There is, however, a danger that local evidence as to the site may disappear with time, for it is now War Department land, and enclosed. The inhabitants have been ejected, so that local tradition, place-names, sites of grave–pits, etc, may in the course of time be forgotten and lost. […] But it is to be hoped that some of the key points will one day be clearly marked before local tradition dies - as it seems for obvious reasons fated to do.
- Edgehill Today
- Narratives of Habit
- The 2009 New Interpretion
- The Website's Origins & Inspiration
- The old footpaths
- Website Technical Details (+ Advice)
- Accessibility (WAI)
With a desire to want to know 'what happened where', I was always frustrated with the limited detail within published deployment plans of the battle while the Edgehill battlefield itself — with its restricted access — seemed an enigmatic and mysterious place. With the arrival of the web and the use of Google mapping, along with a generous collection of large colour photographs, a clear and easily accessible guide is now possible for anyone to view and make sense of this famous battlefield. Although websites, as we now know them, weren't around in the early nineteen nineties, this website represents what I wish had existed when I first developed an interest in this evasive battlefield.
While this and any study of the battle draws upon previous works and primary sources, I'm pleased that this project also offers additional and new historic terrain research, debunks several influential myths or folklores with original research and provides several brand new logical inferences concerning the day's events and their relationship with the landscape seen today.
Some books have got it right and some have got things wrong, some specialise in selected areas while being vague in others and some people who think they know the battlefield might be surprised to learn they don't. By exploiting the benefits modern technologies can offer, I hope this free and educational resource can provide an efficient yet comprehensive, and accessible, appreciation of the battle and the battlefield it created.
With the completion of the first comprehensive and systematic archaeological survey of any 17th century british battlefield, combined with pre–enclosure maps, contemporary royalist deployment plans and more contemporary accounts of the day's events than just about any other early modern British battle, more is now known about this battlefield than perhaps any other in Britain.
It's also the first battle to boast its own dedicated website which utilises modern interactive mapping (with advanced support for mobile devices currently in development) and is believed to be the first in the world to do so. Heritage Lottery funding for a visitor information point and permanent Edgehill exhibition commemorating the battle at the battlefield, within the village of Radway, opened in 2015.
While Edgehill does not lay claim to a dramatic conclusion with the death of a king or the transfer of power, it is however the largest battlefield on English Heritage's registered battlefield list and when including the military events from all three days, it is also the longest of the Civil War. Today Edgehill now has the additional notoriety of a recent dramatic reinterpretation of where the armies' may have actually deployed with frontlines standing at 90 degrees to where they had once been believed - for decades and even centuries - to have stood. (Inadvertently, this website has also served to inform and introduce to a larger audience, as well as professional academics, the existence and detail of Glenn Foard's, seemingly little known, landmark 2009 deployment interpretation). Edgehill has continued the tradition of being first, as it was the first pitched battle of the English Civil War and has now become a test case for modern battlefield archaeological surveys being the first early modern battle to extensively reveal its secrets through such progressive methodologies.
This website project introduces elements of research and reasoning which determine knowledge of the battlefield and doesn't necessarily only relate — with apparent orthodoxy — an established "factual" history. It should also become quickly obvious that the content is specialised and tightly focused upon the battlefield and battle, and not the wider context or general Edgehill campaign. This website is pleased to present the first or most comprehensive guide to the Edgehill battlefield. While Edgehill is allegedly the most haunted battlefield in Europe (and features the only British phantoms to be officially recognised by the Public Record Office) there's nothing dead about its contemporary status as one of the most important and one of the best battlefield sites in Britain.
For me, a unique facet concerning this battle, when compared with others of the war, is its momentous status of being the first. It was here that men who had never seen battle and who had marched and travelled further from their homes than anyone they had ever known found themselves standing in a field somewhere in the English midlands. The dawning realisation that this was it and that it was actually going to happen must have run cold through many a man. News of their endeavours that afternoon would spread the length and breadth of the country. It was now real; it was war.
Thanks to the efforts, promotion, and generosity of others, and even in part to safety improvements in modern weaponry, access to parts of this enigmatic battlefield are better today than they have been for decades.
