(OS 1: 10000 a SP 66 SW, b SP 66 NW)
The parish occupies only 300 hectares and lies on the E.
side of Watling Street which forms the whole of the W.
boundary; the S. boundary is determined by the Whilton
Brook. Another Roman Road, 17, crosses the parish,
running E.–W., but does not ever seem to have formed
part of its boundary. The parish is roughly rectangular
except for an oval projection from the N.E. corner, an area
known as Roughmoor. The latter is contiguous with
Whilton, with the former land of Muscott (Norton (11))
and with Brington; its name, shape and position suggest
that it was once an area of common waste (see (2)).
The E.-sloping land in the W. of the parish, between
120 m. and 90 m. above OD, is covered by glacial sands
and gravels, and E. of this a wide band of alluvium
occupies the valley floor. From there the land rises again to
the E., across Lias clays and Marlstone. The higher ground,
over 125 m. above OD, is overlaid by Boulder Clay;
glacial deposits also cover most of the area of Roughmoor.
The settlement remains of Brockhall village (1) constitute
the main monument in the parish.
Prehistoric and Roman
A polished axe of mottled green stone, found in 1959, is
in Daventry School. A Mesolithic core is recorded from the
parish (NM Records). Roman coins have also been found,
perhaps near Watling Street, for in the 19th century Baker
said that 'Roman coins are still occasionally found at
Brockhole' (Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 119).
On air photographs (CUAP, AW048, 50, and in NMR) a
circular feature 15 m. in diam. with an entrance on the W.
is visible with, to the W., a group of three more circles
arranged in a clover-leaf pattern. These have been
described as ring ditches but are more likely to be the
remains of a Second World War anti-aircraft battery (SP
628614; see also Brixworth and Harlestone).
For Roman Roads 1f, Watling Street, and 17, see
Medieval and Later
a(1) Settlement remains (SP 634625 and 632629; Fig.
32), formerly part of Brockhall, lie at each end of the
existing hamlet on Marlstone Rock at about 110 m. above
OD. The village has been included in the county list of
deserted villages (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of
Northants. (1966), 36) but in fact it appears to be much the
same size today as it always has been and the remains
indicate little more than minor shrinkage.
Brockhall is first mentioned in Domesday Book, and is
described with Muscott (Norton (11)) which lies only
1 km. to the N.W., the two having a recorded population
of six (VCH Northants., I (1902), 325). In the 1301 Lay
Subsidy it is again listed with Muscott, with a total of 48
tax-payers (PRO, E179/155/31), but this figure probably
refers mainly to Muscott, for there is no evidence that
Brockhall was ever large whereas earthworks at Muscott
suggest that this was once a substantial village. Brockhall is
separately mentioned in the Nomina Villarum of 1316, and
in 1334 it paid 53s. 6½d. for the Lay Subsidy (PRO,
E179/155/3). By 1377 only five people over the age of 14
paid the Poll Tax in Brockhall and Muscott (PRO,
E179/155/27) but most if not all of these must have lived in
Brockhall as Muscott had probably been abandoned by
then. In 1524 when the two places were again combined
for the Taxation of the Laity only nine people were
recorded (PRO, E179/155/134) most of whom presumably
lived at Brockhall. The Hearth Tax Returns of 1674 list 17
houses for Brockhall and Muscott (PRO, E179/254/14) but
as, by 1720, Bridges noted that there were 12 houses at
Brockhall and three at Muscott the 1674 figure must again
refer mainly to Brockhall (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 483).
The earliest map of the parish to show any part of the
village is dated 1787 (NRO) but this only covers the area
N.W. of the main N.–S. road. It shows that the road did
not make a marked bend at the S. end of the park as it does
today, but ran on a little further to meet another road
climbing the hillside from Dodford. It then swung N.E.
onto the line of the existing road immediately W. of
Brockhall Manor. The old road is still visible in the
shrubbery near the park entrance as a fragmentary hollow-way 1.5 m. deep ('a' on plan) and the road to the S.W.
survives as a massive ditch some 2 m. deep running down
the hillside ('b' on plan).
Fig. 32 Brockhall (1)
The existing Brockhall Hall was built soon after 1625
when the Thornton family acquired the manor. The 1787
map shows the hall much as it is today but with two ranges
of buildings extending S.W. from it to form an enclosed
courtyard. These buildings are traditionally said to have
been part of the village, but the plan shows clearly that they
were outbuildings of the hall and this is confirmed by an
engraving of the house of c. 1800 (BM). The same map
shows that the area N.E. of the church and N. of the
through-road was then called Brockhall Green.
A slightly later map, of 1793 (NRO), depicts only a
small part of the village E. of the church. It shows that
Dairy Cottage did not exist at that time, but that the
cottages E. of the church were there. It also shows that
three embanked closes further N.E. along the road ('c' on
plan) were already devoid of buildings though they are
obviously the sites of at least three former houses and
gardens. Two other maps, an Estate Plan of 1821 and the
Tithe Map of 1839 (both in NRO), show the village as it is
today with the buildings around the courtyard of the hall
demolished and the present road system in being.
The written sources and the map evidence thus suggest
that Brockhall was always a small village laid out along a
single street, but had perhaps suffered some shrinkage at its
N. end by the late 18th century. The building of the hall in
the early 17th century may have led to the removal of
earlier buildings S.E. of the church but there is no direct
evidence for this; the alterations to the park between 1787
and 1821 led to the abandonment and alteration of the
roads at the S.E. end of the village.
(2) Cultivation remains. The common fields of the
parish were enclosed by private agreement in 1619–20. The
earliest map of the parish, dated 1614 (NRO), only covers
the land immediately E. of Watling Street but shows that
this area was already partly in old enclosures at that date.
This suggests that some enclosure had taken place before
1620. Ridge-and-furrow can be traced on the ground or
on air photographs throughout the greater part of the
parish; in the centre and E. the pattern is virtually
complete. It is laid out in end-on and interlocking furlongs
carefully adapted to the direction of the often rather steep
slopes. It is noteworthy that ridge-and-furrow exists in the
part of the parish projecting to the N. and known as
Roughmoor or sometimes as Ringmere, which was
probably an area of common waste. There are extremely
well-preserved areas of ridge-and-furrow S.E. of the
village (SP 365623) and to the N. on either side of a broad
valley (SP 633630; RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 3254–6, 2260–3,