5 BRAMPTON ASH
(OS 1:10000 a SP 78 NE, b SP 88 NW)
The parish, 913 hectares in area, lies immediately N. of
Desborough, on land mostly covered by Lias Clays,
between 84 m. and 148 m. above OD. On the higher
ground in the extreme S., centre and far N. there are
extensive areas of Boulder Clay. The village is situated
near the middle of the parish on a small outcrop of
Northampton Sand. The rather isolated church is surrounded by slight earthworks, indicating shrinkage or
movement of the village (4).
Prehistoric and Roman
a(1) Ring Ditch (SP 78508808), N.W. of the
village, on a N.–facing slope on Northampton Sand at
135 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a
ring ditch 25 m. in diam.
a(2) Ring Ditch (SP 78508800), 80 m. S. of (1),
in a similar position. Air photographs (in NMR) show a
ring ditch 25 m. in diam.
a(3) Ring Ditch and Enclosure (SP 796857),
within the former Brampton Wood, on Boulder Clay at
145 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show a
ring ditch 45 m. in diam., lying within a large, roughly
rectangular but incomplete ditched enclosure covering
at least 8 hectares.
Medieval and Later
a(4) Settlement Remains (SP 788874), formerly
part of Brampton Ash village, lie on either side of the
now isolated church, on sand at 130 m. above OD. Slight
traces of ploughed-out rectangular embanked closes and
disturbed areas suggest former buildings covering about
3 hectares. The site was already devoid of habitation in
1839 (NRO, Tithe Map). These somewhat indeterminate
remains must reflect the expansion and contraction of
the village throughout its recorded life, as well as, perhaps, some movement. Domesday Book (VCH Northants.,
I (1902), 335, 350) gives a recorded population of 14
for Brampton. In 1332–4 the vill paid 50 s. ¾ d. tax and
in 1348–9 60 s. (PRO, E179/155/3), in 1377 161
people over the age of 14 were taxed (PRO, El79/155/
28) and in 1674 129 people are listed as paying Hearth
Tax (PRO, El 79/254/14), an unusually large number.
By 1801 the total population was only 79.
a(5) Moat and Cemetery (?) (SP 78318537;
Fig. 21), lie on the S. edge of the parish, on the N. side
of the A6, immediately E. of The Hermitage, on the
summit of a narrow E.—W. ridge on Boulder Clay at
152 m. above OD. The moat is probably the site of a
monastic grange of Pipewell Abbey (Wilbarston (9))
which is known to have been rebuilt in 1298 (VCH
Northants., II (1906), 118). The area of modern fields
immediately to the E. and S. of Hermitage Wood was
apparently not part of the common fields of the parish
and may be the original land of the medieval farm. The
moated site is now almost destroyed, and only the W.
part remains. It seems to have consisted of two conjoined rectangular enclosures, bounded and separated
by a ditch 25 m.—40 m. across and 1.5 m. deep. An old
house within it was pulled down in 1863, and a former
chapel at its E. end is said to have been demolished at
the end of the 17th century. Further E. again, now the
site of the modern farm, there was a cemetery (J.
Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 284; Whellan,
Dir., 784; 1st ed. 1 in. OS map (1834), sheet 44).
Fig. 21 Brampton Ash (5) Moat and
associated land unit. (9) Cultivation remains
a(6) Dam (SP 79718714), S.E. of the village, in the
valley of a small N.W.-flowing brook, on clay at 90 m.
above OD. The remains have been completely destroyed,
but air photographs taken in 1957 (RAF VAP CPE/UK/
2109, 4278–9) show a broad bank, some 100 m. long
and 15 m. wide, spanning the valley. Traces of the
former pond covering about 2 hectares and respected
by the adjacent ridge-and-furrow to the S. are also
a(7) Fishponds (SP 792875), N. of Grange Farm
and E. of Manor Farm, on clay, in the valley of a small
S.E.-flowing brook, at 110 m. above OD. The remains
have been cut by the modern road (A 427), but once
consisted of a series of at least seven ponds. To the S.E.
of the road are three embanked ponds. The largest one,
to the S.E., is trapezoidal in shape, with a dam 2 m. high
at the S.E. end. The central one is rectangular, but the
N.W. one is little more than an oblong depression, 10 m.
by 5 m. There is an overflow channel along the N. side
of all three. N.W. of the road and largely destroyed by it
are the remains of another shallow pond, and there are
three other rectangular ponds beyond (Northants. P. and
P., 4 (1971), 306; RAF VAP CPE/UK/2109, 4278–9).
a(8) Mound (SP 79058600), E. of Hermitage Wood,
on Boulder Clay at 135 m. above OD. It was 50 m. long
and 8 m. wide, markedly rectangular and flat-topped,
lying at right-angles to the contours. It has now been
destroyed and is visible only as a cropmark (Northants.
Archaeol., 9 (1974), 114; RAF VAP CPE/UK/2109,
(9) Cultivation Remains. The date of enclosure
of the common fields of the parish is unknown but was
certainly sometime before 1839 (NRO, Tithe Map).
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or
can be traced from air photographs over much of the
parish, and especially S. of the village where the pattern
is almost complete. Though the overall arrangement of
furlongs appears to be very haphazard, with large rectangular blocks of interlocked furlongs, in fact they are
almost all laid out, in what is an area of extremely broken
ground, so that the ridges run across the contours. In the
extreme S. of the parish, S. of Hermitage Wood, is an
area of old enclosures, probably to be associated with
the adjacent moated farmstead (5). On this land there
are slight traces of ridge-and-furrow (Fig. 21; RAF VAP
CPE/UK/1925, 1182–6; CPE/UK/2109, 3278–81,
4139–40, 4277–81; 541/602, 3228–30, 4204–5;