The English Civil War remains the most popular and studied of historic periods with Edgehill maintaining its 'premier position' as one of a handful of the most significant battles. It typically enjoys inclusion in general books about the time and has benefited from dedicated publications. (A modern and engaging visitor's tool is currently in development for modern mobile devices).
For the first time, the vaguest of vague battlefield guided walks, the most inaccurate of sightseeing guides and the most preposterous itineraries for travelling around the general site can be replaced with walks shared by those who fought there, meaningful views of key areas of deployment and action and access to terrain which witnessed the thrill and the tragedy of battle. Today, relevant swells in the land, small hills, artillery routes, hedgerows, campsites and specific deployment locations can reliably as is possible be pointed out across the Edgehill landscape.
Narratives of Habit
Today, there are two Edgehill battlefields. There is the truth, as told and recorded by those who fought in the battle and an imagined and invented alternative, largely recorded by antiquarian writings from the 1800s. Bizarrely, several features of the second version have found immortality amidst credible 20th century studies of the battlefield and regularly continue to live on undaunted well into the 21st century in studies and publications. Frustratingly, too many military historians writing about Britain's historic battlefields do not write about the actual history but unwittingly simply preserve a Victorian interpretation of the history. This web project and investigation into the battlefield is aware of these problems and differentiates between the two. For several past authors, tracing and exposing much of the misdirection created by supposed local folklore should have been an additional responsibility, would have revealed a more accurate picture of the battlefield and progressed our understanding of the battle forward by several decades. Not everyone could have been privy to the increasing archaeological knowledge base from the battle (or which would come to light in the future), or evidently could be inclined to reconstruct an understanding of the historic landscape, but everyone could have established which elements of fancy were - rather clearly - whimsical nonsense and should not have bore influence upon interpretations.
Accurate calculations would reveal how unrealistic it is to have expected the royalist army to deploy and stretch the entire distance from Knowle End to Sunrising Hill for example and how fabricated and misdirected the lone claims concerning Radway Tower were. Basic research explodes myths concerning barns and cottages, rallying locations for Prince Rupert and several other lores, which rely upon one another.
The best book (or chapter) about the Battle of Edgehill remains to be written. Unfortunately too much of what is already written about the battle has been, and still is, largely based upon the foundations of previous authors. Errors and assumptions made by antiquarian efforts, bizarre or simply rather silly local traditions, and tidy elements of freshly coined narratives, like Chinese Whispers, live on in modern publications and our supposed collective knowledge of the battle. Reading several secondary sources one becomes aware of prevailing fashions within narratives, such as the spate of late 20th century books relating the civil war which uniformly begin to declare that both armies simply stayed on the field overnight following the Sunday battle.
Modern interpretations of the battlefield are also influenced by only a traditional understanding of the terrain, which varies from the reality. At the start of this century authors continued to assume that Parliament's famed little round hill ran parallel to Edgehill itself, but is actually much more detailed than this; this being a simple fact which could have been resolved by more 'on the ground' effort. One respected authority even goes so far as to reposition the entire battle someway to the west based upon Parliament's left cavalry being associated with moving uphill and it being assumed that there is only one feature which could be interpreted as an uphill gradient. In fact an alternative obvious feature which would fit the action of moving uphill or marching uphill is actually quite apparent from the Kineton open field perspective and provides a perfectly straightforward opportunity for accurately positioning the core action?
When one walks the fields of the true battlefield, empathies for certain perspectives become effortlessly obvious, such as Rupert's position amidst — or on route to — the Parliamentarian baggage train, does not afford views of the central battlefield. While Rupert himself managed to prevent three troops of horse from disappearing all together in preparation for a return to the battlefield, the criticism traditionally aimed at Rupert's lack of discipline as shown by his cavalry at Edgehill never considers the notion that such cavalry discipline hadn't yet been 'invented' and wouldn't be until later in the war. He wrote of being disappointed with Sir John Byron for allowing his reserve to join the cross country pursuit but it could be argued that Rupert's men did nothing extraordinary for their time and highlighting what would have been a better tactic needn't necessarily become confused with critiquing his cavalry's behaviour or performance?
