(OS 1:10000 a SP 87 NW, b SP 87 NE)
The parish covers a long narrow strip of land of about
1200 hectares, extending S.W. from a small tributary
stream of the R. Ise, S.W. of Kettering. The higher, S.W.
end of the parish is on Boulder Clay between 122 m. and
140 m. above OD, but to the N.E. the down-cutting of a
small stream has exposed large areas of Northampton
Sand and Upper Lias Clay. The village of Great Cransley
lies in the centre of the parish on high land at 107 m.
above OD, and evidence shows that it has markedly
changed its form in recent times. In addition there is the
hamlet of Little Cransley which lies against the parish
boundary with Broughton and is now physically part of
Broughton village. Ironstone-working in the parish in the
late 19th century led to the discovery of the Bronze Age
burial (1) and the Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (4).
Prehistoric and Roman
Two light-coloured Roman jugs, and a third of late
Iron Age type, were found in 1892 between Cransley
Wood and Mawsley Wood (T.J. George, Archaeol. Survey of Northants., (1904), 13; VCH Northants., I (1902),
217; PSA, 9 (1882), 93).
a(1) Bronze Age Burial (SP 839778), found S.
of Bottom Lodge Homestead in ironstone-workings at
91 m. above OD. A Collared Urn, one of the Primary
Series (BM), is recorded from here. It was found with
Anglo-Saxon material from the same site (see (4); VCH
Northants., I (1902), 142; PSA, 9 (1882), 93–5; J. Aber
cromby, Bronze Age Pottery, (1912), Fig. 25; PPS, 27
(1961), 296, No. 116).
a(2) Enclosure (SP 83467747), E. of Allotment
Spinney, on sand at 107 m. above OD. Air photographs
(RAF VAP F21 540/RAF/1312, 0160–61) show somewhat indistinctly a sub-rectangular enclosure, orientated
E.-W., 50 m. long and 25 m. wide, with a markedly
curved E. end. The interior is occupied by a circular
feature. At least two possible linear ditches are visible
immediately to the S.W.
a(3) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 84747709),
about 1 km. N.E. of the village, on day at 94 m. above.
OD. Roman pottery, including samian, and part of a
quern were found. Lumps of white limestone on the
surface suggest a building (OS Record Cards).
Medieval and Later
Fig. 32 Cransley (7) Motte (?)
a(4) Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (SP 839778),
in the same situation as (1). A number of finds were
made from 1879 onwards, including an iron spearhead,
two circular bronze brooches, a bronze tube 5 cm. long,
perhaps a horn mount, a silver wire ring, a sword blade
70 cm. long, a skillet or bronze bowl with a handle
and traces of gilding in the interior, a work box, and
beads, three of patterned terracotta and one of blue
glass. They were found at a depth of about 1 m., close to
very decayed human bones of both sexes. There were
also two pots, one of which was a black jug 15 cm. high,
roughly made, with lugs on the bellied part (PSA, 9
(1882), 93–5; VCH Northants., I (1902), 240; Meaney,
Gazetteer, (1964), 188; Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975),
165; CBA Group 9, Newsletter, 6 (1976), 20; J.N.L.
Myres, Anglo-Saxon Pottery and the Settlement of
England, (1969), Fig. 9, No. 2272; BM).
a(5) Medieval Pottery (SP 80787637), E. of
Birch Spinney on Northampton Sand at 122 m. above
OD. A very thin scatter of medieval pottery was found
(BNFAS, 3 (1969), 20).
a(6) Medieval Pottery (SP 813754), 800 m.
S.S.W. of New Lodge at 132 m. above OD. A thin scatter
of medieval pottery was found (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 30).
a(7) Motte (?) (SP 82477670; Fig. 32), in Cransley
Wood, on Boulder Clay at 122 m. above OD. It consists
of a mound 40 m. in diam., 3.5 m. high, and with a flat
top 16 m. across. There is a well-marked surrounding
ditch, only 1 m. deep except on the W. where it has been
recut in modern times. A partially filled-in trench is
still visible across the top of the mound, but there is no
record of an excavation here. The site is perhaps a motte,
placed to overlook and protect the village to the S. However it is possible that it is post-medieval in date and
connected with landscaping. The present ditch is certainly
too small and narrow for the ditch of a motte, but the
existence of what may be part of an earlier ditch on the
N.E. is perhaps significant. There is no trace of a bailey
or of stonework. The mound is not shown on a map of
the village of 1598 (NRO) though this may not be of
a(8) Settlement Remains (centred SP 829767;
Figs. 33 and 34; Plate 13), formerly part of Great
Cransley, lie in and around the existing village on land
sloping S. between 91 m. and 114 m. above OD. The
surviving earthworks together with the map of the parish
of 1598 (NRO; Plate 13) show that the village has been
greatly altered in late and post-medieval times.
