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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(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 NE. b SP 65 SE, c SP 75 NW, d SP 75 SW)
The roughly rectangular parish, of nearly 700 hectares, lies on land sloping generally N. and is bounded on the W. and N. by tributaries of the R. Nene. The village is situated on an outcrop of Northampton Sand at about 114 m. above OD, with Oolite Limestone and Boulder Clay to the S. and Upper Lias Clay to the N. sloping steeply down to 82 m. above OD. The major monument is the Roman villa (1).
Prehistoric and Roman
Two worked flints were found in 1974 (SP 699553; Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 150). A silver coin of Tasciovanus (Mack 158) was discovered in 1863 somewhere in the parish (BM; J. Evans, Coins of the Ancient Britons (1864), 240; S. S. Frere (Ed.), Problems of the Iron Age in S. Britain (1958), 223).
d(1) Roman Villa (SP 71455396; Fig. 58), lies in the extreme E. of the parish in a field known as The Warren, on Northampton Sand at 130 m. above OD. Parts of a Roman building, including the bases of four columns of a portico with walls at right-angles on each side, were discovered in 1840; the resulting plan is difficult to interpret. Finds included a silver fibula, a small bronze figurine of Cupid, pottery including samian, tiles and 22 coins ranging from Marcus Aurelius to Gratian but mainly of the 4th century. In 1849 more pottery was dug up, 70 m. to the S. of the known building. Stone walls, together with more pottery and a 'road', are also recorded from the face of a sand-pit in the area (Archaeologia, 30 (1844), 125 (plan); OS Record Cards).
a(2) Roman Settlement and Well (SP 71275488), E. of the village, on Northampton Sand at 120 m. above OD. A dense scatter of Roman pottery and tiles has been noted in the vicinity of a well. The latter also contained pottery, including samian and grey ware, and pieces of leather. (J. Northants. Natur. Hist. Soc. and FC, 34 (1962), 45; OS Record Cards).
d(3) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 712549), close to the junction of the parishes of Gayton, Blisworth and Tiffield, on Boulder Clay at 130 m. above OD. Roman pottery including colour-coated sherds has been found (OS Record Cards).
Medieval and Later
d(4) Ponds and Hollow-Way (SP 704549), lie immediately N. of the village and W. of the manor house, in the bottom and on the steep sides of an N.-draining valley, on Upper Lias Clay at around 120 m. above OD. The area is occupied by earthworks which include some quarry pits near the head of the valley, undated drainage ditches, and considerable spreads of uneven ground caused by natural landslips. In addition there is a hollow-way on the E. side of the valley, extending from the manor house to the uppermost of two rectangular ponds, now dry, which occupy the valley bottom. Both ponds were originally kept full of water by dams which still survive up to 2 m. high at their S. ends. On the Tithe Map of 1841 (NRO) the area is called Springs Orchard. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 5032–4; FSL6565, 1795–6; air photographs in NMR)
d(5) Pond (SP 708541), lay in the bottom of a small E.draining valley S.E. of the village, on Upper Lias Clay at 122 m. above OD. A small rectangular pond, with a massive dam at its E. and on which the modern road runs, has recently been destroyed. In 1841 (NRO, Tithe Map) it was described as Fishpond. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 5032; FSL6565, 1795–6)
d(6) Pond (SP 711534), lies in the S.E. of the parish, immediately N.W. of Gayton Wood House, in the bottom of a small E.-draining valley, on Upper Lias Clay at 115 m. above OD. A small triangular pond has a large dam 60 m. long, 14 m. wide and up to 2 m. high which carries the track to the house. On the Tithe Map of 1841 (NRO) it is called Fishpond. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3032–3)
c(7) Medieval Settlement (?) (SP 720557), lies in the extreme N.E. corner of the parish, near a place known as Oldfield, on Upper Lias Clay at 76 m. above OD. In 1967 a quantity of 13th and 14th century-pottery, together with tiles and bones, was recorded (BNFAS, 3 (1969), 1). No further finds have been made but to judge from the available air photographs the settlement, if such it was, was either very small or had been ploughed over by ridge-and-furrow which once covered almost the entire area. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 5030–1)
ac(8) Deer Park (centred SP 700553), lies in the N.W. of the parish, on Upper Lias Clay and Northampton Sand at around 122 m. above OD. The park was created in 1258 by Ingram de Fednes but its later history is unknown. In the early 15th century John Trussel was given permission to empark 300 acres of land in Gayton, called La Hay, though whether this was connected with the earlier park is not certain. (Northants. P. and P., 5 (1975), 224)
The park, covering some 25 hectares, is still bounded by an almost continuous circular hedge, except at the S.E. corner where there is a broad gap. For most of its length this hedge is on a low hedge-bank of no apparent antiquity, though in places it rises to as much as 1.5 m. high and 10 m. wide. Ridge-and-furrow is traceable in the interior of the park and at one point in the N.W. appears to underlie the park boundary (SP 698555). On the Tithe Map of 1841 (NRO) two adjacent fields, one inside the park and one outside it, are called The Park. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 5032–4)
(9) Cultivation Remains. The date of the enclosure of the common fields of the parish is unknown. Possibly the early 15th-century reference to the enclosure of 300 acres of land, meadow and pasture may be connected with this (Cal. Chart., 1341–1417, 424). It had certainly taken place by 1841 (NRO, Tithe Map) and a small area of enclosed land in Gayton, shown on a map of Blisworth of 1729 (NRO) implies that at least part of the parish was divided into hedged fields by that date.
Ridge-and-furrow exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs. Apart from a few fragments of single furlongs, none can be seen in the S. part of the parish, presumably because modern cultivation of the light soil there has removed all trace. However, on the Upper Lias Clay in the lower, N. part of the parish the pattern of interlocked and end-on furlongs is almost complete. Here a number of features of interest can be seen including the overploughing of headlands to make two end-on furlongs into a single large one (e.g. SP 712552 and 712554). In the same area are examples of two narrow ridges merging into one wider ridge without a break. On the steep N.-facing slope of a low hill, on Upper Lias Clay, landslips appear to have occurred after the ridge-and-furrow was created and this has resulted in the distortion and destruction of the ridges over an area of about 4 hectares (SP 700555). (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1926, 3032–7, 5029–35; FSL6565, 1795–9)