OS 1:10000 a SP 86 SE, b SP 85 NE)
The roughly rectangular parish of 685 hectares lies S.E.
of the R. Nene which forms its N.W. boundary. The
greater part near the river is a flat area of gravel and
Upper Lias Clay, between 46 m. and 53 m. above OD. In
the S. and S.E. the land rises steeply across outcrops of
limestones and silts to a Boulder Clay table-land at about
75 m. above OD. Air photography of the large spreads of
gravel in the N. of the parish has led to the discovery of
a remarkable series of cropmark sites dating from the
prehistoric and Roman periods. Boulder Clay soils in the
S. which are less responsive to aerial photography have
also produced evidence of early settlement, but the
information has come from fieldwork rather than
Fig. 53 Grendon (2–7) Cropmarks
Prehistoric and Roman
Three bronze coins, of Faustina (Senior), Constantius
II and Constantine I have been found in the village, and
Roman pottery and another coin are also recorded from
an unknown locality in the parish (OS Record Cards).
a(1) Ring Ditch and Linear Ditch (?) (SP
859614), in the extreme W. of the parish, on gravel at
48 m. above OD. Air photographs (in NMR) show,
rather indistinctly as a cropmark in permanent pasture, a
circular feature, 12 m. in diam., with an L-shaped length
of ditch to the S. and E.
a(2) Ring Ditch, Enclosures, Ditches and
Pit Alignment (centred SP 881614; Fig. 53), N. of
Hall Farm, on gravel at 53 m. above OD. Air photographs
(in NMR) show cropmarks, on land much disturbed by
ice-wedging, of a double ring ditch about 30 m. in diam.
(at SP 88206145). A semi-circle of stones has been
noted at this point. There is a trapezoidal enclosure to
the S.E.. To the S.W. (at SP 880613) there is a roughly
D-shaped enclosure, covering a little less than 1 hectare
It is divided into two parts and is crossed diagonally by
a pit alignment. A smaller enclosure overlaps its S.W.
corner. Other internal features are unclear. At SP 878614
there is a ditch which may form part of three sides of
another large enclosure. The whole area of some 12
hectares is crossed by several lengths of ditch and some
other indeterminate features are also visible (OS Record
Cards; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 12, Grendon (2); Northants.
Archaeol., 9 (1974), 44).
a(3–6) The West Grendon Complex (centred
SP 872618; Fig.53; Plate 2), N.E. of the Electricity Grid
Sub-Station, close to the R. Nene, on gravel at 46 m.
above OD. Air photographs (in NMR, and CUAP, ADO
85–6, ABG 27, ABW 95, AVD 38, BCJ 65, ZE 61–2, 66,
ZJ 70–2) show an extensive area of cropmarks including
ring ditches, enclosures and linear ditches. Field-walking
and excavation, before destruction by gravel working,
have shown that these remains reflect activity of several
For Saxon occupation on this site, see (14).
(3) Bronze Age Barrows (SP 87376188 –
87176161). There are at least seven barrows arranged in
a rough line from S.W. to N.E. Six of them, including
two double-ditched examples, have been either totally or
partly excavated. One of the double-ditched ones (SP
87286166) had causeways across the inner and outer
ditches. This barrow, a smaller one which intersected it
and a third one immediately to the N.W. (SP 87236168)
all contained unaccompanied inhumations. Secondary
cremations, including one covered by a group of small
urns, were discovered in the area between the two
barrows. No burials were found in the other three
barrows which were excavated (SP 87386188, 87356182
and 87186162). Another ring ditch visible on air photographs (SP 87336174) was not dug. Severe flooding in
pre-Belgic times had apparently removed both mound
and ancient soil from all but one of the barrows. All the
excavated ones were crossed by late Iron Age or Roman
ditches and one contained a Roman kiln (OS Record
Cards; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 12, Grendon (3); DOE, Arch.
Excavations 1974, (1975), 30–1; Britannia, 6 (1975),
(4) Prehistoric Pits (SP 87256174). Excavations
in this area revealed a roughly circular array of 50 round
and 6 rectangular pits, cut across by late Iron Age or
later ditches. The pits were of at least two phases; the
rectangular ones and the deeper round ones were cut
into by shallower pits. No dating evidence was found but
a crouched inhumation of an adult and child was
discovered in one pit, and the skull of a dog in another
(DOE, Arch. Excavations 1974, (1975), 30).
