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The Heights, Little Bowden, April 2010

The Heights is part of a 1970s development of detached houses extending from the site in a north eastern direction down to Kettering Road (Clack Hill). The western boundary hedge of the property is adjacent to a large area of arable land where recent planning permission for housing has been granted.

Archaeological investigation of this area carried out by Northamptonshire Archaeology on behalf of Leicestershire County Council included a magnetometry survey on which the main feature shown is a possible ditch more or less following this boundary.  The western boundary of the property is also shown as a field boundary on earlier maps. 

Approximately half of the back garden (furthest from the house) was purchased after the house was built and was previously part of the garden of Windy Ridge, an older property at the end of Shrewsbury Avenue.  Prior to the development of The Heights, the area was used for agriculture, possibly pasture, as the ridge and furrow of the open field system remains on view and has not been ploughed out.  The ridges run east-west across the rear half of the garden.  These ridges were part of Middle Furlong in the East Field of Little Bowden.  The soil is plough worked clay loam over a natural clay base.

Great Bowden Heritage was asked by the owners to investigate two oval shaped earth mounds in the back garden in the area more recently purchased.  The smaller mound just inside the back hedge of the property was about 8.3 metres long and 3.9 metres wide with a height of approximately 0.4 metre. The owner was happy to remove small bushes to allow a section to be taken through this mound. No history of these mounds was known.  But in view of the hilltop position and because of the discovery, during the initial visit, of 8 sherds of Roman pottery just beyond the back hedge within a small area of the field(10 metres), it was decided that an excavation was worthwhile. 

Two pits were dug and the garden searched for sherds on the surface.  The mound yielded modern pottery and some worked flint and below ground level the majority of the finds were Roman.  Further sherds of Late Iron Age and Roman pottery (Northants grog-tempered ware, black burnished, colour coat, Samian, whiteware and greyware) were randomly picked up in the garden area and along the perimeter of the adjacent field. Around the tree roots of a fallen tree further Roman and prehistoric finds were made and 1 sherd of Anglo Saxon (possibly a pedestral footring from a German pot).

CONCLUSION

There was a slight feeling of disappointment in the group as no clear indication of habitation particularly from the Roman period, such as tessera, had been found but the pottery finds from this excavation and those dug up by the owners during gardening over the years indicate that this was an area where people were living throughout the Roman period and possibly before as the hilltop site is very similar to others in the area where late Iron Age people stayed on and developed Roman style living during the Roman Occupation. From the end of the garden it is possible to see the site at the Ridgeway where we excavated Roman and late Iron Age material in 2004 and also further hilltop sites in Northamptonshire where Late Iron Age and Roman pottery has been found.

It must be concluded that the mound excavated produced no evidence to suggest if was anything other than a recent garden feature.

A survey was carried out in 2012 in the adjacent field prior to development.  Group members were able to participate in the excavation.  The full report is awaited from Northants Archaeology (November 2012).  Briefly they believe that the site began in the late 1st century AD and continued to the 3rd century. Activity moved east on the site in the 4th century when the western ditch was recut.  There were two male burials found in this area including one executed man.