Medieval hamlet uncovered near Daventry

Working on the house - about one third of its length is exposed here. The front wall and possible door are bottom right, and the back wall runs out the trench just beyond the archaeologists.

Working on the house - about one third of its length is exposed here. The front wall and possible door are bottom right, and the back wall runs out the trench just beyond the archaeologists.

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The homes that once housed 100 people in a medieval village near Daventry were uncovered by a team of volunteer archaeologists last week.

Working in a field off the B4036 Daventry-Long Buckby road members of CLASP dug into the history of Thrupp.

Locals may recognise the placename as it belongs to several farms along the road, but they may not realise that a little over 500 years ago it was a busy village, with its own chapel.

The settlement is mentioned in Domesday but by the end of the 15th century it was owned by the priory in Daventry.

Hard economics kicked in between 1486 and 1489 and all 100-or-so residents were evicted and their homes taken down, all to make way for more profitable sheep.

Now the very buildings those people lived in have been explored by members of CLASP.

David Haywood, chairman of CLASP’s trustees, said: “We knew the village was in the area. We have our own geophys machine, so we used that to look at this site, and the plot was covered in lines and features.

“What we had here was a medieval settlement of people living in small houses with their animals, on long thin plots of land stretching back from the road, which we discovered wasn’t in the same place as it is now!

“The houses are essentially longhouses; they had dry stone walls as a sill, with wattle and daub walls, and a cruck-frame roof.

“It was a small scale dig, using exploratory trenches. We wanted to discover the extent of it and get some dating evidence.”

CLASP (the Community Landscape Archaeology Survey Project) is made up of volunteers who have worked on sites along the A5 between the Long Buckby junction and Nether Heyford.

Although they are volunteers, they carry out proper archaeological work, and even in the short time they were digging last week they discovered a lot.

Mr Haywood said: “We think there was a medieval moated building at one end of the village, and the chapel – that survived until 1556 – at the other, with a road between with the house plots along.

“We’ve found a house, we know where the road or track went. We also found some mysterious pits that had been dug – one had a ox bone right at the bottom. We don’t really know what they were yet.

“The geophys also showed other features which we think are connected to Roman settlement as well.

“We found metal working slag in the next field, but we can’t tell if it’s Roman or medieval.

“It was probably a settlement just outside Bannaventa – a Roman way station near Whilton Locks.”

Stephen Young, the archaeological director, said: “We’re looking at the history of this area from the Iron Age, through the Roman and Saxon, and up to the Medieval.

“We don’t know what happened to the people who lived in Thrupp. We don’t know if their homes were torn down by the priory, or if they would have been allowed to take valuable bits, like the roof timbers, away.

CLASP always welcomes new volunteers.