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The Extent of Whittlewood Forest and the Impact of Disafforestation in the Later Middle Ages

This is a shortened version of the paper published in Northamptonshire Past and Present 56 (2003), pp. 22-34.

Medieval Northamptonshire was dominated by the king’s forests. At their height, during the late 12th and 13th centuries, the royal forests of Rockingham, Salcey and Whittlewood extended in an unbroken band from the River Welland in the north to the Great Ouse in the south, encompassing about half of the total area of Northamptonshire. This does not mean that about half of the county was covered by woodland, but that this was the area subject to forest law. Thus, not only heaths, parks and woods, but also many of Northamptonshire’s towns and villages, together with their fields of arable and pasture, fell within the jurisdiction of the king’s forest officials. This was a substantial tract of countryside. Across England as a whole during this period, no more than a third of the country’s land area lay within the boundaries of the royal forest. Northamptonshire was, therefore, affected more than most counties by the imposition of forest law.

The introduction of forest law was largely a Norman innovation, imposed soon after the Conquest, primarily in order to protect the king’s hunting. In addition, the fines levied by the justices of the forest rapidly ensured that the new laws also became a significant source of royal income. Fines for such offences as killing deer, clearing woodland, or keeping hounds in the forest were high. In Northamptonshire in 1176 a total of £122 1s. 8d. was collected from the forest eyre ordered by Henry II, out of a total sum levied from the county of £782 6s. 8d. More of this sum was paid in the following years. The forest eyres were particularly profitable, but throughout the reign of Henry II and those of his successors, money was regularly brought to the royal Exchequer by the sheriff and forest officials. This revenue-raising power was partly a result of the jurisdiction of the forest lying outside the normal rule of law, subject to the personal authority of the king, who in an age before parliamentary taxation was frequently dependent upon his ability to inflict heavy fines. As Richard Fitz Nigel wrote in the Dialogue of the Exchequer,

The whole organization of the forests … is outside the jurisdiction of the other courts, and solely dependent on the decision of the king. … The forest has its own laws, based, it is said, not on the Common Law of the realm, but on the arbitrary legislation of the king; so that what is done in accordance with forest law is not called ‘just’ without qualification, but ‘just, according to forest law’.

The arbitrary exercise of the king’s authority in his exploitation of the forest led to growing resentment, particularly among the aristocratic landowners whose freedom of action was curtailed by forest law. The restrictions imposed by the king prevented landowners from cutting down their own woods or clearing their own land for farming without approval from the forest officials. They were prohibited from hunting the beasts of the forest and were forbidden to allow their herds to wander unchecked. King John was particularly ruthless in the fines he exacted, ensuring that the baronial rebellion which culminated in the signing of Magna Carta included measures to limit the extent of the royal forest and investigate the ‘evil customs’ of the foresters. These clauses were considered so important that they were taken out of Magna Carta, extended, and enshrined in a separate document known as the Charter of the Forest in 1217.

King John not only exploited the royal forest by imposing fines for offences against forest law, such as the three marks (£2) owed by William de Munchensi in 1208 for assarting three acres of land in Towcester. He was also prepared to license the disafforestion of substantial tracts of land, including whole counties, such as Cornwall, for large, one-off payments of cash. One of the aims of this paper is to assess the extent and implications of this process of disafforestation. What practical difference did disafforestation make to the lives of those communities who escaped from the shadow of forest law? The focus of the study is the royal forest of Whittlewood which, at its height, straddled the county boundary between Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire. The primary objective of the paper, however, is to establish the boundaries of Whittlewood Forest in the 13th century, a period during which they were subject to often radical change.

The extent of Whittlewood Forest in the 12th and 13th centuries

Whittlewood does not enter the surviving written records until the early 12th century. In a writ of about 1130, Henry I instructed Richard Basset, Aubrey de Vere, Hugh de Kaynes and all his foresters of Whittlewood to allow the monks of Luffield Priory to have their easements in the forest as in times past. This charter usefully reveals that more than a single forest official was in charge of Whittlewood during the reign of Henry I. It may be envisaged, therefore, that the forest was already divided into a number of constituent parts – later known as bailiwicks – which were managed by local landowners, such as Hugh of Stratford, the forester in fee of the bailiwick of Wakefield, who died in 1278. Hugh traced his ancestry back to Broneman, a forester of Henry II’s reign, to whom the king granted the keepership of Whittlewood Forest together with land in Puxley. Other bailiwicks, of Buckingham, Hazelborough, and Silverstone, were named during the 13th century. The grant to Luffield Priory probably allowed the monks to cut down trees and make assarts. But although such charters in favour of the church are relatively common, Henry I has a reputation for being niggardly in sharing his monopoly of hunting beasts of the forest, and it may be doubted whether the monks of Luffield enjoyed a completely free hand in the exploitation of their lands.