Since ancient times, pillaging the enemy's baggage was the assumed incentive of many armies and especially the unpaid variety. Questioning the traditional scorn levelled at the Royalist Horse — from a post new model army perspective — can perhaps offer an insight into Rupert's assumptions, while we could also wonder why he took so long to return to the battlefield. We might underestimate his real surprise to learn that the battle had continued to be contested through the afternoon and perhaps help us contemplate the size of the Royalist's confidence of a quick victory? Similar considerations are sometimes categorised as 'Rupert apologists', but a more empathetic interpretation of the time might be more enlightening coupled with the realisation that these events inspired the later cavalry innovations. Many secondary sources simply follow the traditional and neat narrative established by 19th century accounts and perhaps Clarendon's distain. Of the thousands of Royalist cavalry it remains unknown just how many did help themselves to Parliament's baggage train, but inevitably they have captured all the 'headlines'. Ironically, in many ways Rupert's trained troops in fact demonstrated considerable discipline in executing their tactics which were at the cutting edge of cavalry theory of that time. Not being a 'Rupert apologist' is the simplistic perspective and effortless narrative.
Edgehill has been a battlefield modern scholars and authors have debated and disputed and ways to better understand it have been drawn from many sources. For example, a modern author may be happy to place a clinical significance upon a single topographical detail mentioned in a contemporary account — which represents only one moment of one individual's battle — and to then argue a significant hypothesis, which in turn is based upon the logic of casual conjectures made by others, and potentially missing a crucial clue. For a battlefield which — until recently — had never been satisfactorily secured and with the locations of starting lines obviously open to question, it seems ironic for scholars to base hypothesis within mainstream guesswork to argue new theories or "facts".
For decades a nonexistent knowledge of the contemporary terrain and landscape was practically an irrelevant "detail" and sections of popular narrative filled the battle's story (or "history") with questionable supposition and misdirected second guesses to explain the reasoning behind much of the day's events. Some modern and major studies of the battle would also lament the lack of helpful historic maps, but make no reference to the well-known and effortlessly accessible Radway 18th century enclosure map which featured the exact details such author's had hankered after? Ironically the self-imposed and promoted discipline of reassessing the battle by reinterpreting the battlefield's landscape and topography, by one project, only seemed to subsequently misinterpret it and arguably failed to recognise serious issues this exercise should have highlighted when marrying it (and some sites of local tradition) with contemporary accounts? While seemingly justifying the project by claiming a reassessment partly based upon reading the battlefield topography, the project then seemingly moves forward perfectly self aware that its knowledge of the historic terrain is weak (and arguably inadequate); which is something that doesn't seem to hinder its confidence concerning its fundamental objective and yet its research remained firmly focused upon the familiar. (Bewilderingly another recent occupational historian even doubts the usefulness of historic enclosure maps?).
The very familiar account of the Royalists originally deploying across or along the escarpment, only to then later realise that the rebels wouldn't attack them uphill and which eventually encouraged them to redeploy on the plain below, is not only utterly unfounded but also presents an initial floored strategy which arguably would have been as blatantly obvious to the pro–active generals of the Royalist army as it is to us today.
Not a single contemporary or near contemporary account has suggested that the royalists formally deployed on the hill (on the Sunday). This continuously recycled image has always represented pure assumption and invention. Conversely, the official royalist account relates how the army's early arrivals waited until the afternoon for all of its army to arrive and then descended the hill, while James II practically spells out that as soon as all the king's army had arrived the royalist forces then headed down to the plain.
It seems neither side wished to start the battle which would precipitate the war, and there was a lengthy stand-off. As the Roundheads could not be tempted to attack the favourable Royalist positions on the hill itself, the King's men moved off the hill and moved down onto the forward slope looking from Radway towards the village of Kineton, in the hope that the Roundheads would strike the first blow.
