(OS 1:10000 SP 78 NE)
The parish covers nearly 550 hectares, immediately S.E.
of Market Harborough (Leicestershire), on the S.E. side
of the R. Welland which forms its N.W. boundary. The
land rises S.E. from the river at 70 m. above OD to a
maximum height of 155 m. above OD, and the area is
cut deeply by a series of N.W.-flowing streams with
high interfluves all of Lower and Middle Lias Clays. The
village, in the W. of the parish, is situated on a small
outcrop of Northampton Sand, while elsewhere the clay
is overlain by small patches of Boulder Clay.
Prehistoric and Roman
An Iron Age coin of Cunobelinus, and a glass bead,
said to be Roman, were found in the parish before 1712
(lost; J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants., (1712), 499–
500; JBAA, 11 (1847), 101, 346; J. Northants. Natur.
Hist. Soc. and FC, 19 (1917), 169; D. Allen, Coins of
the Coritani, (1963), 233).
Medieval and Later
(1) Settlement Remains (centred SP 770877;
Fig. 38), formerly part of Dingley village, lie immediately
N. of the church and the now ruinous hall on land
sloping N. between 122 m. and 130 m. above OD. The
subsoil is Boulder Clay and Upper Lias Clay.
The village of Dingley is first mentioned in 1086
when Domesday Book gives a recorded population of 31
(VCH Northants., I (1902), 322, 334–5). In 1332 the
vill paid a tax of 36s. 8¾d. (PRO, E179/155/3), the
smallest sum in the Hundred. In 1524 (PRO, E179/135/
160), 23 taxpayers are listed in the Subsidy Roll, and in
1674 34 people are recorded in the Hearth Tax Returns
(PRO, E179/254/14). In 1801 the parish of Dingley had
143 inhabitants. These figures suggest that, though always fairly small, Dingley has not suffered any major
desertion, and that the surviving earthworks may be the
result of movement rather than of shrinkage. It is thus
possible to interpret the remains as part of the original
village lying around the church and the medieval manor
house held by the Knights Hospitallers (VCH Northants.,
II (1906), 142–4). The village may have been displaced
and rebuilt to the S. when the hall was erected by
Edward Griffin in 1558–60, or perhaps, more likely,
when the gardens and park were laid out after the rebuilding of the house by Sir Edward Griffin in 1680.
The layout of the existing village should be considered
in the interpretation of the surviving earthworks. It is
likely that the medieval village was arranged around a
N.–S. road, which survives as Church Lane, running towards Sutton Bassett. It then perhaps passed immediately
W. of the hall and crossed the present park. In the park,
N.N.W. of the hall, is a broad, shallow hollow-way ('a'
on Fig. 38), which although damaged and on the line of
an 18th or 19th-century carriageway, may be the original
medieval road. N. of the church ('b' on Fig. 38), on land
sloping steeply N., are traces of partly destroyed earthworks in the form of mutilated platforms and ditched
and embanked enclosures. These appear to be the remains
of former buildings. Local village tradition speaks of
houses which once stood in this area, but none is shown
on the Tithe Map of 1839 (NRO).
(2) Moat (?) (SP 77288764; Fig. 38), lies 200 m.
S.E. of Dingley Hall and E. of the former stables, on
ground sloping gently N. on Boulder Clay at 137 m.
above OD. It may have been a medieval moat, though it
has certainly been much altered. If it is of medieval
origin it may be the site of the main manor house of the
village before the present hall was built in the mid 16th
Fig. 37 Dingley (3) Dam
It consists of a small rectangular island whose flat
surface has no features. On the S. and E. sides the
surrounding ditch is 2 m. deep and 8 m. wide and is
usually dry. On the W. side the ditch is wider, 1.5 m.
deep, and water-filled. The N. side is occupied by a large
pond with a small island in it. In the external S.E. corner
is a late 18th or early 19th-century well-head, enclosed
by a stone building with a pedimented front and plain
doorway. The moat is shown on a map of the parish of
1837 (NRO) exactly as it is now, but with the ditches
Fig. 38 Dingley (1) Settlement remains, (2) Moat
(3) Dam (SP 873762; Fig. 37), lies across the former
course of a small stream, on clay at 91 m. above OD, and
300 m. N.W. of Warren Lodge Farm. The dam is 10 m.
wide and up to 2.5 m. high, with a well-marked ledge on
the upstream side. At its S.W. end it turns S.E. and extends as a low scarp along the edge of Dingley Warren
Wood for about 100 m. before fading out. There is a
similar scarp on the other side of the valley which also
runs S.E., but for a longer distance. These scarps mark
the edge of the former pond behind the dam. Above it
to the E. is a modern channel which carries the water
round the N.E. end of the dam. Between this channel
and the adjacent ridge-and-furrow is an old track leading
to the dam. The original course of the stream is still
visible in the valley bottom as a winding depression. To
the S.W. of it is a block of short ridge-and-furrow 5 m.
wide which overlies the scarped edge of the former pond
and is therefore later than it. Traces of similar ridge-and-furrow exist N.E. of the course of the stream in the
bottom of the pond. Below it and N. of the dam are
other slight earthworks. The field was known as Warren
Hill Meadow in 1839 (NRO, Tithe Map).
The site may be that of a medieval watermill, with
the mill itself at the N.E. end of the dam, powered by
the present stream. However the pond must have had a
different function, and was perhaps a fishpond. The
overlying ridge-and-furrow may represent later cultivation of the area, or may indicate a rotation of arable
and fish farming as at Braybrooke (1) (see Sectional
Preface, p. lix).
(4) Cultivation Remains (Plate 28). The date
of enclosure of the common fields of the parish is unknown. Ridge-and-furrow of these fields can be traced
on the ground or from air photographs over most of the
parish except for a broad band in the N. along the
Dingley Brook and the R. Welland. Much of it is arranged
in end-on furlongs. A number of well-marked headlands
remain in this area. One of these, some 700 m. long,
(from SP 760886 to 768885), is of knuckled form, and
in its E. half some short sections have been ploughed
away completely. This is the result of over-ploughing of
an earlier headland to make two end-on furlongs continuous, and the gaps perhaps represent individual
strips where the ploughing has totally removed the
headland. Parallel with this and 150 m. to the S. is a
second headland of exceptionally massive form. Much
ridge-and-furrow still survives within Dingley Park. Close
to the hall and the settlement remains (1) there are
unusual low scarped divisions between some blocks of
ridges (Fig. 38) (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1925, 1182–90,
541/602, 3228–32, 4204–8, 3205–8).