It is unclear whether Whittlewood was already a royal hunting-ground before the Norman Conquest, but it was certainly named by the Anglo-Saxons. Both the wood and one of its core settlements, Whittlebury, appear to take their name from the same person, probably Witela, a diminutive of Witta, who may have been a Saxon nobleman. Domesday Book makes no direct reference to the forest of Whittlewood. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Whittlewood area was endowed with very considerable tracts of woodland in 1086. The important royal manor of Greens Norton, for example, contained woodland measuring four leagues long and three leagues wide. This was equivalent to about 12,096 acres, according to the method of calculation adopted by Oliver Rackham, and almost certainly extended into the heavily wooded parishes of Paulerspury, Silverstone and Whittlebury. Thus, there was still a Norton wood in both Paulerspury and Whittlebury in the later Middle Ages. Other parishes which lay within the boundaries of the forest, such as Passenham, Potterspury, Towcester and Wicken, also contained substantial quantities of woodland in 1086.

In 1184 the king’s forests reached their fullest extent as a result of Henry II’s Assize of Woodstock. In the South Midlands Henry decreed that the royal forests should run in a continuous line from Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire through Buckinghamshire to Oxfordshire. These were the forests of Huntingdon, Rockingham, Salcey, Whittlewood, Bernwood and Shotover. Although the forests kept their own names and accounts, they were placed as one administrative unit in the care of the ‘Warden of the King’s forests between Oxford and Stamford Bridges’. These forests were largely unaffected by the disafforestations made by Richard I and John, and the communities within them suffered from John’s increasingly rigorous imposition of forest law.

In order for the forest of Whittlewood to lie adjacent to the forest of Bernwood, a considerable area of land to the south of Whittlewood and to the north of Bernwood had to be afforested. An undated perambulation claimed that Henry II extended Bernwood as far as the River Great Ouse, that is, to the stretch which flows between Buckingham and Brackley. By implication, this became the southernmost boundary of Whittlewood Forest, and the surviving documentary evidence appears to confirm that this was indeed the case. The forest eyre of 1255 reveals a number of vills in north Buckinghamshire being ordered to conduct inquiries into breaches of forest law that had occurred within Whittlewood. These included places such as Shalstone, Radclive, Chackmore and Maids Moreton, which lay close to the Great Ouse and thus may have bordered upon the northerly reaches of Bernwood.

The 1255 forest eyre was the last to be conducted within the Buckinghamshire portion of Whittlewood Forest of which we have record. It is not certain when the parishes summoned at that time began to be disafforested but it is likely to have been during the reign of Edward I. An examination of forest perambulations, probably in 1316, led to the compilation of a list of settlements which had once lain within Whittlewood but which no longer did so: Buckingham, Maids Moreton, Lillingstone Dayrell, Leckhampstead, Akeley, Dadford, Lamport, Chackmore, Radclive, Water Stratford, Shalstone, Westbury, Biddlesden and Luffield. A number of private woods held by individual landowners were also disafforested. Despite the efforts of Edward I and his son to prevent this large-scale disafforestation, by 1300 at the latest Whittlewood was effectively confined to Northamptonshire.

According to the jurors of Buckinghamshire, recorded at the time of the perambulation of the forest in 1300, it was only during the reign of Henry II that Whittlewood was extended into the county. Before 1154 north Buckinghamshire had been free of forest law. There is little reason for us to doubt this statement. Certainly no unequivocal evidence survives to suggest that under the Norman kings Whittlewood encompassed the settlements, woods and fields of north Buckinghamshire, and Henry II is known to have extended the boundaries of the royal forest in many other parts of England. Thus, it was probably only for a little over a century that the parishes of Buckinghamshire were subject to the forest officials who took charge of the bailiwicks of Whittlewood.

