(OS 1:10000 a SP 86 NW, b SP 86 SW)
The roughly rectangular parish, covering about 915
hectares, lies E. of Northampton and N. of the R. Nene
which forms its S. boundary. From the river, at 48 m.
above OD, the land rises gently across extensive areas of
river gravel and then more steeply across Upper Lias
Clay to a flat-topped ridge of Northampton Sand,
capped by glacial deposits at around 100 m.–108 m.
above OD. On either side of this N.–S. ridge the ground
falls steeply into the valleys of two S.-flowing streams
which form the E. and W. boundaries of the parish. The
parish is remarkable for the large number of prehistoric
and Roman sites which have been discovered as a result
of fieldwork, air photograph and excavation. The most
important area is in the N. of the parish (5–12), though
other complex areas of settlement are also listed from
Prehistoric and Roman
Two probable Palaeolithic flakes have been found
during gravel-working (SP 837617; Northants. Archaeol.,
8 (1973), 3–4; NM). Two Palaeolithic axes have also been
found (SP 828616; NM Records). A polished flint axe
has been found at SP 831644 (NM), and a small loopedand-socketed bronze spearhead in 1968 at SP 831616
(NM). A coin of Cunobelinus (BM) and another of
Andoco (lost) are both recorded from the parish
(Archaeologia, 90 (1944), 30, Pl. 2; S.S.Frere (Ed.),
Problems of the Iron Age in Southern Britain, (1959),
b(1) Neolithic and Beaker Settlement (SP
83896165), in the S. of the parish on alluvium at 46 m.
above OD. Excavations in advance of gravel-digging re
vealed a hearth and a shallow pit containing charcoal and
pebbles, together with a number of shallow hollows.
Several hundred sherds of pottery of Ebbsfleet and
Mortlake types were recovered, as well as Beaker wares.
In addition 660 waste flakes and a number of flint tools
including scrapers and knives and a fragment of a
polished flint axe were discovered. Pollen analysis indicated an open grassland environment. Field-walking in
the adjacent area led to the discovery of a number of
burnt patches as well as more Neolithic and Beaker
pottery. An antler pick was also recorded (Northants.
Archaeol., 10 (1975), 3–30, final report with all
b(2) Iron Age Trackway (?) (SP 841618), on
gravel at 46 m. above OD. During gravel-working a
length of cobbles, possibly a trackway, was found,
together with several cattle bones and fragments of
baked clay (Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 4).
b(3) Iron Age Settlement (?) (SP 828616), in
the S. of the parish, on gravel at 48 m. above OD.
Gravel-working in 1967 led to the discovery of a ditch
containing Iron Age pottery (NM Records).
b(4) Iron Age Settlement (?) (SP 837617), on
gravel at 46 m. above OD. During gravel-working in
1971–2 several ditches containing Late Iron Age pottery
were discovered (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Ecton (9);
Northants, Archaeol., 8 (1973), 4). Immediately to the
N.E. (at SP 836618) air photographs (in NMR) show a
number of indistinct ditched features.
(5–12) North Ecton Complex (SP 821653–
828640; Fig.49) occupies some 35 hectares of land N. of
Ecton village, on sand and glacial gravel between 90 m.
and 107 m. above OD. The site extends to the N. into
Sywell parish. Air photographs (CUAP, ABV 51–2, BBX
95–9, in NMR and RAF VAP F21 543/RAF/943, 0089–
90) show a remarkable complexity of cropmarks. A
number of important discoveries have been made in the
a(5) Roman Settlement and Kilns (centred
SP 822652). Air photographs show a number of overlapping enclosures, one double-ditched, associated with
at least 13 ring ditches, most of which are probably
hut-sites. Field-walking has produced immense quantities
of Roman pottery together with patches of burnt clay.
The sites of at least 50 kilns have been identified, and a
small excavation in 1962 recovered details of four of
them. These showed that a wide range of pottery was
being made here during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. A
number of Roman coins have been discovered, as well as
part of a rotary quern, a brooch and a bronze bracelet.
Worked flints, including arrowheads, scrapers and cores,
have been picked up over the whole site but are concentrated at SP 822652. Part of a polished flint axe has also
been found (Ant. J., 49 (1969), 75–97; BNFAS, 2
(1967), 9; 3 (1969), 9; 4 (1970), 8, 31; 6 (1971), 9,
Ecton (1); Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 6; 9 (1974),
Fig. 49 Ecton (5–12) North Ecton Complex and Sywell (3) Cropmarks
a(6) Ring Ditch (SP 82276517), 30 m. in diam.,
visible on air photographs, lying within an irregular enclosure. Traces of a small inner ring are visible. It was
excavated in 1970 after field-walking had revealed traces
of cremation burials, but it seemed that modern
ploughing had destroyed all trace of burials and only a
few sherds of Bronze Age or early Iron Age pottery
were recovered. Numerous Roman ditches, Roman
pottery, a ring-headed pin and a flint fabricator were
discovered (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 2; 6 (1971), 9; Ecton (1);
Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973), 31–8; 9 (1974), 43).
a(7) Ring Ditch (SP 82366520), 100 m. E. of (6),
30 m. in diam. Traces of cremations have been found
S.W. of it (see (6)).
b(8) Enclosure and Ring Ditches (centred
SP 824648). Air photographs show three incomplete
rectangular enclosures associated with a number of pits
with a linear ditch extending N. to join (5). To the S.
and S.W. of the enclosures is a series of ring ditches
which may be barrows or hut-circles (BNFAS, 6 (1971),
9, Ecton (1)).
b(9) Roman Settlement (SP 824642). Air
photographs show a complex of enclosures and linear
ditches forming no coherent pattern. A little Roman
pottery has been found in the area (BNFAS, 2 (1967),
32; 4 (1970), 31; 6 (1971), 9, Ecton (3)).
b(10) Enclosures (centred SP 827640). Air
photographs show a series of rectangular enclosures and
linear ditches (BNFAS, 4 (1970), 31; 6 (1971), 9, Ecton
b(11) Enclosure (SP 826649). Air photographs
show a rectangular enclosure with an entrance on its N.E.
b(12) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 827647).
