Heyford, Nether

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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'Heyford, Nether', in An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 4, Archaeological Sites in South-West Northamptonshire, (London, 1982) pp. 88-89. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/northants/vol4/pp88-89 [accessed 3 March 2024]

In this section


(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 NW, b SP 65 NE)

The small parish, covering just over 600 hectares, lies S. of the R. Nene which forms its N. boundary. Most of the N. half of the parish is low-lying ground sloping gently towards the river between 70 m. and 100 m. above OD, on gravel and Middle Lias Clay. In the S.W. the land rises more steeply across Upper Lias Clay to a high area known as the Heyford Hills, covered by Northampton Sand at 130 m. above OD.

Prehistoric and Roman

A partly polished stone axe was found in 1941 in a gravel pit in the parish (SP 66615841; in Daventry School Museum). Two flint scrapers have also been discovered in the same area (SP 666582; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 6).

b(1) Linear Ditches (SP 651592), in the N. of the parish, just S. of the R. Nene, on gravel at 82 m. above OD. Air photographs (NCAU) show three sinuous, roughly parallel, linear ditches, visible for 75 m.

b(2) Ring Ditches (?) (SP 653571), lie on the Heyford Hills in the S.W. of the parish, on Northampton Sand at 125 m. above OD. Air photographs in NMR show very indistinctly what appear to be two interlocked ring ditches, one about 15 m. and the other about 20 m. in diam.

b(3) Roman Building (SP 666583), lies in a meadow called Wonston, Horestone or Horsestone, to the E. of the village, close to the R. Nene, at 70 m. above OD. This land is said to have been regularly flooded in the past and certainly no medieval ridge-and-furrow ever existed on it. The building was discovered in 1699 when part of a polychrome mosaic with an elaborate geometrical design of boxes framing patterns of duplex knots, guilloche and lotus flowers was found. Other rooms were noted which had plaster floors with coloured borders. Slates, tiles, painted wall-plaster and pottery including samian were also recorded. In 1780 the mosaic was taken up and used for road mending. The site was re-examined in 1821 but few finds were made (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 527; J. Bridges, Hist of Northants., I (1791), 519; G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 191; VCH Northants., I (1902), 196; A. Rainey, Mosaics in Roman Britain (1973), 122; P. Corder (ed.), The Roman Town and Villa at Great Casterton, second interim report (1954), 35–9). Roman pottery, part of the mosaic and some wall footings were found during digging on the site before 1952 (OS Record Cards). A few sherds of pottery of 3rd and 4th-century date have been noted on the site.

For Roman Road 1f, Watling Street, see Appendix.

Medieval and Later

A 15th-century bronze incense cup decorated with an unidentified coat of arms has been found at 'Heyford' (NM).

b(4) Settlement Remains (SP 662585), formerly part of Nether Heyford village, lay on the S.E. side of the village, S. of Brook Farm, on gravel at 75 m. above OD. The site has now been built over, but on air photographs taken before destruction (RAF VAP 3G/TUD/UK/118, 6046–50) the slight remains of banks and scarps, presumably the sites of former houses, are visible. The loss of these remains means that the relationship between the green at Nether Heyford and the main part of the village which lies to the N.W. of it can never be fully understood.

(5) Cultivation Remains. The date of the enclosure of the common fields of Nether Heyford is unknown, but was certainly before 1794 (NRO). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air photographs over most of the parish, except on the low-lying floodable land close to the R. Nene. It is arranged mainly in rectangular furlongs lying end-on or at right angles to each other except on the steep land in the S.W. of the parish where it all lies across the contours in a radiating pattern. On the top of the Heyford Hills no ridge-and-furrow is visible, probably because all trace of it has been removed by modern cultivation of the light Northampton Sand there. Much of the recoverable ridge-and-furrow is characterized by well-marked reversed-S curves. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1170–4, 3161–3; 3G/TUD/ UK/118, 6033–5, 6046–54; FSL6603, 2364–5, 2374–5, 2379– 80)