(OS 1:10000 a SP 54 NW, b SP 54 NE)
The parish occupies an area of over 920 hectares. It
lies across the valleys of three small streams flowing
N.W. to the R. Cherwell on the N. boundary. Two
of these tributaries form the W. and N.E. boundaries. From the Cherwell, at about 115 m. above
OD, the land rises across Upper Lias Clay and Northampton Sand to a plateau of Oolite Limestone over
160 m. above OD in the S.E. of the parish. The
main monument is the medieval ring work (1) in the
centre of the village. The recorded village of Brime,
thought to be lost, may in fact be part of the existing
village of Culworth (2).
A 3rd-century Roman coin, of Quintillus, was found in
the parish before 1841 (A. Beesley, Hist. of Banbury (1841),
For possible Roman Road 56a, see Appendix.
Medieval and Later
a(1) Ringwork (SP 544470; Figs. 12 and 44; Plate 5),
known as Berry Hill, lies immediately N. of the church,
towards the S.E. end of the village, on Northampton Sand
at 165 m. above OD. The modern village of Culworth is
made up of at least two discrete settlements, Culworth and
Brime (see (2)). Brime has been identified as the S.E. part
of the village which includes the church and the ringwork.
In 1086 Brime was held by Landric of Gilo (VCH Northants., 1 (1902), 344). Landric also held part of Sulgrave
of Gilo and Gilo himself held Weedon Lois. These three
adjacent villages have similar ringworks (Sulgrave (3),
Weston and Weedon (5)) and all may date from the same
period. Only the one at Sulgrave has been excavated.
The site consists of a simple ringwork with no visible
outer bailey. It is almost exactly circular, surrounded by
a wide ditch up to 1.75 m. deep below the natural ground
surface outside and up to 3.5 m. deep below the inner
ramparts. The Old Rectory garden has encroached upon
the ditch on the S.E. and largely destroyed it. The circular
flat top of the mound is bounded, except on the W., by an
inner bank or rampart, nowhere more than 0.5 m. high.
In the S.E. corner this rampart has been cut away, apparently in the mid 19th century, as part of the improvements
to the garden of the adjoining Old Rectory. The rest of
the interior is flat and featureless. The field in which the
ringwork stands was known as Bury Close in 1839 (NRO,
Tithe Map). (CUAP, ABW93; VCH Northants., II (1906), 404;
G. Baker, Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 607)
Fig. 44 Culworth (1) Ringwork
a(2) Settlement Remains (SP 538471 and 545468; Fig.
12), formerly part of Culworth village, lay in two places.
At the N.W. end of the village, within the allotment gardens on the S. side of the main street, large quantities of
medieval and later pottery have been discovered. Some of
the more recent pottery may have been brought to the site
in refuse used on the allotments, but the 12th to 14th-century material as well as the 17th and 18th-century sherds
may indicate the existence of former buildings on this side
of the street. At the S.E. end of the village, on the S. side
of the street and immediately S. of the church and the Old
Rectory, are fragmentary earthworks indicating that buildings once stood there. At least one building still remained
in 1839 (NRO, Tithe Map). Although these remains are
insignificant in themselves, they may go a little way to
help explain the complex history of the village. Culworth
is mentioned in Domesday Book as a small manor with a
recorded population of 15 (VCH Northants., I (1902), 346).
However, Domesday Book notes another place apparently
also in Culworth parish, listed as Brime, with a recorded
population of 12 including a priest (VCH, op. cit., 344).
Brime does not. occur by name in later documents and it
has thus been identified as a village deserted at an early
date (K. J. Allison et al., The Deserted Villages of Northants.
(1966), 36). It has been tentatively sited in the N.W. of the
parish (at SP 527484) but fieldwork by RCHM and OS (OS
Record Cards) has revealed no possible trace of a deserted
village there, or indeed elsewhere in the parish. It is possible that Brime was a settlement which now forms part of
the existing village and was never deserted but only lost
its name. The record of a priest at Brime in 1086 may be
of significance in this respect for there is no evidence of
any church in the parish apart from the existing one in
Documents record another place in Culworth, also now
lost. This is Coten, Cotes, Cotes Culworth or Cotton
beside Culworth, first mentioned in about 1200 (PN Northants., 52; J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., I (1791), 164.
