The Archaeology of the Raunds area of Northamptonshire

By Tim Sharman

Tim was a member of the society until 1985 when he moved to Northamptonshire and became involved with this very large scale archaeological landscape project. The very stimulating lecture dealt with the Raunds area on the other side of the Fens. When he moved the area around Raunds was under threat from housing, gravel extraction and major bypass road projects. Rather than deal with these piecemeal, funding was obtained from English Heritage, Northamptonshire CC and the Manpower Services Commission. These funds were pooled to allow wide scale research into the archaeology of the whole area. The project was featured in British Archaeology at This web address

The project, which had a budget in excess of £2m and utilised 100 archaeologists at its peak! Tim started by taking part in the comprehensive field-walk of the whole area. Although the survey could not cover woodlands, permanent pasture or built-up areas, the team managed to survey over 70% of the land. A comprehensive analysis of the frequency of finds from each period was carried out and superimposed on the local maps. This allowed them to identify the major Iron Age, Roman and Saxon sites for further study.

Neolithic and Early Bronze Age

PreHistorical excavations at West Cotton

A major site consisting of barrows, a long mound and a long enclosure was excavated in West Cotton. Both the long barrow and the enclosure would have required considerable investment in man-power to construct being 135m and 120m long respectively and about 20m wide. The structures appeared to form part of a large ritual site and the alignment of the barrow may have linked the site with other contemporary structures in the same area.

Clicking on the sketch gives a plan of the site.

As well as West Cotton and Stanwick there was also significant excavation work in North Raunds by Northamptonshire Archaeological Unit , (particularly Langham Road and Burystead) and Irthlingborough island where significant Bronze Age barrows were excavated by the Oxford Unit.


The site of a Roman villa was discovered in the River Nene gravel beds. The villa had decorated mosaic floors in two of the rooms and these were recovered by English Heritage as the site was in the path of an encroaching gravel quary.

Another Romano-British villa was completely excavated at Redlands Farm nearby, also by the Oxford Unit (although this was not covered in detail in the lecture).

Saxon to Medieval

Saxon to Medieval Village

Another site excavated was a Saxon Manor House with a water-mill in the West Cotton area. The development and building and re-building of the manor could be followed from the archaeological evidence through into Norman times. Tim guided us through from the original house and mill with its associated palaeochannels (ancient abandoned water-courses) to the medieval hamlet where the water-mill had been abandoned and the manor-house relocated.

Clicking on the sketch to the left will show one of the series of site plans.

The society's thanks to Northamptonshire Archaeology and Northamptonshire County Council for allowing us to use the copyrighted accompanying sketches and plans.

Lecture Programme

The program of lectures for the next season can now be found under the 'Lectures' tab above.

Kettlewell Lane

Socially distanced visit and picnic

A successful picnic/guided visit to Kettlewell Lane and Littleport Street occurred on the first Sunday in October. But, at present no further events are organised.

WNKLAS In The News

The society has been in the local Newspapers recently in coverage of the conference to celebrate our 50year anniversary and also the presentation to John Smallwood one of the founders.

Press Article


King John's Treasure

The society's investigation of a local farm contributed to a programme made for US television as part of the Expedition Unknown series. This systematic survey of an area that was a likely route for the Royal Treasure was also the subject of a recent lecture evening.

More Information

The TV Programmes