(5) Iron Age Enclosure (SP 87216160),
trapezoidal in shape and about 80 m. by 60 m. Excavation has revealed an entrance on the E. side, flanked
by two large post-holes. In the interior there was a
circular drip-gulley of a round house, about 13 m.
in diam. At the W. end of the interior two parallel
ditches were found, which were probably the E. and W.
sides of a long narrow enclosure at right-angles to and
extending beyond the excavated one and visible on air
photographs. Pottery from the main enclosure ditch
was said to indicate 'occupation towards the end of the
pre-Belgic Iron Age' (DOE, Arch. Excavations 1974,
(6) Iron Age and Roman Settlement and
Roman Kilns (centred SP 872617). Air photographs
show the whole area round the excavations of 1974 to be
covered with linear ditches and enclosures. Where these
impinged upon the parts investigated they proved to be
of late Iron Age or Roman date. An early Roman kiln
was discovered during the excavation of one of the
barrows, and a line of stone-lined post-holes elsewhere.
Field-walking had previously produced a scatter of Iron
Age pottery on the site while Roman material, including
a scatter of limestone, pottery, half a quernstone,
roofing tiles and a fragment of a fire bar and kiln-lining,
was discovered to the E. of the main group of cropmarks
(SP 873615; OS Record Cards; BNFAS, 6 (1971), 12,
Grendon (3); Ant. J., 49 (1969), 95; DOE, Arch. Excavations 1974, (1975), 31).
a(7) Ring Ditches, Enclosures and Pit
Alignments (centred SP 879622; Fig.53), cover an
area of some 22 hectares, W. of the Old Lodge, on the
N. edge of the parish on gravel at 42 m. above OD. Air
photographs (CUAP, ZE 52–9, ZJ 73–4, AVD 43, BCJ
72–3, and in NMR) show a complex pattern of
cropmarks. The N.W. group comprises at least seven
ring ditches of which two are double-ditched (SP
87716230 and 87816225). These are about 20 m.-35 m.
in diam. except for one which is only 10 m. in diam. (SP
87756232). The ring ditches are intersected by subrectangular enclosures and lengths of ditch. On the S.W.
side of this group there is a large circular feature some
60 m. in diam., bounded by an exceptionally wide ditch.
Within it and near its S.E. side is a U-shaped length of
ditch. Immediately to the E. is a rectangular enclosure,
covering about 1 hectare and intersected by other ditches
and two pit alignments the southernmost of which runs
S.E. for 320 m. (SP 88006230–88236209). The two
alignments are themselves crossed at right-angles by a
third, traceable for 140 m. immediately E. of and parallel
with the E. side of the enclosure. A ring ditch at SP
88136223 is crossed by another short length of pits and
ditches. There are also ditches, enclosures and pit
alignments, centred SP 878620 and elsewhere in the
surrounding area (OS Record Cards; BNFAS, 6 (1971),
12, Grendon (1)). Iron Age pottery has been found in
the area (local inf.).
a(8) Iron Age Site (SP 891613), in the E. of the
parish on limestone at 52 m. above OD. A few sherds of
Iron Age pottery have been found (OS Record Cards).
b(9) Iron Age Pottery and Roman Building (SP 87975997), S. of the village, on limestone at
78 m. above OD. Iron Age sherds, under a 4th-century
structure of wood and plaster, were found during the
building work. Three coins of Valens were also found,
and Roman pottery, including samian, was discovered
near by (at SP 880598); OS Record Cards; Beds. Arch. J.,
3 (1966), 5).
b(10) Roman Settlement (SP 877595), in the
S. of the parish, on Boulder Clay at 70 m. above OD.
Several areas of limestone rubble and roof tile, associated
with Roman pottery, were recorded in 1966. A 4th-century bronze coin was found in 1971 and another in
1974 (BNFAS, 1 (1966), 8; 6 (1971), 13; Northants.
Archaeol., 9 (1974), 89).
b(11) Roman Site (SP 883594), S.E. of Top Farm,
on limestone at 62 m. above OD. Roman pottery and
building stone were found (Beds. Arch. J., 3 (1966), 5).
a(12) Roman Settlement (SP 89776106), in the
extreme E. of the parish, on Boulder Clay at 70 m.
above OD. Roman pottery and building stone were
found over an area of slightly under 1 hectare (Beds.
