Outcome of the Survey
Edgehill Battlefield Survey – Results Summary
The following presents a short summary of the results of the battlefield survey.
Detailed work on the historical terrain at the time of battle based on a number of contemporary or near contemporary sources allowed the map which can be downloaded on the left to be generated. This shows that the land of Great and Little Kineton and of Radway remained largely under open field at the time of the battle, but that certainly by the mid-18th century and probably by the mid-17th century most of the surrounding areas in adjacent parishes abutting those open fields had already been enclosed in hedged fields and converted to pasture. Most of the open fields would have been under arable at the time of the battle as evidenced by the extensive ridge and furrow across this land, which dates from the medieval period.
A view of the distribution of artefacts in the central battle area recovered during the Edgehill survey can be found on the map which can be downloaded on the left. This includes a proposed deployment of the two armies based on the archaeological finds and the historical terrain. It also shows the areas where it was not possible to detect due to ground disturbance following the construction of the Kineton ammunition depot during the Second World War.
Over 1,000 bullets were found in the survey, including 497 from muskets, 295 from pistols, 155 from carbines, 34 slugs of carbine or pistol calibre and 127 balls fired as hail short from artillery. The systematic way in which the survey was undertaken should ensure that the intensity of these finds broadly reflected the intensity of the fighting in that area.
Musket bullets were distributed across most of the battlefield in small numbers, but gaps were apparent within areas of cavalry action. Where musket bullets were found on the south-east side of the battlefield, associated with the fragments of hedgerow there, or in the enclosures on the northern side they were judged to represent the driving out of parliamentarian dragoons and musketeers by the royalists. A high concentration of bullets immediately to the east of Little Kineton probably represented a firefight associated with the royalist sack of the parliamentarian baggage train. Musket bullets were more consistently and extensively spread across the centre of the battlefield, representing the main infantry action.
Pistol bullets were spread right across the battlefield. A low density linear concentration was discernible in the north-western part of the battlefield, probably associated with the royalist right wing pursuit of the parliamentarian cavalry. Other less distinct concentrations in the south-eastern part of the battlefield seem to be as a result of parliamentarian cavalry operations there during the battle.
Carbine bullets concentrated in the same areas as musket shot, suggesting that the cavalry troopers that carried these weapons favoured their use against unbroken infantry formations. A slight concentration were also found north-west of the main infantry action, perhaps reflecting carbine shots by the left wing of parliamentarian cavalry before they were broken by the royalist charge. Another limited concentration was along the hedgerows on the northern side of the battlefield, perhaps as a result of cavalry shooting at musketeers that had fled toward the cover of the enclosure there.
The hail shot was more difficult to interpret, largely due to the fragmentation of the core battlefield area resulting from the construction of the ammunition depot. Experimental firing of hail shot provides a good basis for estimating the location of the regimental artillery pieces that would have fired the hail shot and contemporary practice was to deploy these guns on either side of the an infantry battalion. The revised suggested deployment of forces shown on the finds distribution map reflects the interpretation of the hail shot finds and an assumption that the parliamentarian regimental guns, which would have been 3 pounder drakes, did not advance from their starting positions and that the royalist infantry brigades did not bring forward their light field artillery.
The main conclusion from the survey work was that the traditional interpretations of the deployment of opposing forces on the battlefield were incorrect. The historical terrain reconstruction and the bullet distribution recovered during the archaeological survey suggested that rather than the armies deploying in a north north-east to south south west orientation they instead deployed north north-west to south south-east.
For a more detailed discussion of the results of the survey see Glenn Foard, Battlefield Archaeology of the English Civil War, Oxford, 2012