The documentary history of the area therefore suggests
that Culworth village is made up of more than one settlement, i.e. Culworth and Coten and perhaps Brime, and
is thus a settlement of polyfocal type (Med. Arch., 21
The present plan of the village fits this theory as it
consists of three distinct parts. In the N.W. is a long
straight street, now with buildings only on one side but,
from the evidence of the pottery noted above, once built
up on both sides. This part of the village may be the
Culworth of Domesday Book or the Coten of later documents, or both of them. In the S.E. is another single
street, also apparently once built up on both sides, with
the church and the ringwork (1) on the N. side. This, if
the Domesday Book record of a priest is correctly interpreted, could have been the original Brime. Between the
two streets lies a green, now of irregular shape, but clearly
once rectangular and much larger. All the buildings on the
E. of it and part of the grounds of the manor house in the
N.W. appear to be later encroachments. The origin of this
green between the two other settlements may be interpreted in two ways. It could be the original village of
Culworth, laid out immediately N.E. of the ringwork (1)
and from which the other settlement expanded, or it could
be a deliberately planned infill to provide a market place
between two existing settlements. The grant of a weekly
market and an annual fair to Richard de Coleworth in 1264
may be connected with the establishment of this market
place. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1099)
a(3) Ponds (SP 534471), lie W. of the village, in the
bottom of a narrow valley draining N., on Upper Lias
Clay at about 120 m. above OD. There is a long narrow
pond with, a little to the N., two small rectangular ones;
the northernmost has an island in it. In 1839 (NRO, Tithe
Map) these ponds were called Osier Beds.
a(4) Ponds (SP 541475), lie N. of the village, in the
bottom of a valley draining W., on Upper Lias Clay at
132 m. above OD. There are slight traces of two rectangular ponds lying within and S. of a loop in the stream.
In 1839 both lay in a field called Pond Close (NRO, Tithe
a(5) Ponds (SP 547466), lie S. of Culworth House, at the
extreme S.E. of the village, in the valley of a small W.-flowing stream, on clay at 152 m. above OD. A large
rectangular pond, with a massive dam 1.5 m. high, has a
smaller embanked pond to the N.E. In 1839 another long
narrow pond lay immediately to the N. (NRO, Tithe
Map). The site was then a watermill.
(6) Cultivation Remains. The common fields of the
parish were enclosed by agreement in 1612 (notes on
Northants. enclosures, Central Library, Northampton).
Ridge-and-furrow of these fields exists on the ground or
can be traced on air photographs over most of the parish.
On the lower flatter ground it is arranged in interlocked
furlongs, many of reversed-S form, but on the edges of
the rising ground it is in end-on furlongs running across
the contours. One exception to this is in the N. of the
parish, beside the R. Cherwell, where there are long
sweeps of end-on furlongs parallel to the contours on the
sloping valley sides. In the same area (SP 541489) one of
these furlongs is set below a steep natural scarp caused by
landslips. Here the ridge-and-furrow narrows, the ridges
joining together and curving markedly to avoid the lower
projections of the landslip. Other details are of interest.
For example, on a steep N.-facing slope immediately N.
of the village (SP 542473) a broad hollow-way passes between the furlongs and links the W. part of Culworth with
the ponds (4) and the meadowland along the stream. (RAF
VAP CPE/UK/1926, 1061–8; CPE/UK/1994, 1099–1101, 2096–
7, 3099–103; 106G/UK/721, 4000–2)
a(7) Burials (SP 548468), at the E. end of the village, on
Northampton Sand at 167 m. above OD. Two shallow
graves containing inhumations were found in 1953 when
council houses were being built. There were no grave
goods except for an object said to resemble 'a thin cylinder
of coal'. (Cake and Cockhorse, 2 (1965), 110)