32 HEYFORD, NETHER
(OS 1:10000 a SP 65 NW, b SP 65 NE)
The small parish, covering just over 600 hectares,
lies S. of the R. Nene which forms its N. boundary.
Most of the N. half of the parish is low-lying ground
sloping gently towards the river between 70 m. and
100 m. above OD, on gravel and Middle Lias Clay.
In the S.W. the land rises more steeply across Upper
Lias Clay to a high area known as the Heyford Hills,
covered by Northampton Sand at 130 m. above OD.
Prehistoric and Roman
A partly polished stone axe was found in 1941 in a gravel
pit in the parish (SP 66615841; in Daventry School Museum). Two flint scrapers have also been discovered in the
same area (SP 666582; BNFAS, 7 (1972), 6).
b(1) Linear Ditches (SP 651592), in the N. of the parish,
just S. of the R. Nene, on gravel at 82 m. above OD. Air
photographs (NCAU) show three sinuous, roughly parallel, linear ditches, visible for 75 m.
b(2) Ring Ditches (?) (SP 653571), lie on the Heyford
Hills in the S.W. of the parish, on Northampton Sand at
125 m. above OD. Air photographs in NMR show very
indistinctly what appear to be two interlocked ring ditches,
one about 15 m. and the other about 20 m. in diam.
b(3) Roman Building (SP 666583), lies in a meadow
called Wonston, Horestone or Horsestone, to the E. of the
village, close to the R. Nene, at 70 m. above OD. This
land is said to have been regularly flooded in the past and
certainly no medieval ridge-and-furrow ever existed on it.
The building was discovered in 1699 when part of a polychrome mosaic with an elaborate geometrical design of
boxes framing patterns of duplex knots, guilloche and lotus
flowers was found. Other rooms were noted which had
plaster floors with coloured borders. Slates, tiles, painted
wall-plaster and pottery including samian were also recorded. In 1780 the mosaic was taken up and used for road
mending. The site was re-examined in 1821 but few finds
were made (J. Morton, Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 527;
J. Bridges, Hist of Northants., I (1791), 519; G. Baker, Hist.
of Northants., I (1822–30), 191; VCH Northants., I (1902),
196; A. Rainey, Mosaics in Roman Britain (1973), 122; P.
Corder (ed.), The Roman Town and Villa at Great Casterton,
second interim report (1954), 35–9). Roman pottery, part of
the mosaic and some wall footings were found during
digging on the site before 1952 (OS Record Cards). A few
sherds of pottery of 3rd and 4th-century date have been
noted on the site.
For Roman Road 1f, Watling Street, see Appendix.
Medieval and Later
A 15th-century bronze incense cup decorated with an
unidentified coat of arms has been found at 'Heyford'
b(4) Settlement Remains (SP 662585), formerly part of
Nether Heyford village, lay on the S.E. side of the village,
S. of Brook Farm, on gravel at 75 m. above OD. The site
has now been built over, but on air photographs taken
before destruction (RAF VAP 3G/TUD/UK/118, 6046–50) the
slight remains of banks and scarps, presumably the sites of
former houses, are visible. The loss of these remains means
that the relationship between the green at Nether Heyford
and the main part of the village which lies to the N.W. of
it can never be fully understood.
(5) Cultivation Remains. The date of the enclosure of
the common fields of Nether Heyford is unknown, but
was certainly before 1794 (NRO). Ridge-and-furrow of
these fields exists on the ground or can be traced on air
photographs over most of the parish, except on the low-lying floodable land close to the R. Nene. It is arranged
mainly in rectangular furlongs lying end-on or at right
angles to each other except on the steep land in the S.W.
of the parish where it all lies across the contours in a
radiating pattern. On the top of the Heyford Hills no
ridge-and-furrow is visible, probably because all trace of
it has been removed by modern cultivation of the light
Northampton Sand there. Much of the recoverable ridge-and-furrow is characterized by well-marked reversed-S
curves. (RAF VAP CPE/UK/1994, 1170–4, 3161–3; 3G/TUD/
UK/118, 6033–5, 6046–54; FSL6603, 2364–5, 2374–5, 2379–