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Time Line - Chronology of Bury Mount
DateEvent Related to Bury MountRef
pre-RomanA pre-Roman settlement ... typified by dark "Belgic" style pottery were identified during excavations near Bury Mount Soden 2007 p2, (A84)
RomanRoman remains dating from 1st to late 4th century AD were found under Bury Mount during the 2007 dig. However the suggestion that the area north of Bury Mount contained the disturbed remnants of defences belonging to the Roman town of Lactodorum was not confirmed.Soden 2007 p9, p18, p2 (A84; FC06)
c.910ffIt is documented that Towcester was fortified as a Saxon Burgh, but how and where is not known. The dating of pottery from under Bury Mount shows that it is too late to be the part of the Saxon Burgh town defences which were probably short-lived and built in 1014 by Edward the Elder against the Danes in 917 .Soden 2007 p3 (A84), p4, p12
1088William Rufus came to throne 
11thThe ditches were deliberately back-filled in late 11th century and a stone building was built. Shortly afterwards the motte was built burying the walls of the stone building. It seems probable that the wall is a fragment of a very late Saxon or early Norman stone building, possibly a manorial building, buried beneath the motte.Soden 2007 p1, p12, p13
1139-1152Anarchy period with Civil War between King Stephen and Empress Maud. Giggins 2006 p3
1392Owned by Reginald de Grey, Baron de Grey of Ruthin. Manor recorded. Within the castle was the manorial hall, aligned north-south. One chamber with a stone roof, the other thatched; detached kitchen; stable. Two great barns "at a distance". An ox house with stable and cart house under one roof, a dovecote, a sheepfold for 200 sheep. "Within the said manor is one moat, and within the moat is one mound tower". The mound tower could have been of stone.Soden 2007 p4, Giggins 2006 p8 (PRO)
1467-8The "motehyll" was described as being in decay, paying no rent, in the Valor roll of 1467-8.Soden 2007 p4 (NRO a; Woodfield92; S99)
15th c.There was a gate at the junction of Chantry Land and Moat Lane leading into the bailey.Giggins 2006 p2 (VCH)
1508Towcester Manor purchased by Sir Richard Empson. He may have constructed a new manor house in Park Street.Giggins 2006
1549,1551Records from 1549 and 1551 indicated that much of the site was a garden called Berrymonthyll and a close called Beryorchard.Soden 2007 p4, Giggins 2006 (NRO b)
1606A rental of the fields of Towcester. Bury Mount is not included, the rental being wholly concerned with the open fields around the town Giggins 2006 (NRO c)
1610It was described in 1610 as a garden "planted on every side with cherie trees". Soden 2007 p4
(1642-9) English Civil War . Towcester was garrisoned for the Royalists. Several attempts have been made to identify points at which the town was specifically fortified during the Civil War. This includes evidence from the former cinema site, Sponne school and the former filling station, currently Harley Davidson motors.Soden 2007 p3 (J83; A84; Woodfield92).
16xxLocal labour was conscripted by Prince Rupert to refortify Towcester for the Civil war. Prince Rupert's Oxford army was 10,000 strong at Towcester and in the surrounding area. Two guns were placed on Bury Mount.Giggins 2006 p6 (Baker), p10 (Lake)
1643From the diary of Sir John Luke published by Philip (1947) . He was a Parliamentarian collecting intelligence about the strength of the Royalist forces.Soden 2007 p4
 4 August 1643 Skirmish at Towcester began the activity around the town (Philip 1947, 136) 
 2 Nov 1643 "there are 10 000 horse and foote in about Toster, and seven pieces of ordnance and they intend to fortifie the towne, and to plante their ordnance upon Hunsbury Hill a mile from Northampton" (ibid 187-9)
 11 Nov 1643 Prince Rupert has 1000 cavalry as a guard at Toster. Stabling was poor and the conditions were very muddy, horses standing in mud up to their fetlocks.(ibid 191-3)
 14 Nov 1643 "as soon as they have finished works at Toster, they resolve to go north leaving a garrison"(ibid 195-7)
 19 Nov 1643 Two reports arrived "Toster is entrenched round but not fortified. There are 12 pieces of Ordnance" and "they have intrenched Toster round but have not yet finished their works"(ibid 195-7)
 5 Dec 1643 "they have intrenched Toster around, but have not as yet finished there works; there bee many labourers there working daily ... they are making a mount on the farther side of the towne to plant ordnance upon"(ibid 206)
 6 Dec 1643 "the town is intrenched round about"(ibid 207)
 18 Dec 1643 "Eight pieces of ordnance in Toster, six in the Markett Place and two planted upon on a hill towards Northampton. That the works are all made upp, but are stronger at the end towards London". Two similar reports(ibid 219)
post civil warTowcester town and manor passed through St.Hiliary; de Muchensi; de Valence; de Hastings; and de Grey familiesGiggins 2006 p7 (Baker 1822-34 )
c.1795That this was a Roman Station, may fairly be gathered from the Roman Coins, which have frequently been found here, and particularly upon Berrymount Hill. This mount, wh(i)ch seems to have been raised ag(ains)t a northern enemy, lies on the north-east side of Towcester, on the southern bank of the rivulet that encloses the town on the north. It is surrounded by a mote, w(hi)ch is supplied with water from the brook. It is composed of earth and gravel and is flat on the top. The diameter of it is about one hundred and two foot, and the height from ground about twenty-two foot. In 1712 in digging at the foot of it, was found a coin of Gratianus [Roman Emperor from AD 367-383] inscrib'd DN. GRATIANUS. PF. AUG. and on the reverse within a wreath MULTIS SISPS XX. On the north-west side of the town are the vestiges of a ditch and the ruins of a castle or tower [perhaps a Roman stone tower situated on the north-west corner of the town defences which is believed to still have been standing in the 18th century.] Meek 1795
