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Fieldwork Reports: November 2003


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The following reports on recent archaeological fieldwork undertaken in Northamptonshire were published by NCC's Historic Environment Team (Northamptonshire Heritage) on 18 November 2003.

The reports have been passed to the Northamptonshire Sites and Monuments Record and will be entered into the SMR database system.

NGR SP 675 452
Desk Based Assessment
CGMS carried out a desk-based assessment of the potential for archaeological remains at Pits Farm, Silverstone, Northamptonshire. No evidence from the site itself has been recovered, although evidence from the immediate vicinity suggests that there is some potential for archaeological evidence at the site. The pattern of prehistoric activity that has been discovered in the region suggests that the site has potential for lithic evidence from the Mesolithic period onwards. The absence of aerial photographic evidence suggests that the potential for structural evidence from the Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age is, however, low. This report notes that the presence of a Romano-British site to the north (SL4) indicates the potential for some Roman period evidence (and possibly late Iron Age) although its character has not yet been established. Further evaluation by geophysical survey and field artefact collection after the harvest should provide sufficient data to allow the local authority to determine this application.

NGR SP 7250 6150
Desk Based Assessment
John Samuels Archaeological Consultants
It is proposed to develop approximately 26ha of developed and undeveloped land at British Timken, Duston, Northampton. The assessment has revealed that no archaeological remains have been recorded within the study site. The earliest remains recorded close to the development site date from the Palaeolithic period and later. Duston was once rich in archaeological remains, but modern development and quarrying has removed the majority of any remains. There are extensive areas of prehistoric settlement recorded as well as a Romano-British small town recorded to the southeast of Duston. An Anglo-Saxon cemetery and Augustinian Abbey of St James are also recorded. The majority of the site has been affected by quarrying and 20th century construction. It is therefore considered that there is negligible potential for archaeological remains to exist and no further work is recommended for these areas. However, given the extent of the remains recorded to the south and the close conjectural line of a Roman road to the southwest, it is considered that there is a low-medium potential for archaeological remains to exist within undeveloped areas.

NGR SP 7584 6084
Northamptonshire Archaeology
An archaeological evaluation was undertaken by Northamptonshire Archaeology at Lower Mounts Northampton. The evaluation revealed that there had been significant 19th and 20th century disturbance on the site, in particular bordering the Lower Mounts, where there was up to 3m of made ground and other modern layers, and the remains of brick buildings and cellars. It was not possible to determine whether any earlier deposits survived beneath the recent levels. Remnants of the original land surface prior to the mid 19th century expansion of the town into this area was revealed beneath the car park to the rear of St Michael's Road. Here, a gradual slope to the south was revealed, which suggests that the northern limit of the medieval and Civil War defences, if they survive, may lie near the base of the slope to the south of the car park and underneath the grass bank bordering Lower Mounts. No artefacts or features preceding the 19th century were found. No remains of the short-lived Victorian church of St Michael's were located.

NGR SP SP 9599 6926
Archaeological Excavation Interim Report
Oxford Archaeology
Excavations by Oxford Archaeology on land opposite Windmill Banks, Higham Ferrers revealed Saxon, medieval and post-medieval occupation and activity. The most significant features were a Middle Saxon enclosure ditch, a late Saxon sunken-featured building and the remnants of a fifteenth century pottery kiln.

Desk Based Assessment
University of Leicester Archaeological Services
The desk-based assessment for the proposed development of land at Guildhall Road and Swan Street, Northampton indicated that the site is likely to have originally been an area of medieval occupation. It is located close to a parish boundary and undated skeletons were apparently found in the north of the area in the late 1930's. Map and site visit evidence suggests that truncation by post-medieval buildings is likely to have destroyed any archaeological remains. The amount of cellarage within the area is extensive. However, it is possible that archaeological remains could survive in pockets, such as in the far south of the site which could contain evidence of medieval and post-medieval activity. The proposed development area, therefore, has a low-level archaeological potential. The buildings to be demolished as part of the proposals include elements of some architectural merit.

Building Survey
James Looker
The Central Electric Company, (Rushden) Ltd. has vacated the former shoe factory situated at 60 Park Road, Rushden and as a result this site has become redundant. As a consequence this has developed into a prime site for a new domestic housing development. The analysis has highlighted the fact that, much of the construction material and fabric of the existing building dates c1889. Due to the severe lack of primary documentation at the time of recording much of the evidence is reliant on secondary references and maps.

Geophysical Survey
PD Catherall
These surveys were carried out as part of an archaeological evaluation of two proposed areas of part of the Banbury Flood Alleviation Scheme. Both areas contain ridge and furrow and it was initially proposed to carry out a geophysical survey and a 5% evaluation on both areas. As a result of the findings of the survey, site RA3 has now been dropped as a possible source of clay. Both RA2 and RA3 contained extensive archaeological sites which are certainly earlier in date than the medieval ridge and furrow that covers many of them. Certainly RA£ is a prime settlement site lying so close to the Cherwell and yet being free from flooding, except on its lower slopes. The morphology of the various enclosures on the hilltop does suggest the possibility of a series of settlements spanning the whole range from prehistoric to medieval before its rather more specialised use in more modern times. The WW2 anti-aircraft battery which was though to have been destroyed during the construction of the M40 motorway is important as one of the few remaining examples in Northamptonshire and its links with the Northern Aluminium Company's factory in Banbury adds to its importance. The nature of the archaeology on RA3 is such that it has been decided to drop the site as a potential win area.

