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of an Iron Age Settlement and a Middle Saxon Cemetery at Great Houghton, Northampton,
Andy Chapman et al.
A corridor 400 m long by 15 m wide along the course of a proposed Anglian Water pipeline was stripped under archaeological supervision to determine the presence and character of any archaeological remains. The dense palimpsest of features located was sampled in an archaeological recording action. The majority of the features related to an extensive area of Iron Age settlement. The earliest activity probably comprised unenclosed posthole pit groups. A sub-rectangular ditched enclosure contained numerous pits, and in one an adult inhumation burial with a lead alloy neck ring or torc around its neck has been radiocarbon dated to the early 4th century BC. To the east, a roundhouse ring ditch lay outside a small oval enclosure. Settlement began at the end of the early Iron Age, at 400 BC, and continued through the middle Iron Age. It was abandoned in the early 1st century AD. A group of 23 inhumation burials, all aligned west-to-east, and without grave goods, formed the southern part of a cemetery of unknown extent. A single radiocarbon date indicates that it was a Christian cemetery dating to the second half of the 7th century. The burials produced much evidence for healed traumatic injuries, and a high incidence of anatomical variance may indicate that they were from a small, inbred community. One individual shared an uncommon genetic trait with the Iron Age pit burial. At the western end of the area a group of rectangular clay pits of medieval date were aligned on the ridge and furrow of the medieval field system.
Excavations of Iron
Age Settlements at Sywell Aerodrome (1996) and at Ecton (1992-3) Northamptonshire
Rob Atkins, Steve Parry, Mark Holmes & Ian Meadows
Two predominantly early/middle to middle Iron Age sites 2.5 km apart, both part of a linear cropmark system along a valley side running towards the River Nene, Northamptonshire, were partially excavated at Sywell Aerodrome (1996) and at Ecton (1992/3) prior to the construction of offices and a water pipeline respectively. The earliest feature uncovered was at Ecton where a single late Bronze Age/early Iron Age pit contained two pottery vessels. Apart from this feature, occupation seems contemporary with the Sywell site dating between the 5th or 4th to 1st centuries BC compared with the Ecton site dating from the 4th to 2nd centuries BC. Early Iron Age pottery was recovered from a single linear ditch at Sywell. The early/middle Iron Age was represented by three pits found on the extreme north-east of the excavation, which may signify a focus of occupation in this period outside the area of excavation. The middle Iron Age formed the vast majority of the evidence and comprised parts of two enclosures, a four-post structure, and a scatter of pits all truncated by subsequent cultivation and presumably part of a single unenclosed farmstead c.0.5 hectares in area identified from more extensive crop marks. At Ecton, truncated features were excavated for 240 m along the 15 m wide water pipeline corridor with deposits ending abruptly on the northern side and quarried away on the southern side. The features comprised a group of five small circular enclosures and surrounding pits, together with rectilinear enclosures and other associated pits, and two further small circular features nearby, to the north. In all, this Ecton site was part of an extensive settlement. A section through a separate cropmark site was examined when the pipe trench crossed the edge of a new set of enclosures 300 m to the south west of the Ecton site. Sections through two parallel ditches and the western side a rectangular enclosure recovered no dating evidence.
A Late Bronze Age Ringwork, Pits and Later Features
at Thrapston, Northamptonshire
An excavation by Thames Valley Archaeological Services on land to the south of Huntingdon Road, Thrapston, examined part of a late Bronze Age circular enclosure ditch with some evidence of an internal bank. Radiocarbon dating indicates that the ditch was dug during the first quarter of the 1st millennium BC. The feature has been interpreted as a mini-hillfort or elite residence of type particular eastern England. The largest pottery collection in the county for this period was recovered, together with an important assemblage of animal bones. Late Bronze Age and late Iron Age pits were found both inside and outside the circuit of the ditch and a number of late Iron Age working hollows were also discovered. Medieval ridge and furrow overlay the Prehistoric deposits and some modern quarrying and pit digging had disturbed parts of the site.
