Daventry has a rich history and evidence in the collection dates back to the area’s pre-history and geology. Finds in the collection from the ancient hill fort of Borough Hill and surrounds, including Neolithic flints, bronze age arrowheads, Roman coins and pottery and a large mosaic floor tile fragment, show that Daventry’s history began long before quill was put to vellum.
The Roman mosaic floor fragment (conserved in 2020) was unearthed during the discovery of the remains of a Roman building on Borough Hill, Daventry, in 1823 by archaeologist George Baker, however, the site was not fully excavated until 1852 by Beriah Botfield and his team who recorded the site. There is much controversy over what type of building the floor tile originated from however, it is believed to be from a Roman villa on Borough Hill. The Romans built temples on many captured hill forts such as Borough Hill and, it is perhaps less likely that a rich Roman would build a villa on a chilly north west facing hill top. Find out more through our Daventry Timeline.
Modern Daventry town was ‘designed for growth’ by planners in the 1960s with orderly road networks and more than our fair share of roundabouts; the town was marketed as an ‘overspill’ for Birmingham. But it was the Cluniac priory founded in 1108 that formed the basis of much of Daventry’s layout as a settlement evident today, you can still visit the site of the priory’s Fishponds, now a recreational space. Indeed from the 12th century, it was an important market town and from the 14th century it was a busy coaching centre. By 1850 there were upwards of 35 public houses and inns catering for the coaching industry, however the advent of the railway line in 1838 eventually led to the decline of this popularity.