RA2 also contains archaeological sites. The most important of these is the large complex to the north and east of the present farm buildings. This site should be avoided, if at all possible, although if any evaluation is carried out on the other archaeological sites in RA2 then this complex needs to be dated in order to put it into context with the two enclosures in the northern part of the site.

Post Field Work Assessment and The Updated Project Design
CGMS Consulting

Part 1: The report comprises an assessment of potential for the analysis and publication of the Bellerophon mosaic at Rowler Manor Estate, Northamptonshire in its archaeological context. The assessment draws on four episodes of survey, including desk based assessment, geophysical survey, field artefact collection and contour survey, and four excavations from initial discovery through to full excavation of the Bellerophon mosaic in 2002. In the first part of the assessment of potential we conclude that analysis of the body of evidence recovered over the past twelve years is adequate to enable the presentation of the villa at Rowler and its mosaic in its landscape, temporal and regional context. The assessment also quantifies the subsidiary objectives which reflect the contribution individual data classes will make to the overall analysis.

Part 2: The updated project design will provide the basis for an archaeological report to be published.

Geophysical survey and Fieldwalking Survey
Northamptonshire Archaeology
A geophysical survey was carried out by Northamptonshire Archaeology over 1.92ha in a single area west of the A45 at Pits Farm, Silverstone. A number of magnetic anomalies were found but lacking any cohesive or identifiable pattern were attributed to geological changes. Fieldwalking carried out to compliment the geophysical survey, located only a light scatter of post medieval artefacts.

Watching brief
Northamptonshire Archaeology
An archaeological watching brief during groundworks associated with a residential development on land at Burcote Road, Towcester revealed extensive modern disturbance across much of the site. No archaeological deposits were present, nor were any artefacts recovered.

Northamptonshire Archaeology
Plans to remove and rebuild an unstable 9m stretch of the north cemetery wall at the Holy Sepulchre Church, Northampton entailed a reduction of the surrounding burial ground level by up to 3m. Archaeological excavation within this area uncovered three burials from the Victorian period, cut through 4 to 5 feet of imported burial soil, into a pre-mid 19th century horizon. The underlying burial soil contained disarticulated human bone, suggesting that the graveyard may also have been landscaped. The lower burial soil contained pottery, glass and tile dating from the 13th century through to the post-medieval period, and an assemblage of bone tentatively ascribed to tannery waste. Although the graveyard was apparently closed in the mid-19th century, burials continued to be interred until the late 19th century.

Geophysical Survey
GSB Prospection
Gradiometer, resistance and radar surveys were conducted within and beyond the grounds of Nassington Prebendal Manor House. The gradiometer survey in the immediate vicinity of the house consisted of areas of magnetic disturbance and ferrous response all assumed to be attributable to modern or natural features. In the adjacent arable field a complex of enclosures and trends were obvious and largely reflected what was known to exist from the aerial photographs.
The results of the resistance survey were again largely though to represent natural variation, though areas of possible archaeology were identified including a pit type feature, later confirmed through excavation.
The GPR survey was complicated by unfavourable near surface stratigraphy, but a number of circular and linear cut features were identified (including the pit feature seen in the resistance data). Other discrete reflectors have been classified as having archaeological potential, though these remain tentative interpretations.

Wessex Archaeology & Videotext Communications
Videotext Communications was commissioned by Channel 4 to carry out an archaeological evaluation as part of the Time Team television series in the grounds of the Prebendal Manor House, Nassington. The manor is mentioned in Saxon Chronicles as being the subject of a visit by King Cnut in the 11th century. The existing manor house is a Grade I listed building of early 13th century date, the earliest standing building in Northamptonshire. Previous archaeological work had indicated prehistoric, Roman and Saxon activity in the vicinity.

The present archaeological evaluation comprised a geophysical survey, three hand-dug trenches within the present manor house and two hand-dug test pits and four machine-dug trial trenches located across the site. Geophysical survey was also undertaken on land to the south of the Prebendal Manor House where crop marks, unrelated to the manor complex, were known. The work was undertaken over three days in May 2003.

The results of the evaluation produced more evidence for the use of the site from its prehistoric origins and traced an Iron Age ditch west of its previously known extent. The most significant results provided additional data to the ground plan of the Late Saxon timber hall. It suggested that this structure might be of at least three phases with a post built phase being replaced by a building with wall trenches. Previous excavations had indicated that the wall trench phase of the timber hall was rebuilt at least once, before its replacement by a stone hall in the 13th century. The evaluation also produced the first archaeological evidence for the south wall trench of the timber hall.

Work beyond the area of the manor house produced evidence for undated ditches, a possible lynchet, a small medieval stone quarry, an 18th century rubbish pit and a post-medieval yard surface. These features relate to the agricultural use of the Manor House in the medieval and post-medieval periods.