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Part Of Medieval Village Rediscovered Near Towcester

Author: Brian Giggins Published: 12th August 2012 17:52

Photograph of fields in Wood Burcote where medieval house platforms have been foundPhotograph of fields in Wood Burcote where medieval house platforms have been found

An earthwork survey undertaken by Northamptonshire Archaeology as part of the planning application for 210 new houses at Wood Burcote Court has revealed that Wood Burcote was a larger hamlet in medieval times than had previously been thought. In fields on the east side of Burcote Road,  opposite the ‘Birds’ Estate, the archaeologists found four low mounds that they think are the ‘house platforms’ where cottages used to stand. These cottages would have been the homes of farmers making a living from raising livestock, growing grain in the open fields and working in the adjacent woodlands.

The hamlet of Wood Burcote is first recorded in 1200 but probably originated in the 9th or 10th century. It was one of a dozen hamlets with a ‘cote’ (meaning house or cottage) name within 5 miles of Towcester. The first reference to the hamlet being ‘Wood Burcote’ was in 1274 and suggests that the hamlet was surrounded by parts of Whittlewood Forest at that time. With no church of their own the small population of the hamlet would have to walk to St Lawrence’s Church in Towcester to attend services. This is also where they would have to take the bodies of their dead for burial.

There is the strong possibility that these house platforms may not survive much longer. If planning consent for the Wood Burcote Scheme is granted then new housing developments will replace them. It is hoped that these medieval house platforms will be excavated and recorded before this happens.

 

Brian Giggins

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