None the less this neat piece of storyline continues to be a popular piece of Edgehill narrative (or myth), presumably recycled from one interpretation to the next, and possibly has confused origins born from the Royalist's initial debate on whether to continue to London - not descending the hill - or to fight, but actually appears to be little more than romantic assumption invented by local aural tradition in the nineteenth century, which subsequently went on to influence other traditions. Such insights, born largely from antiquarian writings, subtly ignore the realities of intelligent experienced military men of the early modern era and overlook the documented evidence of the king's men, with a superior army, eager to deliver a knockout blow. Alternative texts on the battle typically explain Essex's stationary positions with the plausible reality of the Parliamentary General having everything to gain by waiting for his additional forces which were on route to the battlefield; and not a — completely unsurprising — reluctance to attack the impossibly steep hillside. Furthermore, this madness would have contravened every piece of military advice, practice, procedure, and tactics clearly instructed and followed at this time, making the notion that the Royalist's could have possibly contemplated deploying on Edgehill - not in conventional landscape and behind Radway village - and to expect an attack even more nonsensical than it already is.
He [Essex] had, not only from the political but from the tactical point of view, the greatest reluctance to strike the first blow. If the Cavaliers declined to attack him he could hope to be stronger next day by three regiments of foot […]
In relatively modern times, the numerous best efforts of several ex–military men to heavily interpret the battle through their own professional perspectives and rationale would, for example, regularly raise the question of why Essex deployed so defensively. But the fact that Essex didn't have permission to attack the king is a solution seemingly irrelevant to many military assessments? As well as waiting for additional troops, might the reasoning behind Essex's defensive deployments be partly answered by the mundane? And besides, as well as winning the PR battle, it just wasn't the done thing to enthusiastically attack God's representative on earth? Unfortunately, reality can be a modest affair. There should really be no confusion or unnecessary over complication concerning what happened that morning. The simple facts are that Parliament deployed on seeing the Royalist cavalry on the hill - quickly seizing the defensive advantage by claiming the prime positions amidst the open expanse of land in the vale between them - while the Royalists only descended once their full army had arrived. Nothing could in fact be simpler and omits the need to invent alternative and imagined narratives (or myth and bunkum).
Logically Essex also deployed facing the Royalist's Knowle End position and clear route to the battlefield - from above Bullet Hill - face-on (and not at a strange oblique angle, as often imagined, facing the length and width of the escarpment?).
With the landscape of the traditional battlefield(s) quietly accommodating a slightly uncomfortable fit with topographical details mentioned by the battle's combatants and an emerging picture of the historic terrain, Edgehill for decades was arguably a battlefield ready for a fundamental reassessment.* When ignoring supposed local tradition and reappraising the contemporary accounts, without previous influence, then something as simple as assessing the Radway 18th century pre–enclosure map, or a basic but broad metal detecting survey (both available at Warwickshire Archaeology, since the 1970s), might have been sufficient to raise adequate concerns regarding the increasingly familiar interpretations of who and what happened where.
For years I harboured nagging reservations concerning elements of different interpretations of the battlefield, was not convinced by how some topographical details contained within contemporary accounts had been interpreted, and I effortlessly happened upon details and inferences which seriously questioned several influential local traditions.* The confident preaching's of published authors and academics remained persuasive but many conjectures had been established by military men happily plonking down regiments across the modern field-scape with seemingly casual aplomb, while the musings and hypothesis of a local Victorian were often used as the foundation for scholarly orthodoxy. Regrettably, while I maintained a resigned respect for the perceived Edgehill battlefield wisdoms, this was partly due to my own inability to offer myself any significant or improved alternatives. I could foolishly confess that when I walked the battlefield and envisaged the suggested deployment plans and actions within the landscape, then quite simply it just never felt quite right and was consistently hard to imagine? I had seriously considered that the Parliamentarian forces couldn't have deployed in a straight line, in an attempt to accommodate 'their' curving raised ground which bends northwards towards and along the Banbury road. Eventually the battle archaeology (from a major survey) and the commendable efforts of others would produce a convincing re-interpretation of the battlefield. For me, this in itself has provided valuable lessons when reviewing other troubled battlefields.
Issues I raise here are obviously not exclusive to the Battle of Edgehill and are features of practically all 'history'. With such histories we all 'want to know what happened' and it falls to historians to best make sense of the details they have and provide a history — which is no easy task. But this is precisely all they are; someone's interpretation of the past. As Keith Jenkins explained in 1991; a history is not necessarily the past. And as the saying goes
history does not repeat itself, historians repeat one another.
