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Daventry Burnt Walls

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Les Brendewalles

In the civil parish of Daventry.
In the historic county of Northamptonshire and the Soke of Peterborough.
Modern Authority of Northamptonshire.
1974 county of Northamptonshire.
Medieval County of Northamptonshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SP58556125
Latitude 52.24633° Longitude -1.14384°

Daventry Burnt Walls has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such, and also as a probable Fortified Manor House.

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Fortified enclosure of possible Iron Age, early medieval or medieval date and possible site of a medieval castle or moated manor, which lies in the south east of the parish immediately north of the A45 road against the Newnham parish boundary in the valley of a small east flowing brook. The remains consist of a roughly triangular enclosure bounded on the south west by a bank 2 metres high with an external ditch 2 metres deep and a low counterscarp bank beyond. There is a causeway across the ditch near the south end which may be an original entrance. At the south corner the ditch and counterscarp bank disappear and the main bank turns north east to follow the edge of the tributary stream. The site was allegedly "quarried" or robbed out in the post medieval period, prior to enclosure of the parish in 1802. An investigation carried out in 2001 by university College Northampton suggests that there may be five basic phases: a Saxon or earlier ringwork; a late Saxon or early Norman ringwork possibly identified with a burh or "stodfald" noted in charters; a 12th century castle, a possible later medieval period of destruction and evidence for stock keeping and ridge and furrow farming on the site, then finally post medieval robbing of stone from building remains. (PastScape)

Undated Enclosure (SP 585612; Fig. 58), known as Burnt Walls, lies in the S.E. of the parish, immediately N. of the A45 road, against the Newnham parish boundary in the valley of a small E.-flowing brook. It is set on a low ridge of Jurassic Clay at 136 m. above OD, between the main stream and a small tributary stream on the S. The remains consist of a roughly triangular enclosure bounded on the S.W. by a bank 2 m. high, with an external ditch 2 m. deep and a low counterscarp bank beyond. There is a causeway across the ditch near the S. end which may be an original entrance. At the S. corner the ditch and counterscarp bank disappear and the main bank turns N.E. to follow the edge of the tributary stream. The bank here is between 1 m. and 2 m. high but badly mutilated, especially by quarrying on the inside. A gap which does not appear to be original lies in the centre of the S.E. side. At the N.E. corner the bank is mutilated and only a low scarp above the stream now remains along the N. side and N.E. corner. At this latter place there is a modern entrance gap. The S. half of the interior has been entirely quarried away; the N. half is covered by ridge-and-furrow.
The site has been a curiosity for centuries and no satisfactory explanation for either its date or function has been forthcoming. Morton (Nat. Hist. of Northants. (1712), 519) recorded that 'many Loads of Stones of ruined Walls and Foundations have been digg'd up' and this is repeated by many later writers. Baker (Hist. of Northants., I (1822–30), 339) identified it with the site of Bannaventa, but noted that as it 'had been used before the inclosure as a kind of open quarry, further research would be fruitless'. Since that time dates ranging from the Iron Age to the medieval period have been suggested for this earthwork (OS Record Cards; VCH Northants., II (1906), 399; W. Edgar, Borough Hill and its History (1923), 48–9). About 1899 some depressions within the interior were examined. 'Trenches were run through several of them, but nothing was found' (Ann. Rep. Northants. Exploration Soc., (1900), 7). The site was described as early as 1255 as Les Brendewalles (PN Northants., 19) which suggests that it not only existed at that time, but that its use was already forgotten (air photographs in NMR). (RCHME)

The investigation carried out in 2001 by University College Northampton does not appear to have been published in a journal of record. Gatehouse can not see any real similarity between this site and Norman ringworks either in form or size. May have been a precursor to nearby John of Gaunt's castle and, if so, then this was a hunting lodge/manor house. This leads to questions as to the reason for the abandonment of this site and a rebuilding at the nearby site of seemingly very similar topography. However the RCHME compares this site with The Berry at Rothersthorpe which seems probably as a pre-Conquest Saxon thegnal burh site.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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