Pages 313-315

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 5, Archaeology and Churches in Northampton. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1985.

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(OS 1:10000 aSP 76 NE, bSP 76 SE)

Though most of the parish of Moulton lies outside Northampton (see RCHM Northamptonshire II, 110–12), a small area of just under 20 hectares in the S. is now within the boundaries of the borough. It comprises land sloping S.E. between 125 m. and 75 m. above OD. The highest part is underlain by silts and limestones of the Estuarine Series, though here mainly covered by Boulder Clay. Below this is a broad band of Northampton Sands and Upper Lias Clay.

Prehistoric and Roman

A fragment of polished stone axe, probably a tuff, was found in 1979 (c. SP 789645; Northamptonshire Archaeol 15 (1980), 166; NDC P234). Worked flints have been found at two locations (c. SP 785646; NM; NDC P17. SP 78736465; including a scraper; OS; NDC P119). Roman pottery has been found at two locations (c. SP 793648; BNFAS 5 (1971), 22; 7 (1972), 27; NDC R28. c. SP 789647; a Samian sherd; BNFAS 7 (1972), 27; NDC R100).

Some 50 dark patches visible from the air, and covering about 2 hectares (c. SP 781652) have been suggested as possible pits (BNFAS 5 (1971), 40; NDC A15).

b(1) Iron Age Settlement (?), Roman Villa (centred on SP 78506455), on the E. side of Booth Rise, on Northampton Sands, at 104 m. above OD. A small amount of Roman pottery was found on the W. side of Booth Rise prior to 1938. In that year part of a tesselated pavement, Roman pottery, a triangular hone and four coins, including one of Honorius (AD 395–423), were discovered in the back garden of 26 Booth Rise (SP 78506455). In 1947 a coin of Constantine (AD 306–40) was found at 'Avoca' (32 Booth Rise; SP 78516457) and Roman pottery was recovered from 'Uplands' (said to be the 'neighbouring house' to Avoca). In 1954–5 Roman pottery of mid 1st to 4th-century date, possibly Iron Age and Belgic pottery and two coins, both antoniniani of Gratian (AD 367–83) were discovered in the garden of 8 Booth Rise (SP 78426446). Iron Age and Belgic pottery, Roman pottery including Samian, Nene Valley ware, greyware and a mortarium were discovered in the quarry in Booth Rise. This quarry runs at the back of nos. 2–32 Booth Rise and the material recovered may have been thrown over from the back garden of one or more of these houses. The finds from no. 8 and the quarry were brought to NM along with material from elsewhere by the same donor and there is a possibility that the provenance of some of the material was confused. Also in 1954–5 an antoninianus of Victorinus (AD 269–71) was recovered from the garden of 38 Booth Rise (SP 78526460). In 1961 further Roman pottery, said to be from the quarry, was brought to NM. Between 1950 and 1973 Roman pottery, 2nd to 4th-century in date, clay and stone roof tiles, tufa building stone, tesserae, flue tile fragments, painted plaster, iron nails, a bone gaming piece (?), a strip of bronze, oyster shells and four coins were recovered by the owner of 28 Booth Rise, chiefly from his back garden. In 1973 an area of tesselated pavement, with a chequer-board pattern of red, white and brown tesserae adjoining an area of plain white tesserae, was uncovered in the back garden of 28 Booth Rise (SP 78506456). A large column base was discovered at the E. end of the pavement. In 1977 limestone tesserae, ironstone wall foundations (?), tile fragments and a human skull (above the level of the wall foundations (?)) were found in the back garden of 24 Booth Rise (SP 78506454).

The evidence set out above, collected in a haphazard manner over a period of half a century, nevertheless indicates a substantial Roman building possibly preceded by a late Iron Age settlement. The discovery of fragments of tesselated pavement, flue tiles and painted plaster would appear to indicate a dwelling of some importance as would the relatively large area (150 m. from S.W.-N.E.) over which Roman finds have been recovered. (Northampton Independent 1 July 1938; J Northamptonshire Nat Hist Soc Fld Club 29 (1938), 60; BNFAS 8 (1973), 8; Northamptonshire Archaeol 9 (1974), 91; 13 (1978), 85; Rainey 1973, 121; NDC R27).

a(2) Prehistoric and Roman Settlement (SP 78936506), lay N.W. of Thorplands, and N.N.E. of what is now the Round Spinney roundabout, on Northampton Sands, at 103 m. above OD. The site was discovered by field-walking in advance of development when a dense scatter of worked flints with a wide variety of forms and ranging in date from mesolithic to Bronze Age, and 2nd to 4th-century Roman pottery were discovered extending over 0.25 hectares. Building materials, including stone and tile, were concentrated at two points.

Excavation in 1970 and 1974 revealed the following sequence of activity. There was a small quantity of Iron Age pottery but no definite pre-Roman structures. The earliest features were ditches containing 1st and 2nd-century pottery and these were succeeded by one or possibly two circular timber buildings provisionally dated to the late 1st and 2nd centuries and perhaps extending into the 3rd century. A pit of the mid to late 3rd century contained sherds from perhaps 1000 vessels.

In the late 3rd century a circular building, 6.5 m. in diameter with stone foundations and associated with a paved yard, was erected. It remained in use until the late 4th or early 5th century. Finds included evidence for possible iron working, brooches, a bronze ring and other bronze objects, nine bone gaming pieces and a weaving comb. Sixteen coins, ranging in date from Elagabalus (AD 218–22) to Valens (AD 364–78), were discovered. One, a rare antoninianus of the Gallic usurper Marius (AD 269) is of special interest. The site has been fully published (Hunter and Mynard 1977; see also BNFAS 5 (1971), 22–4; 6 (1971), 16; Northamptonshire Archaeol 10 (1975), 157; CBA Group 9 Newsletter 2 (1972), 4; DOE Excavations 1970 (1971); NDC P16, R69).

a(3) Enclosures (c. SP 790651), possibly associated with (2) above, lie 300 m. N.E., on Northampton Sands, at 103 m. above OD. Rectangular cropmarks, possibly of one or more enclosures, have been recorded (BNFAS 5 (1971), 40; 6 (1971), 16, Moulton (6); NDC A16).

b(4) Roman Settlement (?) (c. SP 777648), S. of the Boughton Road, on limestone, at 123 m. above OD. A small ditch containing 1st-century pottery was revealed during the construction of a new road (BNFAS 5 (1971), 22; NDC R61).