The 20th century north-east to south-west orientations
People have always known that the Royalists first congregated upon the Edgehill escarpment but it then appears to have been a very natural habit to assume that they would then eventually deploy directly below it and neatly parallel with it. Every single document, book and publication showing their battle arrays in alignment and parallel with the scarp is not a reported feature contemporary to the battle and has not been created by someone who was at the battle. From the late Victorian era through to the mid-20th century, deployment conjectures slowly morph into the familiar north east to south west orientation showing the habit was already firmly established even before the discovery of De Gomme's 17th century royalist battle plan document in the 1960s (at Windsor library) which does seemingly place the escarpment directly behind and parallel to the King's battle arrays. But even this document is not contemporary with the battle and was apparently sketched out from a description given by Prince Rupert decades later, from memory, with De Gomme seemingly making the same assumption when including and siting the hill. The document was produced so many years after the battle that most commentators now confidently point out its inaccuracies when comparing it against several contemporary accounts of deployment formations; while the Parliamentarian deployments are simply missing. Victorian assumptions that the Royalists had occupied and deployed the full length of the scarp (to Sunrising) have seemingly only exacerbated the notion, while a little known rewording of one contemporary description of how the royalists descended the hill by substituting the word 'covered' from the primary source with the word 'several', to describe ways down the hill, only served to substantiate the belief that they descended the scarp simultaneously across a wide region (rather than as described two or three abreast and logically using the only road down) . There is not a single contemporary description of the battle arrays aligning parallel with the escarpment, while the modern understanding of the historic terrain also makes such orientations difficult, impractical and fundamentally illogical. No archaeology has been recovered, and no battlefield archaeological patterning has been established to support the notion that the armies deployed parallel to Edgehill.
The 2009 New Interpretion
Glenn Foard published the full details of the 2004-7 landmark survey in December 2012, with his interpretation of the archaeological survey and its details, further illuminating his battlefield interpretation. Arguably, his interpretation of Ramsey's hill, indicated by primary accounts and historic terrain reconstruction, was the principal key to unlocking a more accurate and truer reading of the battlefield, but the archaeology identified as case/hail shot, and its apparent trajectory, provides the additional credibility for rotating the battlefield by 90 degrees (from most previous interpretations).
Accepting the considered and balanced study of the evidence must make the 2009 deployment interpretation and orientation the most trustworthy, factual and accurate to date and perhaps as near conclusive as we could ever have hoped for. Inevitably, observers may suggest further adjustments but its core principles appear sound. Foard himself contemplates whether the parliamentarian arrays may be shown marginally too far forward (or north-eastwards) to explain an area of archaeology or activity towards the infantry's left rear, and I too contemplate minor adjustments in general.
It may appear pedantic to consider if the two cavalry wings to the north are positioned slightly too far north, but this would be a return to simple speculation. But Edgehill is an unusual battlefield in that it creates a terrain with many and major hidden sightlines, with this interpretation creating a parliamentarian infantry which would not be able to see nearly half of its own number, and two separate armies which wouldn't be able to see each others arrays in full, during the initial deployments. I have long struggled to accept the apparent prerequisite of showing Parliament's lines as being uniformly straight - as this might have proved impossible considering the terrain and conditions - making conjectural diagrammatical plans surely only representational. Parliamentarian accounts highlight a handsome royalist deployment and others seem to sympathetically endorse that Essex did the best he could under the circumstances, which subtly imply slightly unconventional battle lines for Parliament's positions, as already demonstrated by their left-wing cavalry. Considering if Parliament's infantry were compromised by the terrain may refine their positions further.
With the conditions of the Edgehill battlefield creating significant blind spots, I also have reservations concerning the modern condition that both armies (or infantries) deployed at a uniform distance from the opposing army across their entire width. It seems reasonable to question if the fundamental orientation of the battle lines of each army (including cavalry) could be perfectly parallel to one another. If the extent of broken sightlines could be demonstrated, there might plausibly be a greater argument towards unparallel lines than having to default to parallel lines based on ideal practises or lack of evidence. Only two studies in modern times (Burne & Pannett) have considered deployments at oblique angles. If the ideals, as recorded in military publications of the time, weren't achieved, such conditions may bare influence upon directional adjustments as the royalist army closed. (A tool as part of this website is currently in R&D to help illustrate this).