It was not only in Buckinghamshire but also in Northamptonshire that particular vills and woods were placed outside the boundaries of Whittlewood Forest during the last years of the 13th century. The same early 14th-century examination of forest perambulations listed the following places in the county which were no longer part of the forest: the vill of Brackley with the wood of Spitelwode, the wood of the prior of Luffield called Hynewode, the wood of Alan la Zouche, the wood of Mariwode, the woods of Hemwode and Langenho, the wood of Robert de Waucy, the wood of Buthenho, the wood of Thomas Wale with the vill of Wappenham, the wood of Okesstobbes with the fields, the wood of Hugh de Doddingseles, the wood of Hugh de Ver de Bokynhull, the wood of Monekeswode, the wood of Dokwellehay with the vills of Towcester, Abthorpe, Foscote, Wood Burcote and Caldecote, the vills of Greens Norton, Wyk, Caswell, Duncote and Field Burcote with the wood of Kyngthorn, the wood of Laurence de Pavely with the vills of Paulerspury, Plumpton and Heathencote, the wood of John de Gorges, the wood of Robert Lupi, the wood of Hugh le Despenser with the vills of Alderton and Grafton Regis and with the wood of the abbey of Grestain, the vills of Slapton and Bradden, the wood of John de Wahull and the wood of Henry Gobion, the wood of Matilda de Beauchamp with the vills of Potterspury and Yardley Gobion, the wood of Henry Spigurnel with the vill of Cosgrove, the wood of Adam de Forho, the wood of the prior of Snelshall, the wood of Adam Bernyl, the wood of Elias de Tingewick, the wood of John son of John, the wood of Amice wife of John Lupi, the wood of John bailiff of Grafton Regis, and the wood of John Mers.

Although this document reveals that the Northamptonshire boundaries of Whittlewood Forest were contracting in the later 13th century, there remained an unbroken tract of countryside across which the king was able to hunt, from the parish of Syresham in the west to Passenham and Potterspury in the east. The core of the forest around Wakefield Lawn and the royal hunting lodge at Silverstone thus remained intact, even if woods close by were placed outside the jurisdiction of the king’s forest officials.

These lists of parishes and private woods, in both Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, which at the beginning of the reign of Edward I had almost certainly formed part of Whittlewood Forest, allow the reconstruction of the forest at its greatest extent, in the late 12th and 13th centuries. There can be little doubt that Edward, like his grandfather King John, was willing to reduce dramatically the size of the royal forests in return for financial assistance from the community of the realm. In 1286 two very different perambulations of the Northamptonshire portion of Whittlewood Forest were conducted. The first of these two perambulations shows the forest extending westwards to encompass parishes such as Brackley, Sulgrave and Blakesley. In the second, the western boundary of the forest passes through such parishes as Whitfield, Syresham, Wappenham and Greens Norton, thereby reducing Whittlewood in size by almost one-half. No explanation is provided in the document for the differences between these two versions.

Edward I made no general concessions with regard to the royal forests in 1286. Indeed, he was still at this time endeavouring to ensure that as much land as possible remained subject to forest law. However, throughout his reign he was faced by opposition to the administration of the forest officials, and the perambulation of several forests conducted between 1277 and 1279 demanded extensive disafforestation. Thus, it seems plausible to suggest that these two perambulations, recorded in a roll of forest pleas and regards in 1286, represent an attempt by the county community to seek a reduction in the size of Whittlewood Forest from its widest extent, perhaps in readiness for the eyre of that year. If this was the aim, however, it appears not to have worked. At the forest eyre of 1286 the vill of Falcutt near Helmdon was amerced for forest offences, and in both 1255 and 1286 the inhabitants of places such as Astwell, Bradden, Slapton, Wappenham and Whitfield were required to conduct inquiries into breaches of forest law that had occurred within the forest. It appears that there was no immediate reduction in the size of the forest as a result of the perambulations conducted in Northamptonshire in 1286.

However, the years of crisis for Edward I at the end of the 13th century forced the king to grant significant concessions relating to the boundaries of the royal forest. As part of a package of measures granted in October 1297 in return for a new tax of a ninth, it was agreed that perambulations of the forest would be conducted. However, a further grant of a fifteenth had to be extracted from parliament in January 1301 before the king agreed to put the findings of the perambulations into effect. Three perambulations of Whittlewood were made in 1299 and 1300, one for each county in which the forest lay: Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. The jurors of Buckinghamshire concluded that when Henry II was crowned no part of Whittlewood lay within the county. Similarly, in Oxfordshire, ‘the vill of Boycott [now part of Stowe parish in Buckinghamshire] with its fields, woods and appurtenances in the possession of the abbot of Biddlesden [was] disafforested’. Likewise, Lillingstone Lovell (now part of Buckinghamshire), ‘with its fields, woods and other appurtenances is outside the forest’. Indeed, the only part of Whittlewood to remain outside Northamptonshire was a detached part of the parish of Lillingstone Dayrell, now part of Lillingstone Lovell, which lies adjacent to the present-day Northamptonshire parishes of Deanshanger and Whittlebury.

