17 CLAY COTON
(OS 1: 10000 a SP 57 NE, b SP 67 NW)
The parish is one of the smallest in Northamptonshire,
only a little over 400 hectares in area, and is almost
rectangular. It occupies the E. part of valley of a
W.-flowing tributary of the R. Avon so that the highest
points are on the N., S. and E. boundaries of the parish
where the land rises to 120 m. The wide, flat valley floor
with its meandering stream is at about 100 m. above OD.
In the N. an area of Lower Lias Clay is exposed but the
greater part of the parish is covered by glacial deposits,
particularly Boulder Clay, and by alluvium.
The village may be secondary to Lilbourne. This is
suggested not only by the name Coton, but also by the
shapes of the two parishes in relationship to each other (Fig.
Fig. 42 Clay Coton and Lilbourne
Medieval settlements and estates
Medieval and Later
(1) Medieval coin hoard (unlocated), found near the
village several years before 1865. A hoard of 435 15th-century groats, mostly of Edward IV but some as early as
Henry IV and some as late as Henry VII, was discovered in
a small earthenware pot with an olive-green glaze (PSA, 3
(1865), 77; Num. Chron., New Series, 6 (1866), 136).
a (2) Settlement remains (SP 594770; Figs. 42 and 43),
formerly part of Clay Coton, lie in and around the existing
village on alluvium at 103 m. above OD. The village is not
recorded by name until 1175 (PN Northants., 66) but it is
almost certainly included silently in Domesday Book in the
entry for the adjacent village of Lilbourne. Its name, its
position on low-lying ground in the valley of the small
W.-flowing brook, and the relationship of its parish
boundary to that of Lilbourne (Fig. 42) all suggests that the
settlement may have been a secondary or daughter hamlet
of Lilbourne and may always have been very small. There
is no record of its size until 1523 when the village was taxed
at 22s. 6d. (PRO, E179/155/161), the smallest amount paid
in this part of Northamptonshire except by settlements
already deserted, but 34 people paid the Hearth Tax in 1673
(PRO, E179/254/14), an unusually high figure indicating
that the village had increased in size. In the early 18th
century Bridges (Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 548) said that
there were 25 houses in the village and in 1801, 116 people
lived in the parish. On the Tithe Map of 1839 (NRO) some
15 buildings are marked, all possibly houses though some
must have been sub-divided into separate tenements. Three
of these houses have since been demolished.
The remains are very fragmentary, consisting of
mutilated scarps, banks and ditches forming no coherent
pattern but, though difficult to interpret, the earthworks
and the limits of the surrounding ridge-and-furrow serve
to indicate that there were once houses on both sides of the
road leading N. from the church and possibly on the N.
side of the road which formerly ran W. to Lilbourne. From
the Tithe Map it appears that the village once had a large,
roughly triangular green S. of the church and on both sides
of the stream. This green had already been encroached
upon by 1839 and is now almost destroyed (RAF VAP
106G/UK/636, 4164–66; air photographs in NMR).
(3) Cultivation remains. The common fields of Clay
Coton were enclosed by agreement in 1663 (NRO, s (G)
79). Ridge-and-furrow of these fields can be traced on the
ground or from air photographs over almost the entire
parish with the exception of about 30 hectares in the S.E.
The greater part of the ridge-and-furrow is arranged in
end-on furlongs, orientated N.–S. down the main valley
sides (RAF VAP 106G/UK/636, 4162, 4473–9).
Fig. 43 Clay Coton (2) Settlement remains