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Introduction to Volume 38: 40th Anniversary Issue
In 1974 the newly formed Northamptonshire Archaeological Society published its first full journal, labelled volume 9 as it was the successor to a sequence of eight bulletins, published between 1966 and 1973 by the Federation of Northamptonshire Archaeological Societies. The present journal, volume 38, is therefore the 30th volume in the series of full journals spanning the intervening 41 years.
The development of Archaeology in Northamptonshire to 1980
A series of articles looking at the history of archaeology in Northamptonshire up to the late 1970s, written by Robert (W R G) Moore BA AMA, the then Keeper of Archaeology at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery, were published in Northamptonshire History News, which was produced by the Central Museum, Guildhall Road, Northampton, edited by Diana E Friendship-Taylor. The history appeared as nine articles, with the first published in issue 41, for March 1979 and the final article appearing two years later in issue 49 in March 1981. These articles are reproduced in full. Beginning with the antiquarians of the 16th and 17th centuries, Moore follows the development of county surveys through the 18th and 19th centuries. The 19th century also saw the emergence of archaeology from its antiquarian roots through the work of Sir Henry Dryden, Samuel Sharp and the Rev R S Baker. Another significant event was the creation of a museum in Northampton, and the role of the curator T J George in the early 20th century in developing a more modern interpretation, particularly of the county’s prehistory, is examined. The rapid development of the county and its infrastructure in the later 19th and early 20th centuries led to both destruction and discoveries, although recording was usually minimal. Between the two World Wars other preoccupations led to a decline in interest in local history and archaeology. But interest was renewed in the 1950s, and the 1960s saw the appearance of several local societies, programmes of systematic fieldwork from, in particular, Richard Hollowell and David Hall, while Dennis Jackson began discovering and excavating sites threatened by modern development, especially gravel and ironstone quarrying. The story ends in the 1970s with the formation of the Northamptonshire Archaeological Society and the appearance of archaeological teams within the Northampton Development Corporation and the County Council. There is a concluding discussion of the then current trends and a view of future prospects in local archaeology.
Forty years of Northamptonshire Archaeological Society and its journal
The history of Northamptonshire Archaeological Society from 1965 as the Northamptonshire Federation of Archaeological Societies, through its establishment as a separate society in 1974 and continuing to the present day, is examined largely through the evolution of the journal. The journal provides both a record of the changes in archaeological practice over the past 40 years, and also illustrates how changes in printing and the advent of computers has taken us a long way from the typed and duplicated Bulletin of 1966. [pp 23-28]
A short history of Northamptonshire Archaeology
In 1973 Northamptonshire County Council appointed their first full-time archaeological officer, but it was only following the appointment of Alan Hannan as County Archaeologist in 1976 that the Northamptonshire Archaeological Unit began to grow, establishing a Sites and Monuments Record for the county and carrying out its first major excavations at Furnells manor, Raunds in the late 1970s to the early 1980s. The 1980s saw excavation at Ashton Roman town and further excavations and field survey in and around Raunds through the Area Project, run jointly with English Heritage. Following the advent of developer funding in the 1990s, the fieldwork team were rebranded as Northamptonshire Archaeology, and saw steady growth in size through the 1990s and 2000s as the range and diversity of commercial work grew: from building recording, to watching briefs on single house plots, to desk-based assessment and evaluation through geophysical survey and trial trenching, to open area excavation on all sizes of infrastructure projects for housing, roads, quarrying and warehousing. The recession of 2008 set commercial archaeology back along with the rest of society, and this period also saw a shift in the ethos of local government away from the provision of services to becoming enabling authorities. In this climate, a commercial organisation within a local authority became an anachronism and in early 2014 Northamptonshire Archaeology was transferred from the County Council to MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) to form a regional office to complement the core business in London, and archaeological fieldwork within public service came to an end in Northamptonshire.
Neolithic pits at Brackmills Point, Northampton
A trial trench evaluation and subsequent excavation in 2014, by Northamptonshire Archaeology (now MOLA Northampton) on behalf of CgMs Consulting, on land at the former Cattle Market site, Brackmills Point, Northampton, identified a pair of pits and an isolated pit. One of the pair of pits contained a number of worked flints and debitage, dating to the early Neolithic, while charred hazelnut shell has been radiocarbon dated to the end of the early Neolithic. The site was traversed by remnant furrows of medieval ridge and furrow cultivation.
A Beaker burial and Iron Age droveway on the Elton Estate, Warmington
In 2007 Archaeological Solutions conducted a programme of archaeological excavations at the site of a proposed processing plant on the Elton Estate, Warmington. The majority of datable material was prehistoric. A crouched burial of a juvenile, aged 15 years, was accompanied by fragments of a comb-decorated Beaker, placed near the feet. Fragments from another Beaker we found in a pit. An Iron Age droveway ditch and pits were also present.