1824"subterraneous arched passage fifteen yards in length" found according to Pigot's Directory, but this is unsubstantiated by archaeological evidence.Pigot 1824; Soden 2007
1849Bury-hill, a great tumulus at the N.E. side of the town, on the southern bank of the rivulet which incloses the town on the north, is supposed to be the site of the speculum or watch tower. This mount, which seems to have been raised against a northern enemy, is surrounded with a moat which is supplied with water from the brook, and now used as a mill dam. It is composed of earth and gravel, and flat at the top; its diameter is about 100 feet, and height about 24 feet. The top, which is of a circular form, has lately been planted with Scotch fir, by its noble owner, the Earl of Pomfret. The Roman coins found in digging here prove it to have been an appendage of a Roman station. In 1824, fragments of urns, Samian ware, and pottery were found on the hill, and coins have been disinterred on almost every occasion when the ground is opened for building or agricultural purposes. Mr. Deacon, of Towcester, has collected a series, including those of several of the most celebrated Roman emperors. The Saxons, it would appear, took advantage of this little fortress, and added the foss which surrounds it. From them it received its present title of Bury, or Borough, to which has since been added the double tautology of Berry Mount Hill.Whellan 1849
1848-55Rating map. "This has the best depiction of the surrounding watercourse of all the maps."Soden 2007 p3 (NRO f)
1886Trees on Bury Mount noted by the Northampton Mercury in 1886-7 when the Mount was said to be covered in domestic gardens NM, NRS
?20cWarehouse is "constructed astride the circuit of an old watercourse"Soden 2007 p2
1999"The mapped and documentary history of the castle ... has ...been set out by Courtney"(S99)
2005Regeneration of Bury Mount proposed. 
2006Tree felling starts to clear land for archaeology 
2007Archaeological dig by Iain Soden and Jim Brown of Northamptonshire Archaeology.Soden 2007
2009Trees totally removed. Earth moving reshapes Bury Mount with a shallow slope and a hard path to the top. 
2010Archaeological dig by Tim Upson-Smith and Anne Foard-Colby.Upson-Smith 2010
2010Official opening to the public of Bury Mount and the Water Meadows by HRH The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO on 12th April 2010. 
201111th May 2011. Camlin Lonsdale, Landscape Architects, win a top award for "Bury Mount and the Watermeadows" at the "Museums and Heritage Awards for Excellence 2011".[External link]
  1. A84 Audouy, M, 1984 Bury Mount in Woodfield 1992, 25-29 [Woodfield, C, 1992 The Defences of Towcester, Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Archaeology, 24, 13-66
  2. Baker Baker G. 1822-34 The History and Antiquities of County of Northamptonshire p312-7
  3. Blinkhorn, P, forthcoming "The pottery in Wessex Archaeology, Sewardsley Priory, Showsley Grounds, Northamptonshire: An archaeological evaluation and assessment of results", unpublished report 65307
  4. C99 Courtney in Shotliffe et al 1999, 11-17x
  5. FC06 Foard-Colby, A, 2006 Archaeological evaluation: 147 Watling Street, Towcester, Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Archaeology report 06/129
  6. Giggins 2006 "Bury Mount Castle, Towcester Northamptonshire." Discovering Towcester leaflet No 2 by Brian L. Giggins, Towcester and District Local History Society, 2006
  7. J92 Jackson, D, 1983 "Defences at the south, The Cinema" in Woodfield 1992, 29-33
  8. Luke 17c Journal of Sir Samuel Lake, Oxford Record Society, III (1952-3) pp207-209; Diary of Sir John Luke published by Philip (1947) .
  9. Meek 1795 Rev. Francis Meek's history of Towcester
  10. NM Northampton Mercury in 1886-7 NRO:
  11. NCC 2002, "Northamptonshire Extensive Urban Survey - Towcester" p29
  12. NRO a DL43/14/3;
  13. NRO b Fermor-Hesketh: MTD/B/28/8, MTD/D/28/13
  14. NRO c Fermor-Hesketh: Box A, bundle 1
  15. NRO d 2923 and 2967
  16. NRO e T7
  17. NRO f 4473
  18. NRS Pamphlet 1592, Answer to Question 96, p31
  19. Pigot 1824 Pigot & Co Directory of Northamptonshire 1824 p432
  20. PRO DL/43/14/3
  21. Soden 2007 "Excavation of a motte and bailey castle at Bury Mount, Towcester, Northamptonshire July-September 2007" by Jim Brown and Iain Soden, Report 07/193, Northamptonshire Archaeology
  22. S99 Shotliffe D, Steadman, S, and Courtney, P, 1999 Bury Mount, Towcester, Northamptonshire: Archaeological Management Survey, Bedfordshire County Archaeology Service p11-17
  23. Upson-Smith, Tim and Foard-Colby, Anne. "Archaeological evaluation at Moat Lane, Towcester, Northamptonshire 2006 and 2010" Northamptonshire Archaeology Report 10/82 May 2010.
  24. VCH Victoria County History, 1906, Northamptonshire Vol 2, p226-6
  25. Whellan W. 1849 History, gazetteer & Directory of Northamptonshire pp555-6
  26. Woodfield, C, 1992 The Defences of Towcester, Northamptonshire, Northamptonshire Archaeology, 24, 13-66
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