Arch. J., 3 (1966), 3–5).
Medieval and Later
A silver penny of Edward I or III, York Mint, is
recorded from the parish (at SP 88006081; Northants.
Archaeol., 10 (1975), 167).
a(13) Anglo-Saxon Cemetery (?) (unlocated).
Records (in NM) mention the discovery of Saxon burials
within the parish, but details are lacking (OS Record
Cards; Meaney, Gazetteer, 189).
a(14) Saxon Settlement (SP 877623), within
the West Grendon Complex (3–6). During stripping
of topsoil before gravel-quarrying a number of shallow
scoops, containing charcoal, scraps of bone and a few
Saxon sherds, were discovered. Two shallow ditches and
a pit, also containing Saxon pottery, were revealed; there
were some human bones in the pit. In the same area at
least one oval iron-smelting pit of unknown date was
noted. More sherds of Saxon pottery have been collected
from the field to the S. (inf. G.R. Foard).
Fig. 54 Grendon (15)
Settlement remains of Cotton
a(15) Settlement Remains (SP 874610; Fig.54),
perhaps a lost hamlet of Cotton, lie N.W. of Grendon on
the N.E. side of a small stream, on gravel at 50 m. above
OD. The field name, Cotton Closes, suggests a former
settlement here, and a place called Cotton is recorded in
the 14th century (Cal. Inq. Misc. III (1348–77), 5). On
air photographs taken before and after destruction by
ploughing (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1997–8; F21 543/
RAF/943, 0045–6) a number of features are discernable.
These include traces of a hollow-way approaching the
site from the N.E., a series of embanked closes to the
S.E. of the hollow-way, and beyond an embanked
trapezoidal enclosure, perhaps moated. A ditched
rectangular enclosure and a well-marked ditch, perhaps
natural, are also visible. In 1970 a scatter of medieval
pottery and a large quantity of limestone, reputedly
from building foundations, were discovered (NM;
BNFAS, 5 (1971), 44; Med. Arch., 15 (1971), 169;
Beds. Arch. J., 3 (1966), 59).
Fig. 55 Grendon (16) Moat
a(16) Moat (SP 88086097; Fig. 55), N. of the village
between Grendon Hall and Hall Farm, on alluvium at
50 m. above OD. It is perhaps the site of one of the
medieval manor houses of Grendon, and may be that
described in 1325 as consisting of 'a messuage with a
ditch and a garden' held by Richard de Harrington (VCH
Northants., IV (1937), 249).
It consists of an almost square island, completely
surrounded by a wide shallow ditch only 1 m. deep.
Immediately to the W. is a large rectangular pond, much
altered and now dry, except for a later pool in the
interior. N. of the moat an ill-defined ditch extends N.
and then turns E. where it becomes much larger and up
to 1.5 m. deep. This may be the boundary of an
associated enclosure, the E. side of which is now marked
by a low scarp, perhaps the edge of an earlier road leading
S. to Grendon village. In the N.E. corner of the enclosure
is a raised rectangular area, perhaps the site of a building
(RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1997–8).
a(17) Settlement Remains (SP 877604),
formerly part of Grendon village, lie immediately W. of
the village, on clay at 60 m. above OD. They consist of a
rectangular platform, 20 m. by 30 m., with scarps on its
S. and W. sides, some 1 m. high. There is a second scarp
0.5 m. high to the W. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/2546, 4132–
(18) Cultivation Remains. The common fields
of the parish were enclosed by Act of Parliament in
1780 (VCH Northants., IV (1937), 249). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields remains on the ground or can be
traced from air photographs over most of the parish with
the exception of a large area in the N. close to the R.
Nene (J.M. Steane, The Northamptonshire Landscape,
(1974), 90). It is arranged in end-on and interlocked
furlongs, some of which are of pronounced reversed-S
form. The interlocking usually seems to result from the
arrangement of ridges at right-angles to the contours in
an area of uneven relief (RAF VAP F22 543/RAF/943,
0044–6; F21 543/RAF/943, 0042–9; F22 543/RAF/
2409, 0132–5, 0160–2; F21 543/RAF/2409, 0158–62;
F22 540/RAF/1312, 0289–0294; CPE/UK/1994,
1195–1202, 3187–9; CPE/UK/2546, 4132–7; 3130–3).