A pit alignment, Iron Age settlement and Roman cultivation trenches west of South Meadow Road, Upton, Northampton
University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) carried out excavations to the west of South Meadow Road, Upton, Northampton in spring 2011. The earliest activity comprised linear field boundaries. These were succeeded by a pit alignment and an associated ditched boundary. A nearby oval enclosure, with a central roundhouse, and an attached annexe, produced most of the small pottery assemblage, which is dated to the later middle Iron Age. A system of parallel linear ditches of probable Roman date may have been part of a cultivation system. There were also remnant furrows of the pre-enclosure ridge and furrow field system.
An Iron Age and Roman settlement at Mawsley New Village, Great Cransley, Kettering
University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) carried out an archaeological excavation at Housing Areas 6C/6D, Mawsley New Village, west of Kettering, prior to residential development. The excavations recorded a long sequence of activity from the early Iron Age, through the Roman period and into the early Anglo-Saxon period. The earliest features consisted of a short length of pit alignment that probably dates to the early Iron Age. Subsequent open settlement consisted of a single roundhouse located on a promontory, affording clear views of the surrounding landscape. In the late Iron Age (1st century BC) a farmstead was established, consisting of paired enclosures. The farmstead was modified and occupied continuously until the mid-2nd century AD, with a succession from timber roundhouse construction to a stone-founded roundhouse. The material culture indicated that the farmstead was modest in status, with an emphasis towards pastoralism during the Roman period. The enclosure was infilled during the later 2nd century, and the upper fill contained a special ‘closure’ deposit that incorporated later 2nd-century jewellery and weaponry, including a silver wheel-shaped clasp from a necklace, paralleled in the Snettisham hoard, alongside iron weapons. The excavated evidence suggested a shift in settlement, with new ditch systems laid out, including a trackway that crossed the previous settlement. Sparse finds from the later Roman period suggest that settlement may have continued in close proximity until the 4th century AD. An early Anglo-Saxon prone burial was located near to the stone roundhouse. The burial appeared to be aligned to the later ditch system, suggesting the deliberate re-use of the Roman site for burial, a widely reported mortuary practice from this period.
A Roman farmstead at North Lodge, Barnwell: Excavations 1973-88
Stephen G Upex
Five seasons of work were undertaken at a Roman site at Barnwell during 1973 and 1985-8 by the Middle Nene Archaeological Group. The site appeared to focus on an aisled building which had undergone several phases of development, including a late bath suite. Surrounding the building was a series of gated yards. Of particular note were three very large pits, up to 1.5m deep, which were dug close to the building, one of which produced a remarkable collection of lead objects and a large, column-like piece of limestone. One pit, which was close to the later bath extension added to the aisled building, had a revetment of timber posts with planking, behind which hard core material had been dumped to provide a walk-way around the extended building. Occupation extended from the late 1st century, through the Hadrianic period and into the late Roman period. A series of four postholes was associated with Saxon occupation. The excavations at the site are crucial for understanding how the exploitation of the clay-lands developed during the Roman period with the animal bone in the later periods suggesting a broad-based animal economy with cattle being exploited for a variety of purposes including traction. In addition, the site provided well dated finds and pottery which help to refine the dating of other Nene Valley assemblages.
The Lands and Landscape of the Priory of Fineshade
Burl Bellamy and Gill Johnston
In 1998, fieldwork was carried out in the Fineshade valley by the authors to investigate evidence of the previously unstudied Augustinian priory of Fineshade. Although no remains of the priory survive today, it was felt at the time that some preliminary fieldwork over the site of the priory, in the surrounding fields and adjacent woodland would prove worthwhile, and this indeed proved to be the case. The cartulary of the Priory of Fineshade, which dates to the 13th-14th centuries and is now in the Lambeth Palace Library, has revealed detailed surveys of the priory precinct, woodland and open fields, together with those of other outlying properties. Fieldwork and early maps have shown that the boundary of the priory estate survives intact and remains well defined, the priory woodlands, now under Forestry Commission stewardship, also survive along with their early internal boundaries. The priory charters have revealed considerable evidence of assarting both at the time of its foundation and in the form of later gifts within other lordships. Detailed surveys of the open fields of Fineshade show that a well-developed three field system existed by the middle decades of the 14th century, this had developed from an earlier two field system. The enclosure of the priory open fields is unrecorded but took place before 1535. The measured surveys of the priory precinct give considerable detail of a walled and gated inner court containing the priory and auxiliary buildings with orchard and garden. This was adjoined to the south by the outer court within the bailey of the former Castle Hymel earthworks, which housed the grange, ox stalls and other buildings. The priory ponds, leat and the mill tail race are recorded in the early surveys and are shown to survive virtually unchanged today. This report is the result of a multidisciplinary survey of the lands and landscape of the priory carried out in the Fineshade Valley between 2002 and 2009. Resistivity surveys and excavations carried out in 2004 and 2007 within the inner and outer courts, together with excavations carried out over a number of years in response to previous planning applications, will be dealt with separately.