The late 16th-century map provides a picture of the
village as it was then, lying along the main E.–W. High
Street, now Church Lane, with a small loop road to the
N. The houses in the village were almost entirely confined
to the main street, the loop road and the S. end of Loddington Road. There was also a lane running W. through
the fields to the N. of the village, while to the S. another
road ran towards Broughton, some distance S.W. of the
present road which did not then exist. The next cartographic representation of the village is not until the
early 19th century (1st ed. 1 in. OS map (1834)). By
that time marked changes had occurred. The N. loop had
been abandoned, together with some former houses
along it, and all the houses along the N. side of Church
Lane between the Hall and the present crossroads had
disappeared. In addition other houses further W. had
gone. However, the road to Broughton still ran S.E. from
the Hall in the same position as in the 16th century. The
enlargement of the Hall grounds and the creation of a
small park and fish ponds in the 19th century led to the
closing of the old Broughton Road and its replacement
by the existing one, together with the removal of further
houses on the S. side of Church Lane E. of the Hall.
The surviving earthworks complement and add to the
evidence of the maps. The lane through the fields, shown
on the 16th-century map, still survives as a shallow
hollow-way bounded by ridge-and-furrow, and its junction with the W. end of Church Lane also remains. The
loop road too is virtually intact except where it crossed
the Loddington Road. This is a massive hollow-way up
to 2.5 m. deep. The old Broughton Road can also be
traced across the park S.E. of the Hall as a broad hollowway, though this may have been used as a later drive to
the Hall in the 19th century. On the N. side of Church
Lane, N. and N.E. of the Hall, nothing remains of the
houses depicted there on the 16th-century map. The
edge of the lane has been levelled and planted with trees.
However, in the field beyond are slight traces of banks
and scarps, all much damaged by later activity, which
probably represent former closes, though these do not
agree with boundaries on the map and thus may be either
older or more recent. A low mound ('a' on Fig. 33), only
1 m. high and rather irregular and disturbed by later
digging, is the site of a dovecot which is shown on the
map in approximately this position. The field was
known as Dovehouse Close in 1598. The site of a house
shown on the 1598 map survives as earthworks at the S.
end of a small close N.W. of the church.
N.W. of the present crossroads (Fig. 34 and 'b' on
Fig. 33) and on the N. side of the hollow-way of the
loop road, are at least five rectangular closes separated
by low scarps and bounded on the N. by a shallow ditch.
At the S. end of four of the closes are sunken platforms
or rectangular scarps indicating the sites of former buildings. In 1598 at least two of these houses still survived,
each with its own close. Thus the house-sites and closes
represent partial abandonment of the area before the
late 16th century. All the closes have been overploughed
with ridge-and-furrow which has pulled down and partly
spread the division scarps. No date can be assigned to
this ploughing (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1229–30;
CUAP, AWQ 66).
a(9) Windmill Mound (?) (SP 82997734), W. of
Allotment Spinney, on Northampton Sand at 110 m.
above OD. A mound is shown on the map of 1598 (NRO)
and called Mill Hill. Now only a slight rise 20 m. in diam.
and 0.25 m. high remains.
a(10) Mound (?) (SP 82927708), described as a
tumulus (Archaeologia, 35 (1853), 394, Plate 16). There
is no evidence for a tumulus and there may be a confusion
between this and (9). The site is under a modern house,
and there is now a scarp, slightly curved, 1.5 m. high, on
the N. side of the house which may be the remains of a
mound. On air photographs taken before the construction of the house this scarp appears to be part of a headland associated with the adjacent ridge-and-furrow
(RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1229–30).
Fig. 33 Cransley (8) Settlement remains
(11) Cultivation Remains. The date of the
enclosure of the common fields is unknown. On the
fine map of 1598 of part of the parish (NRO) it is not
very clear what the position was at that date, but it
appears that at least part of the parish was then enclosed.
Certainly a Great North and a Great South Field are
depicted as occupying the N.E. part of the parish, but no
indication is given as to whether there were still open
Fig. 34 Cransley (8) Settlement remains
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields and others exists on
the ground or is visible on air photographs over much of
the parish. None can be traced in the area of the Great
North Field of 1598, but in the former Great South
Field a number of furlongs are visible, along the N. side
of a small valley (SP 840772 – 849779), laid out with
the ridges at right-angles to the stream. In the S.W. of
the parish on the higher, flatter ground are areas of
ridge-and-furrow arranged mainly in end-on furlongs
with a general N.W.—S.E. trend across the contours. This
area is not shown on the 1598 map. Around the village is
more ridge-and-furrow, a large amount of which was in
old enclosures in 1598, within existing field boundaries.
Much of it appears to have been once part of the
common fields. That in the field known as Boyle Close
in 1598, N.E. of the village (SP 830770), shows evidence
of an older headland overploughed by later ridge-and-furrow. Immediately to the S., within the area of the
settlement remains (8), further ridge-and-furrow overlies
the abandoned closes there (Fig. 34; Plate 13; RAF VAP
CPE/UK/1925, 1224–33, 4358–65; F21 540/RAF/
1312, 0136–42, 0157–63; F22 540/RAF/1312, 0156–
8; F21 82/RAF&1312, 0410–4; 541/612, 3001–71;
CUAP, AWQ 66).