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Looking north to the battlefield monument, with the former moor in the distance beyond.
 
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Battle of Marston Moor
2nd July 1644

The battle of Marston Moor, which took place in the evening of the 2nd July, is believed to have been the largest battle ever fought on English soil. Despite the Royalists having 10,000 fewer troops than the Parliamentarians, the outcome was by no means a foregone conclusion. But, after initial success on the left and in the centre, Rupert was defeated in dramatic fashion. In just a couple of hours on Marston Moor the the fate of York and control of the North was decided, the royalist Northern army was effectively destroyed, and Rupert and the royalist cavalry lost their reputation as an invincible force. But perhaps most important in the long term, the victory was above all that of the Eastern Association forces under Oliver Cromwell, making his name as great commander and showing how a well equipped, trained and committed parliamentarian army could win the war.

The open fields and moorland are now fully enclosed but they remain agricultural. The villages of Long Marston and Tockwith have expanded a little but have had only minimal impact on the battlefield. Marston is thus one of the better preserved if our major battlefields. It is also relatively well understood as a battle and the action has been fairly securely located within the landscape.

The road between the two villages road runs across the centre of the battlefield, as it did in 1644, allowing access to the visitor. Views from along this road allow an appreciation of the landscape. A monument, together with several interpretation panels, is also situated half way along this road, adjacent to a lay-by for several cars. There is also a lane which runs north from one side of the monument, which is regularly used by visitors to gain access down to the former moor edge, where the initial infantry engagement took place, and out across the flat expanse of former moorland. Beside Marston village a minor road leads north along the eastern edge of the former moor, and this is almost certainly where Sir Thomas Fairfax made his right wing cavalry attack at the beginning of the battle. At the western side of the battlefield a footpath leads up across Bilton Bream, the site of the rabbit warren from where Cromwell's cavalry launched their decisive attack.  

KEY FACTS

Name: Battle of Marston Moor

Type: Battle
Campaign: Campaign for the North 1644

War period: The Civil Wars
Outcome: Parliamentarian victory
Country: England
County: Yorkshire West Riding
Place: Long Marston / Bilton / Tockwith / Wilstrop
Location: secure

Terrain: open field, moor, enclosures
Date: 2nd July 1644
Start: 7pm
Duration: approximately 2 hours

Armies: Royalist under Prince Rupert; Parliamentarian under Earl of Leven
Numbers: Royalist: 18,000; Parliamentarian: 28,000

Losses: Royalist: circa 4,000 killed, circa 1,500 captured; Parliamentarian:

Grid Reference: SE491522 (449184,452298)
OS Landranger map: 105
OS Explorer map: 289 / 290

 

 

English Heritage Battlefields Register report CLICK HERE

Marston Moor pages compiled by G Foard and T Partida, May 2005.

 

   
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