Hillfort to Mansion: Excavations at Fineshade Abbey
Gill Johnston and Burl Bellamy
A small promontory of land in East Northamptonshire has been shown to have dominated the surrounding landscape and its occupants for at least two and a half thousand years. Following a survey of the landscape of the Priory of Fineshade and the adjacent Castle Hymel, resistivity surveys were undertaken in 2004. As a result of these surveys three evaluation trenches were excavated to the north in the area of the priory inner court and three within the castle bailey to the south. Within the inner court the geophysical and excavation results reinforced previous findings of work carried out by Northamptonshire Archaeology in response to a planning application in 1992. These concluded that this area of the site had been extensively disturbed by the former presence of the 18th-century mansion and its gardens, together with the levelling of the site after its demolition in 1956. However, excavations in 2007 have shown that the considerable build-up of soil on the downslope side of the site may have afforded greater protection of any remains of the priory. The castle ringwork and bailey has seen much degradation over the centuries, perhaps in the period of the priory and certainly in the post-Dissolution period by the removal of part of the ringwork to create a vista for the later house and also the levelling of part of the interior for the construction of the stable block of 1884. A trench across a remaining section of the bank to investigate its construction exposed the remains of a lime kiln of Roman type. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the front of the kiln produced a date of AD 125-225. Previous excavations of the site have provided widespread evidence of Roman occupation of the area within and around the castle. The discovery of a lime kiln, set into the bank, has shown that the Roman building and the later Norman castle sited here were taking advantage of an already existing earthwork dating to the early Iron Age.
The Fishmarket and Greyfriars Bus Station, Northampton
In July 2012, Northampton Borough Council Planning Committee voted to approve the construction of a new bus station on the site of the Northampton Fishmarket. This put in motion a major development in the heart of the town centre that would mark the end of two of Northampton's structural landmarks. As part of this development both the Fishmarket, a 1930s Deco-style structure, and the Greyfriars Bus Station, purpose-built in the mid-1970s behind the new Grosvenor Shopping Centre in the brutalist style prevalent in building projects at the time, would be demolished. Northamptonshire Archaeology (now MOLA Northampton), was commissioned to carry out historic building recording of the Fishmarket and Greyfriars Bus Station. The work was carried out in two phases between 2012 and 2014 with the principal objective of creating comprehensive photographic and drawn records of the buildings prior to demolition, as well as placing them in their social and historic context.
Archaeology in Northamptonshire, 2012
Compiled by Pat Chapman
Archaeology in Northamptonshire, 2013
Compiled by Pat Chapman
(CD in back pocket)
A Roman farmstead at North Lodge, Barnwell
Part 2: Catalogue of pottery, other finds and animal bone
Four reports on fieldwork at Fineshade by Northamptonshire Archaeology:
Audouy, M, Masters, P, and Sharman, S, 1992
An Archaeological Evaluation at Fineshade Abbey, Northamptonshire
Northamptonshire Archaeology report
Mudd, A, 2005
Excavations at the Kitchen Garden, Fineshade Abbey, Northamptonshire 1998: Post-excavation Assessment and Updated Project Design.
Northamptonshire Archaeology report 05/138
Prentice, J and Maull, A, 1998
Fineshade Abbey, Northamptonshire: Archaeological Evaluation
Northamptonshire Archaeology report
Thorne, A, 2001
An Archaeological Watching Brief at Fineshade Abbey, Northamptonshire, May–June 2000
Northamptonshire Archaeology report
Original Design Scheme and Building Recording Reports for the Fishmarket and Greyfriars bus station, Northampton:
Arup Associates 1972
Scheme Design: Proposed Central Bus Station, Car Park and Offices
Arup Associates for Borough of Northampton
Bassir, A, Upson-Smith, T, Holmes, M, and Walker, C, 2012
Building Recording of the former Fishmarket and 5 & 7 Sheep Street, Northampton and archaeological evaluation of land at the Northampton Bus Interchange
Northamptonshire Archaeology report 12/181
Bassir, A, 2013
Historic Building Recording at Greyfriars Bus Station, Northampton: January 2014
Northamptonshire Archaeology report 14/26