The Northamptonshire perambulation further reduced the size of the forest, compared with the shorter of the two perambulations of 1286, and became the definitive version of the boundaries of Whittlewood for the remainder of the Middle Ages, surviving in multiple copies today. The parish of Wicken, for example, was disafforested at this time. Although the perambulation cannot be followed precisely on modern maps, it is clear that the boundaries either encompassed or passed through the present-day civil parishes of Old Stratford, Deanshanger, Whittlebury, Silverstone, Syresham, Whitfield, Wappenham, Abthorpe, Towcester, Paulerspury, Yardley Gobion and Potterspury. It has been estimated that henceforth Whittlewood Forest comprised some 20,480 acres or about 32 square miles. The core of the forest consisted of the king’s demesne woods of Handley, Hazelborough, Puxley, Shrob, Silverstone, and Wakefield, and the woods belonging to the lord of Greens Norton. These were later reorganized into the walks of Handley, Hanger, Hazelborough, Sholebroke, Shrob, and Wakefield, and were divided into coppices, some of which also date back to the 13th and 14th centuries.

The impact of the disafforestation of Whittlewood in the 13th and 14th centuries

What practical difference did the contraction of Whittlewood Forest in the late 13th century make to those people who lived there? The clamour for disafforestation came principally from landowners whose freedom of action, to hunt deer and to clear, enclose and farm their land, was curtailed by the officials who imposed forest law. These were the people with the power to force Edward I to grant concessions in return for the collection of a tax. It is more difficult to assess the attitude of the ordinary inhabitants of the area, whose lives were restricted as much by their local lords as they were by the king’s forest officials. Indeed, it may be doubted whether the residents of a village such as Silverstone, who might poach occasionally to supplement their diet, or who illegally felled timber or pastured their animals, made much of a distinction between the king’s woods and those in private hands. The penalty, if caught, was often the same, as a comparison of the fines imposed by the prior of Luffield’s woodward with those of the king’s justices in eyre reveals.

For the landowners of the Whittlewood area, the restrictions of forest law often resulted in delay and expense before their land could be put to use. It has already been mentioned that the earliest reference to Whittlewood Forest occurs in a charter granting the monks of Luffield Priory their easements in the forest as in times past. It is clear, however, that this did not provide the community with a completely free hand in the exploitation of their lands. A good example of the restrictions which continued to apply is demonstrated by the case of the priory’s wood of Hynewode, which was granted to the priory by Henry de Hinton in 1240 or shortly thereafter. In 1248 an inquest was held at Hynewode, then still part of Whittlewood Forest, before William de Northampton, bailiff of the forest, by twelve ‘free and law-worthy men’ of the villages of Silverstone, Syresham, Towcester and Whittlebury, who judged that the prior of Luffield would cause no damage to the king or the forest if he ploughed up an area of undergrowth which lay between the priory’s arable land and the dense woodland of the forest.

The significance of this case is that the prior of Luffield was required to go to considerable trouble and expense, arranging for an inquest to be held, merely in order to plough up a little over one acre of land, because it lay within the jurisdiction of the forest. No doubt the prior found himself obliged to pay a fine to the king for this privilege and perhaps too a douceur to the bailiff of the forest, although no record of this survives. The inconvenience of having to seek the permission of the forest officials every time a piece of scrubby waste was to be incorporated into the arable, which must have occurred regularly in an era of high levels of population and the widespread colonization of previously unploughed land, surely encouraged many landowners to seek the disafforestation of their woods, fields and farms. Another such inquest was held in 1233 before John Marshal, lord of Greens Norton, was allowed to assart three acres in Norton wood. In 1306 the abbot of Biddlesden was permitted to enclose and cultivate 20 acres of waste in Syresham only after an inquest reported that ‘there is not a frequent repair of the deer there’.

