RINGWORK, HALL BARNS, BRIXWORTH SP 744707
There appear to be remains of a ringwork in a field on the south-west side of Brixworth village, in the locality formerly called ‘Hall Barns’. The ringwork, at about 115 metres O.D., has been greatly reduced by ploughing, and now consists of a low spread bank about 20 metres broad. The enclosed space is oval, at least 16 metres north-south by 14, the spread being very gradual. The gap on the north-east may not be original. There appears to have been a wide ditch on the south and west, and possibly an annexe or bailey to the north into the angle between two gullies. Access by permission of Mr T. J. Leagas, Moulton.
The ringwork was contained in the south angle of the triangular plot shown on the 1688 Map of Brixworth, bearing the name ‘Hall Barns’. The triangular plot was bounded on the east by the continuation of Poyncill Way on the 1688 map (now Woodhouse Lane), and on the north, by the valley extending west of the village, in the angle between two gullies. Being within this triangle, it was probably protected from cultivation until the 18th or 19th century, the triangle presumably being occupied by farm buildings and yards associated with Brixworth Manor; the present farmstead lies north-east. Indeed the existence of the remains may be the reason this triangular space evolved.
It appears to have been created by scooping out a ditch from the crest of the valley side to isolate the ring bank. The ridge or causeway across the ditch on south-west may be the continuation of a lynchet/headland apparent to the west, rather than a link to the low ridge that appears to bound the northward continuation of the ditch. This ridge, and one projecting from the ring, may form the west side of an annexe or bailey, the ditch between them being on the axis of the western gully. However, the area in the angle of the two gullies is much disturbed by farming activities, including a prominent bank and a pit; these features are estimates and not measured out on the sketch. The raised ground flanking the roadside wall, while possibly ploughing residue, does show the stub of the north-west arc of the ring, and might indicate the eastern side of the annexe.
It is suggested the ringwork represents the early Norman manorial site for Brixworth, but it is also possible that the ring developed from a late Saxon precursor. Although the location is 500 metres south-west of Brixworth Church, its early foundation and associated ground might have precluded a manor site close to it. Bridges c1720 described vestiges of old trenches north of the church, but Pavey in 1902 (Arch. Socs’ Reports & Papers vol 26 p441-8) describes just a ditch here, so this need not indicate the site of the manor. Poyncill Way, which passes on the east, extends from Kings Ford (now Merry Tom Crossing) at SP 733680 and continues towards the church; this might have been the medieval axis of Kingsthorpe village. As such the ringwork may help to elucidate the late Saxon/Early Norman evolution of Kingsthorpe village.
Dr Thomas C. Welsh 26th June 2005
School of Applied Science, University College Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Road, Northampton, NN2 7AL