Roman pottery has been recorded (BNFAS, 6 (1971),
9, Ecton (2)).
b(13) Enclosure (SP 824635; Fig.50), immediately W. of the village on clay at 90 m. above OD.
Air photographs (in NMR) show indistinctly a group
of enclosures and associated ditches.
b(14) Roman Settlement (SP 824628), S.W.
of the village, on clay at 64 m. above OD. Roman
pottery, including samian, as well as fragments of roof
tile have been discovered. Cropmarks are also said to be
visible from the air. In the field to the S. more pottery
and some flint scrapers have been discovered (BNFAS,
6 (1971), 11, Ecton (7); OS Record Cards).
b(15) Roman Settlement (centred SP 836635;
Fig.50), immediately W. and N.W. of South Lodge, on
Northampton Sand at 90 m. above OD. Air photographs
(in NMR) show a series of cropmarks, including a
markedly rectangular enclosure with interior features, a
possible ditched trackway and part of another large
rectangular enclosure, with pits and other ditches.
However, the whole area is covered with extensive
frost-wedging and absolute certainty about the extent
and nature of the site is impossible. A few sherds of
Roman pottery as well as a single Iron Age sherd were
found in 1966 at the N. end of the site (SP 836636;
BNFAS, 2 (1967), 9; NM Records).
b(16) Roman Settlement (?) (SP 834638), E. of
Ecton Hall, on sand at 95 m. above OD. Rectangular
ditched features were seen from the air in 1964. Nearby,
in drainage ditches, Roman pottery has been discovered
(BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Ecton (5)).
Fig. 50 Ecton (13) Cropmarks
(15) Roman settlement
b(17) Roman Settlement (SP 837627; Fig.42),
in the S.E. of the parish, on clay and gravel at 57 m.
above OD. Air photographs (in NMR; CUAP, ADO 91,
ZE 29–30) show what is perhaps a large rectangular
enclosure divided into three parts, associated with a large
number of pits, probable pit alignments, and numerous
linear ditches. Roman pottery has been found in the area
(BNFAS, 1 (1966), 7; 6 (1971), 11, Ecton (8); Rescue
Publication 2, Northampton–Wellingborough Expressway
Arch. Survey, (1972), Map 3).
b(18) Roman Settlement and Pit Alignment (SP 837624; Fig.42), 300 m. S. of (17), on gravel.
Air photographs (CUAP, AFX 10–11) show a pit alignment running E.–W. and intersecting three parallel
ditches. To the S. are numerous pits and some ring
ditches or small enclosures some of which may be
hut-circles. Roman pottery has been found in the area.
b(19) Enclosures and Linear Ditches (SP
841627; Fig.42), 400 m. E. of (17), in a similar position.
Air photographs (in NMR) show a series of indeterminate cropmarks of linear ditches and enclosures. Worked
flints have been found in the area (BNFAS, 1 (1966), 5;
6 (1971), 11, Ecton (8); Northants. Archaeol., 8 (1973),
b(20) Roman Settlement (SP 819624), in the
S.W. of the parish, on gravel at 38 m. above OD. A
rectangular enclosure has been seen from the air at this
point, and a few sherds of Roman pottery have been
found on the ground. Worked flints have also been
discovered (BNFAS, 6 (1971), 11, Ecton (6); Rescue
Publication 2, Northampton Wellingborough Expressway
Arch. Survey, (1972)).
Medieval and Later
Part of an Anglo-Saxon loom weight has been found
in the parish (SP 835639; BNFAS, 2 (1967), 21).
b(21) Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (SP 830637),
found in 1762 in the gardens of Ecton House. Several
inhumation burials, orientated E.–W., were found,
apparently together with two silver coins, one of
Ethelred II (Meaney, Gazetteer, (1964), 189).
b(22) Ornamental Ponds (SP 832631), S. of
Ecton Hall, in the park. There is a series of irregular
embanked ponds, presumably made in the 18th or 19th
century and connected with emparking.
(23) Cultivation Remains. The common fields
of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament in
1759. A map of 1703 (NRO) shows that there were
already extensive old enclosures at that time. Around
1720 Bridges described the parish as 'generally open
fields with very little enclosure or wood' (J. Bridges,
Hist. of Northants., II (1791), 142). Ridge-and-furrow
of these fields can be seen on the ground or traced from
air photographs to the W. and S. of the village on land
that was old enclosures in 1703. S. of this in a field
called Flaxland, and E. to the parish boundary, the
blocks are arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs,
in general radiating E., W. and S. from the village down
the slopes of the broad spur on which it stands. In the
N. of the parish is an area called Great and Little Brackes
in 1703. The name suggests a relatively late intake of
land from the waste and two fragments of ridge-and-furrow survive within it. The S. of the parish, close to
the R. Nene and now mainly occupied by the sewage
farm, was formerly Great Cow Pasture, Sheep Pasture
and Great Meadow (RAF VAP 543/RAF/943, 0087–92;
F22 543/RAF/943, 0086–92, 0049–54; F21 543/RAF/
2409, 0126–30, 0154–7; F22 543/RAF/2409, 0126–
30; 3G TUD/UK/118, 6182–3; CPE/UK/2546, 3124–9).