Lords were also required to seek royal consent before they were allowed to cut down their own woods for sale. Selling timber and other woodland produce was often used as a way of raising money quickly, to pay off debts or to fund a military campaign. For landowners within the forest, this option was subject to the attentions of the king’s officials. However, permission might be granted, especially if the money so raised benefited the royal administration. Thus, in 1298 Edward I allowed Hugh de Vere to sell timber worth 100 marks (£66 13s. 4d.) from his woods of Bucknell and Dokwellehay, prior to his departure overseas on the king’s service.

One illustration of the changes brought about by disafforestation is provided by two extents of Potterspury manor, the first dated 1297 and the second dated 1301. In the first, on the death of Richard son of John, the manor’s woodland, worth 6s. 8d., was described as lying within the king’s forest of Whittlewood. In the second, on the death of Matilda de Beauchamp, no mention is made of the wood which appears to have been absorbed into the manor’s park. Significantly, Matilda enjoyed the right to hunt deer in the park which Richard almost certainly did not. Matilda’s wood was one of those disafforested at the end of the 13th century and she was thus freed from the restrictions relating to hunting imposed by forest law. Her successors continued to maintain the park and the deer during the 14th century.

The park of Potterspury was enclosed and the deer kept away from the manor’s many acres of arable land. Within the royal forest, the thrill of the chase meant that the king’s deer were not allowed to be obstructed by fences or hedges surrounding fields of corn. Thus, an earlier lord of Potterspury, in 1232, was allowed to enclose his arable with a ditch and hedge only on condition that it was low enough to enable the king’s deer to pass freely over it. The consequences for landowners could be very damaging. On the death of Henry Green in 1369, an inquest recorded the value of his manor of Heybarne, which straddled the county boundary between Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, lying partly in the detached portion of Lillingstone Dayrell parish and partly in Whittlebury parish. The part lying in Buckinghamshire was worth just 3s. 4d. a year ‘because it lies in the forest of Whittlewood and is destroyed by the king’s deer’. A similar excuse was used to explain the low valuation (6s. 8d.) of the part lying in Northamptonshire.

It was not only the king’s deer that could damage the value of a manor. The forest officials might also attempt to take advantage of their position. For example, in 1270 the king was informed that Roger de Wauton paid £1 9s. 3d. into the Exchequer each year for land in Akeley, a rent which had been extorted from him by Robert Passelewe during his term as justice of the forest. The king immediately released Roger from his obligation to pay. The exploitative tendencies of the king’s forest officials encouraged a number of landowners to secure exemptions from their jurisdiction. Thus, in 1267 Oseney Abbey was confirmed in its right to take estovers (wood for repairs) from its own woods ‘without view and livery and danger of the foresters, verderers or other bailiffs’. Similarly, in 1258 Luffield Priory secured the right to transport timber and firewood freely through Whittlewood Forest for five years, together with an order to the ‘foresters and others not to vex them contrary to this’.

The disafforestation of large parts of Whittlewood Forest at the end of the 13th century freed many landowners from the numerous restrictions imposed by forest law. Their ability to exploit their own lands undoubtedly became easier and was no longer subject to such close scrutiny. Occasionally inquests were ordered into the state of the forest, which investigated hindrances to the free movement of deer, but it is unclear whether any action could be taken to remove them. For example, in 1368 it was reported that two deer-leaps had been constructed in the earl of Warwick’s park at Potterspury, close to the forest, so that the king’s deer could enter the park but not escape, ‘to the detriment of the king’s forest’. The same inquest also named nine landowners within the forest who had enclosed assarts or crofts with hedges, thereby obstructing the passage both of the deer and the pursuing hunters.

For the historian, of course, the contraction of the forest and the administration that went with it means that often we do not know what changes landowners introduced because no record was made of them. Thus, it is only in areas which remained subject to the attentions of the forest officials that the clearance of woodland and the extension of the arable can still be traced in any detail. For example, at the forest regard of 1348, it was noted that John de Molyns, lord of one of the manors of Silverstone in 1337-8, wasted 42 acres of woodland there before granting the manor to the abbess of Burnham (Buckinghamshire), who wasted a further 60 acres of Silverstone wood. The timber (including 500 oaks) and other wood was probably sold, and part of the land was taken up by the prior of Luffield who enclosed it. In conclusion it might well be questioned whether the clearance of this wood would have occurred any sooner or been on a larger scale had Silverstone been placed outside the bounds of the forest. In other words, disafforestation may not have made much practical difference to the action landowners decided to take. It simply made their life a little easier.

