0176–7)