(OS 1:10000 a SP 97 SW, b SP 97 SE, c SP 96 NW)
The parish, covering 1230 hectares, lies W. of the R.
Nene on land rising westwards between 120 ft. and
300 ft. above OD. The higher W. and N.W. part is on
Boulder Clay but along the river, sands, clays and limestones outcrop in broad bands. Until 1972 very little of
the Roman period had been found in the parish, but
subsequently intensive fieldwork has enabled a number
of settlements (5–12) to be listed.
Prehistoric and Roman
(1–4) comprises a series of mounds on the edge of the R.
Nene. They have been interpreted as barrows but this is unproven. In the Northampton Museum is an account of the
discovery in this area of an Overhanging Rim Urn which has
since been lost. No other details.
b(1) Mound (SP 96387162), on alluvium in the flood-plain
of the R. Nene, at 120 ft. above OD. Circular, diam. 28 m.,
height 1 m. No trace of a ditch.
b(2) Mound (SP 96637143), 300 m. S.E. of (1) and in a similar position. Circular, 35 m. in diam., height 2 m. The N.W.
side has been cut away by the railway which was built in 1847.
b(3) Mound (SP 958712), on gravel, at 120 ft. above OD.
Diam. 30 m., height 0.5 m., with traces of a ditch. (Beds. Arch.
J., 7 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough 7)
b(4) Mound (SP 966715) in a similar position to (3). Diam.
30 m., height 0.5 m. (Beds. Arch. J., 7 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough
a(5) Iron Age and Roman settlement (?) (SP 946712), on
the N. side of a small valley, on limestone, 220 ft. above OD.
Ditches containing late Iron Age pottery were discovered
during building work on the site (Beds. Arch. J., 3 (1966), 5; 4
(1969), 1–2). Subsequent excavations revealed a complex of
intersecting small curving ditches, apparently parts of hut
circles. Roman features including ditches and a corn-drying
oven were also found. (Beds. Arch. J., 7 (1972), 17–20)
a(6) Iron Age settlement (?) (SP 942694), on the N. side of
the R. Nene, on gravel, at 165 ft. above OD. Iron Age pottery
of early date has been found within an area of dark soil and
pebbles (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 4).
b(7) Iron Age and Roman settlement (SP 958715), on a
low spur, overlooking the R. Nene, on limestone, at 225 ft.
above OD. Large amounts of early and late Iron Age and
Roman pottery have been found (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 4; Beds.
Arch. J., 7 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough 5). The 'traces of
ploughed out ramparts' reported here are merely the high
terminations of medieval ridge-and-furrow, now ploughed
down, around two sides of the spur (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1925,
c(8) Roman settlement (SP 943694) lies on the N. side of
the R. Nene, on gravel, at 160 ft. above OD. A scatter of
building-stone, Roman pottery and some coins have been
found; other finds include barbed-and-tanged, and leaf-shaped,
arrowheads as well as two polished stone axes (OS Record
Cards; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 21).
c(9) Roman settlement (SP 940693), in a similar position to
(7) and slightly to its S.W. A scatter of Roman pottery and
building-stone has been found. Part of the settlement has
probably been destroyed by the adjacent ironstone workings
(BNFAS, 7 (1972), 21; Beds. Arch. J., 7 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough 3).
c(10) Roman settlement (SP 945696), in a similar position
to (8) and a little to the N.E. A scatter of Roman pottery and
occupation debris has been found (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 21). The
site has subsequently been described as a building (Beds. Arch.
J., 17 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough 13).
a(11) Roman settlement (?) (SP 944715), N. of the town on
clay at 250 ft. above OD. Roman pottery, including Nene
Valley types, and part of a quern stone, all associated with an
area of dark soil, have been found (BNFAS, 7 (1972), 21).
b(12) Roman settlement (SP 95107070) was discovered
during excavation of All Saints' Church (15) in 1965. The site
lies close to the R. Nene on clay at 125 ft. above OD. Although
no Roman material was found in situ during the excavation,
large quantities of pottery, tegulae and tesserae were discovered
as well as a piece of floor tile. There are also records of considerable amounts of Roman pottery being found in the area.
A Roman settlement of some size is indicated. Iron Age pottery
has also been found nearby. (Beds. Arch. J., 7 (1972), 14, Irthlingborough 6; BNFAS, 8 (1973), 4; see also Northants. Ant. Soc.
Rep., LXV (1966), 16–18)
(13) Roman settlement (?) (unlocated). Many fragments of
Roman pottery are said to have been found around Irthlingborough (T. J. George, Arch. Survey of Northants., (1904), 16).
There are also records of Roman brick and much pottery from
'near Tanberdyke Hedge' (J. Cole, Hist. and Ants. of Higham
Ferrers (1838), 230).
For Roman Road 570, see p. 116.
Fig. 69 Irthlingborough (16)
Medieval cultivation remains
Medieval and Later
b(15) Site of All Saints' Church and manorial complex
(SP 95107070) lies N.E. of the town, near the R. Nene. The
church was one of two in Irthlingborough, but as early as 1428
it has only eight parishioners. Apparently in regular use in the
early 16th century, by 1562 it was described as 'devastated and
in utter ruin' and in the 17th century it was pulled down.
Excavations on the site in 1965 revealed the whole plan of the
building, and four separate phases of construction starting with
a 12th-century structure, were recognized. Some 400 skeletons
were also excavated.
The site is still surrounded by indeterminate earthworks
which are all that remain of a large manorial complex including
building sites and fishponds, now largely destroyed. (Northants.
Ant. Soc. Rep., LXV (1966), 3–18; RAF VAP CPE/UK 1925, 2253–4)
(16) Cultivation remains (Fig. 69). The common fields of
the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament of 1808 (see
also NRO, Map of 1801). Before that date there were six common fields but the land occupied by one West Field, is now in
Wellingborough parish. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields
exists on the ground, or can be traced on air photographs, in a
number of places. It is all arranged in end-on furlongs, mostly
of reversed-S shape. That N. of the town (SP 932716 and
940715) lay in Holbush Field, N.W. of the town (SP 938711
and 938702) in Up Windmill Field and N.E. of the town (SP
942714 and 948718) in Knightland Field. Further indistinct
traces of similar ridge-and-furrow S. of the town (SP 937694
and 942691) lay in Broadham Field. To the E. of Irthlingborough (SP 956713) are other traces formerly in Fettledine
Field while to the N. (SP 962723), a well-marked ridge, 30 m.
wide and almost 1 km. long, is a former headland between
end-on furlongs (RAF VAP CPE/UK 1925, 2249–54, 3248–56,
4249–55; 1924, 2394–7; 540/474 3026. 3034–40)