Excavation at the Moat House Hotel, Northampton, 1998
The area of a new swimming pool at the Moat House Hotel, Northampton, adjacent to King Street, was excavated in advance of development. Earlier deposits had been severely truncated but two pits of 10th century date attested to late Saxon activity in this north-eastern corner of the early town. In the mid-13th century there was a distinct change in use, with the digging of much larger pits, presumably as quarry pits to obtain ironstone for building. They had been infilled by the 14th century, when one was sealed a laid stone surface. By the mid-17th century a garden soil had accumulated over this area, when the site lay to the rear of properties fronting onto King Street. A steady increase in activity from the late 17th century onward relates to the progressive development of this frontage. The western half of the site was a yard until the late 19th century; it contained three wells and several pits. The eastern half of the site was occupied by the rear wing of the former No. 12 King Street.
Early Iron Smelting
in the Rockingham Forest Area: A Survey of the Evidence
Burl Bellamy, Dennis Jackson & Gill Johnston
This survey brings together all the available evidence of early iron smelting in the Rockingham Forest region of Northamptonshire from documentary sources, the county SMR and recent fieldwork. The survey looks at the history of the Rockingham Forest woodland together with the underlying iron bearing strata. Documentary evidence for iron smelting within the forest is discussed, along with the field evidence, furnace groups, and furnace types. Early/middle and late Saxon smelting is duly examined as is the importance of the Fineshade valley as a centre of iron smelting in the forest, finally, the gazetteer sets out the known evidence. Clearly, one of the most important issue sin the study of iron smelting today is the dating of smelting sites. In order to address this problem a number of slag patches and mounds were sampled and charcoal obtained for C14 dating. Work began with the sampling of an undated slag mound in the corner of Bulwick parish, a charcoal sample from this giving an early/middle Saxon date. The success of this investigation prompted similar sampling of three adjacent slag mounds in Gretton parish resulting in three late Saxon dates. Further to this an examination was undertaken of the Fineshade/Laxton valley, where a large Roman iron production site was excavated by Dennis Jackson in 1985, and a number of undated slag sites were known to exist. Charcoal samples obtained from six of these sites produced radiocarbon dates ranging from the 5th century AD to the 12th century. In the summer of 2000, a magnetometer survey was carried out over a well preserved example of a smelting site at Cendry Holme in the Fineshade valley, followed up by trial trenching to confirm the results and the planning of a furnace, which gave a C14 date of AD 890-1030. A smelting site was also investigated in Oundle Wood and given a late Saxon date. In Easton Hornstock Wood two sites, part of a previously unknown complex of sites, were dated to the early/middle Saxon period.
Excavations at Southwick,
A G Johnston, B Bellamy & P J Foster
Two closely connected sites at Southwick in Northamptonshire have produced evidence to show that the village had a thriving iron-smelting industry in the 10th century. A medieval stone hall dating from the mid-13th century may have been a manse owned by St. Marys Priory, Huntingdon. This building later served as a small non-ferrous metal workshop with hearths and a casting pit and was subsequently converted into a kitchen and brewhouse before being relegated to use as an outbuilding for the 16th century Vicarage Farm.
an Ossuary at Fotheringhay Church, Northamptonshire
Fotheringhay is a village probably best known for its castle and its tragic association with the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. The parish church of St. Mary's and All Saints at Fotheringhay, once the dynastic mausoleum of the House of York, now consists of a magnificent perpendicular nave, all that is left of the 15th century Collegiate Church of the Annunciation and All Saints. Installation of new bells in 1990 initiated the discovery ad subsequent excavation of a forgotten ossuary beneath the floor of the north porch. Material recovered indicated that the room was contemporary with the 15th century building and included a large amount of the original stained window glass. The room had been filled in at the beginning of the 19th century during restoration. A large carved ashlar block removed in the excavation, is of smaller dimensions than those of the remaining church and may be the only known remnant of the claustral buildings. Documentary evidence has been found which places the school and masters house to the north of the demolished collegiate choir.
Archaeology in Northamptonshire, 2001
The Victoria History of the Counties of England. Northampton.The Borough of Northampton by Helen Cam, edited by P. Riden and C. Insley
Northampton in the Late Middle Ages by E.T. Jones, J. Laughton and P. Clark
Daventry Past by R.L. Greenall