Archaeology suggests that a Northampton settlement began as early as 4000 B.C. where evidence has been found in the Briar Hill area. This manifests itself as a circular earthwork in which the inhabitants would gather socially and/or religiously. Circa 2000 BC Bronze age settlements are in evidence with pottery and light weapons being found scattered in various areas of the county in the form of arrowheads and axes. The people would largely have lived in ’roundhouses’ made of earth and timber.
Quite sizable farm settlements from the 1000 BC also appear throughout the southern valley areas of the county.
During the Iron Age at around 400 BC there is also evidence of a fortification at Hunsbury which consisted of a mound of defensible earth whose shape can still be made out to this day. It is thought that this settlement was used until around 20AD with pots and tools being found during this time period. Other, smaller hill forts may also have existed at Rainsborough, Badby, Thenford, Borough Hill, Castle Dykes, Guilsborough, and Irthlingborough.
Most people of the Iron Age were farmers, merchants, or craftspeople living in tribal communities although there seems to have been a need to protect themselves with these hill forts. This may have been during times of war but more likely on a daily basis to protect themselves and their livestock from predators such as boar and wolves.
Northamptonshire was heavily wooded and would have been a rich farmland. The tribes would live near natural resources such as atop hills for protection, but also near rivers and woods for growing food, raising livestock and hunting.
The hill forts themselves probably consisted of a small group of houses which were a stone, circular wall about 4 feet high with a thatched pointed roof. These houses were surrounded by a wooden palisade situated on top of a steep bank. In some cases a ditch may be dug at the bottom of the bank.
Northamptonshire is a county where we have held many detecting events and the finds have been plentiful, including gold and silver staters, Bronze Age hack gold and a abundance of other historic coins and items making this county a great place to detect.
For more history on Northamptonshire please visit http://www.northamptonshire-history.org.uk/?cat=15