Conclusion

This paper has sought to trace the growth of Whittlewood Forest in the 12th century and its contraction in the later 13th. This was a process occurring in many of the royal forests of England at this time. However, the evidence for Whittlewood is particularly full and the individual settlements and woods exempted from forest law can be named and, in some cases, located and mapped. Further work is required to trace the history of those woods for which good documentation survives, to determine how they were exploited following their release from the jurisdiction of the king’s forest officials.

It is clear that landowners were put to delay and expense in exploiting their lands as a result of forest law. They might also suffer damage to their crops from the deer and extortion from the officials appointed by the crown. However, it is more difficult to be certain that they were ever prevented from pursuing a particular course of action by the restrictions of forest law. Both lords and peasants hunted deer, felled timber, pastured their animals, and cleared, enclosed and farmed the woodland surrounding their settlements. Such activities may have increased following disafforestation, but the ability of the foresters to curb these practices during the period for which records survive seems not to have been entirely successful. Some surprise has been expressed that the aristocracy was for so long prepared to acquiesce in the imposition of forest law. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that in practice its impact was irritating but relatively limited.

Appendix 1. The ‘long’ perambulation of Whittlewood Forest, 1286

The boundaries of the forest began at the bridge of Thornton, and so by the river Ouse to the bridge of [Old] Stratford, and from the same bridge always by the same river to the river called Stiule [the Tove], and so up by the same river of Stiule to the bridge of Athilford, and from the same bridge up by the same river of Styule to the bridge of Kademan, and from the same bridge always by the same river to the bridge of North outside the vill of Towcester, and from the same bridge by the king’s highway which leads to Northampton through the middle of the vill of Tiffield to the place called Snakemore, and from Snakemore, as the ancient bounds are accustomed to be understood, by a certain greenway to the windmill of Dinscote, and from the same mill up by the way which leads to the vill of Cold Higham (Heyham), and from the same vill by the way which leads to the vill of Litchborough (Lycesbaruwe), and from the same vill by the way which leads to the vill of Maidford, and from the same vill always by the way which leads to the vill of Adstone (Atiston), and from the same vill by the way which leads to the bridge which is in a certain vill between the vills of Canons Ashby (Esseby) and Moreton Pinkney (Morton), and so from the same bridge up to a certain thorn called Smalthorn, and from the same place always by the highway which leads between the vills of Culworth and Sulgrave, and so by the same way to the vill of Middleton Cheney (Middelton), and from the same vill by the highway which leads to the vill of Marston St Lawrence (Marston), and from the same vill by the way which leads to the vill of Farthinghoe (Farningeho), and from the same vill by the way which leads to the vill of Hinton-in-the-Hedges (Hinton), and from the same vill by the king’s highway which leads to the bridge of Brackley, and from the same bridge always by the water to the mill which is at the head of the grove of Turweston (Torueston), and from the same mill always by the same water to the bridge of Turweston, and from the same bridge to the stream called Everisford, and so always between the two bailiwicks between the counties of Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire through the middle of the forest, and by the same boundaries which are between the counties of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire to the said bridge of Thornton.

Appendix 2. The ‘short’ perambulation of Whittlewood Forest, 1286

The boundaries of the forest began at the bridge of Thornton, and so by the water of the Ouse to the bridge of [Old] Stratford, and from the same bridge by the same river to the river called Stiule [the Tove], and so up by the river of Stiule to the bridge of Athilford, and from the same bridge by the same river to the bridge of Cademan, and so by the same river to the bridge of Nort outside the vill of Towcester, and from the same bridge by the king’s highway which leads to Northampton through the middle of the vill of Tiffield to the place called Snakemore, and from Snakemore by the king’s highway called Oxenfordwey between the vills of Duncote and Burcote, and so by the same way through the middle of the vill of Bradden, and from the same vill by the same way through the middle of the vill of Slapton, and from the same vill by the same way through the middle of one end of the vill of Wappenham to the windmill which is outside the same vill, and from the same mill by the same way to the place called Crowfield, and so by the same way between the park of Whistley (Wissele) and the vill of Westcote and so to the bridge called Huberdisbrigg, and from the same bridge by the same way through the middle of the vill of Brackley.

December 2003