(OS 1: 10000 a SP 67 NE, b SP 67 SW, c SP 67 SE)
The parish, covering just over 900 hectares, was formerly
much larger and in medieval times included the present
parish of Hollowell, and probably the hamlet and land of
Coton which is now in Ravensthorpe parish (Ravensthorpe
(9)). The village of Guilsborough and most of the W. part
of the parish lie on a N.W.–S.E. ridge of Northampton
Sand overlaid by patches of Boulder Clay and glacial sands
and gravels, between 150 m. and 180 m. above OD. To
the E. and N.E. the land slopes across Upper Lias Clay to
the valley of the Hollowell Brook, here flowing about
120 m. above OD. A second ridge, of Northampton Sand
capped by Boulder Clay rising to about 140 m. above OD,
separates this valley from the Cottesbrooke Stream which
forms the N.E. boundary. The present village is roughly
L-shaped and is made up of two distinct medieval
settlements, each with its own land unit (Fig. 14) the
boundaries of which are shown on the Tithe Map of 1848
(NRO). Guilsborough itself consisted of the main
N.W.–S.E. street; the triangular green in the N.W. and
the single street running N.E. with earthworks at its N.E.
end was the hamlet of Nortoft (6), listed as a separate
settlement in Domesday Book. This means that the earlier
assumption that Nortoft was an unlocated deserted village
is no longer valid (M. W. Beresford, The Lost Villages of
England (1954), 370). A number of possible small Roman
sites have been discovered by recent fieldwork in the parish.
Of greater significance is the suggestion, first found in the
works of early antiquarians in the county, that a Roman
settlement of major importance lay immediately W. of the
village, in Guilsborough Park (5). The possible existence of
such a centre at this early date is of interest and could have
some bearing both on the origins of the place-name and on
the extent of the early medieval land unit containing the
modern parishes of Guilsborough, Ravensthorpe and
Fig. 74 Flore (4) Deserted village of Glassthorpe
Prehistoric and Roman
Two large polished Neolithic flint axes were found in the
parish before 1912 (OS Record Cards; NM). Other flint
implements, described as spears, were found in 1949 (SP
673731; OS Record Cards).
c(1) Enclosure (?) (SP 690733), in the E. of the parish,
on Northampton Sand at 122 m. above OD. Air
photographs (not seen by RCHM) are said to show
cropmarks of a rectangular feature (BNFAS, 5 (1971), 42).
c(2) Roman settlement (?) (SP 678740), N.E. of Nortoft
Grange, on gravel at 122 m. above OD. Roman pottery
has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975), 154).
c(3) Roman settlement (?) (SP 662741), S.E. of Nortoft
Lodge, on Northampton Sand at 180 m. above OD.
Roman pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10
c(4) Roman settlement (?) (SP 660730), S. of Lindow
Spinney, on sand and gravel at 155 m. above OD. Roman
pottery has been found (Northants. Archaeol., 10 (1975),
c(5) Enclosure and (?) Roman settlement (SP 673729;
Fig. 75), lay immediately W. of the village of
Guilsborough, on the summit of the hill, on Northampton
Sand at 165 m. above OD. The site has been almost
completely destroyed, but there seems to have been an
enclosure of some kind bounded by a bank and ditch. This
enclosure may relate to the 'borough' element of the place-name.
The earliest and most complete descriptions of the site
were made in the early 18th century by the two county
historians (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 524; J.
Bridges, Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 566). It was then said to
be 'the large remains of a Roman encampment . . . . The
form of it, like the more common Roman Camps, is an
oblong square, the shorter side running from N. to S. It
seems to have been fenced with a broad, deep, single
entrenchment. The agger of this fortification is still visible;
and as far as could be judged . . . the longest parallel is
between five and six hundred foot, the shortest about three
hundred. The area included is about eight acres. It is called
the Burrows or Burrow-Hill'.
Fig. 75 Guilsborough (5) Roman
(copied from a plan published in 1849)
The S. bank and presumably the E. bank seem to have
been partly removed in the early 19th century when
skeletons were found as well as a large stone coffin 'in the
north west corner'. A plan of the site (Fig. 75) was made
soon afterwards and published in Wetton's Guide Book
(1849). Further levelling of the S. side took place in 1870
and some pottery, then said to be Roman, was discovered.
This is reputed to have been given to NM but there is no
trace of it there. On air photographs taken before 1947
some possible remains are visible. The W. corner of the
enclosure is recognizable as a mutilated rounded mound,
apparently projecting forward N.W. beyond the line of the
corner formed by the N.W. and S.W. sides which show as
low scarps. A possible S. corner is also visible and this too
seems to have had a projecting part. The N.E. side is
marked by a natural scarp but there is no trace of the S.E.
side. On this evidence the attribution of a Roman date
seems unlikely though the ground had been so disturbed by
later activity that the air photographic evidence is suspect.
Since 1947 the whole area has been cleared and levelled.
Only a mutilated mound 2 m. high, perhaps the W. corner
(SP 67357286), and a short length of bank 1 m. high which
might be part of the N.W. side (SP 67557288) remain. A
large quantity of Roman pottery was discovered
somewhere in the area in about 1910 during the digging of
foundations for a bungalow (E. L. Renton, Records of
Guilsborough, Nortoft and Hollowell (1929), 2). This pottery
was given to NM (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1467–8).
Medieval and Later
c(6) Settlement remains (SP 676735), formerly part of
the hamlet of Nortoft, lie to the E. of the existing houses,
on Northampton Sand at 150 m. above OD. The remains
consist of one well-defined close and an area of disturbed
ground (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1466–7).
c(7) Dam (SP 666748), in the bottom of the valley of a
N.E.-flowing brook, on the boundary between Thornby
and Guilsborough parishes, on clay at 140 m. above OD. It
consists of a low bank some 1.5 m. high partly spanning
the stream. This dam presumably held back water for a
small fishpond or mill-pond the edges of which are still
visible as a low scarp to the W.
(8) Cultivation remains. The common fields of
Guilsborough were enclosed by an Act of Parliament of
1764. The common fields of Nortoft were enclosed by
agreement in 1588 (NRO, Fermor Hesketh Baker, 715a).
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or
can be traced on air photographs over large parts of the
parish though the pattern is far from complete. It appears to
be arranged in end-on and interlocked furlongs carefully
adapted to the natural topography (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994,
1464–71; 540/474, 3151–6).