Following this theme, account details of the King's Lifeguard joining the flank of the royalist right-wing and Ramsey's opposite troops seemingly reacting with their own adjustments, combined with viewing the edge of the plateau they occupied, might also allow for Ramsey's cavalry to have deployed at a more oblique angle to their infantry; something which may also explain part of their retreat through the ranks of their left-wing infantry.
There appears sufficiently little doubt that Foard's 2009 hypothesis and detailed interpretation of the archaeology has largely and successfully secured the battle's relationship with the terrain, but a credible alternative (utilising additional historic terrain detail) does remain plausible, if less likely. The project is so impressive that the results begin to influence details of, or gaps within, the accepted narrative for the battle. Indeed, considering the core patterning of archaeology yielded from the project, it becomes tempting (even with the lack of fire from the far left-wing infantry regiments) to contemplate whether Essex's infantry deployments were as wide as that shown in Foard's deployment patterns.
The Website's Origins & Inspiration
In 1994 I borrowed a paperback book of Battlefield Walks (David Clark) and was particularly curious about the English Civil War battlefield site nearby at Edgehill in Warwickshire. Sadly the book provided no more than a mundane and practically pointless broad circular route — primarily along roads including the A422 — and was seemingly miles from the "action", which myself and friends endured. This provided the incentive for me to discover if any actual footpaths over and through the battlefield still existed and this in turn inspired the desire to dismiss the lazy myth that no area of the battlefield remained accessible; due to the construction of the private MOD ammunition depot(s) in 1942, sitting over a large area of the site.
Locating available paths and bridleways revealed a sorry state of "neglect" and unofficial retirement of several routes along with incidents of 'unfortunate commercial development'; but a handful of legal rights of way did still exist (including paths SS22, SM174 & SM175a). If these issues could be rectified, then relevant views of the core areas and passage through parts of the renown Peter Young's suggested deployment plans for Edgehill, combined with sights of interest, could be utilised to establish a worthy battlefield walk.
While academic works consistently provided detail of the battle's key events and, for decades, a singular published work by Brigadier Young, provided the only modern or 'reliable' dedicated and extensive detail on the subject, very few resources provided any specifics concerning the physical site and geographical locations. While wanting to tie footpaths and routes together with areas of the battlefield and its events, I developed an interest in what could still be seen, what was left of the battlefield and exactly what happened where; which traditionally seemed to be of less academic interest. At the time, this was clearly a typical historic UK battlefield which hadn't benefited from research into its historic or physical terrain.
Britain has not been good at preserving battlefields or providing visitors with help in their interpretation
One of the greatest failings of military history over the past century has been its inability to accurately and securely locate the action or even, sometimes, the battlefield itself.
During early investigations I first came across the hand drawn and enthrallingly detailed 18th century pre–enclosure survey of the land surrounding Radway village, which covered much of the battlefield. (Its existence still wouldn't be noted — or referred to in a published work by studies of the battlefield until 2006 — and only indirectly alluded to by 2005 research — almost twelve years later?).
Since my initial interests in the mid 1990s several projects and works have added new insights and improved immeasurably our understanding of the battlefield's relationship with the landscape and the landscape we see today. But beginning with the crucial logic of simply attempting to reconstruct the actual battlefield landscape, as it would have appeared in 1642, David Pannett's seemingly commonsense initiative to consider the influence brought to the battle by historic terrain research began to accommodate, as early as the 1970s, the potential for a radical reinterpretation of the initial starting lines for both armies and that a review of established doctrines' might be due. (Interpretations inspired by this research were first published in 2003, including the revised edition of 'The Military Heritage of Britain and Ireland' guide). Relatively recent 'detective work', based upon accounts, historic land mapping and actual physical archaeology, means modern enthusiasts and historians alike are increasingly armed with a greater factual knowledge of the landscape and are forced to default to informed speculation — and often general assumption — much less often. The interpretation of such evidence(s) remains the key.
The Battle of Edgehill might traditionally have been regarded with less interest than other key battle sites, perhaps as it 'allegedly' suffers from being largely inaccessible and in large part for not having a conclusive or dramatic result. In the modern era it had been relatively overlooked and is largely lost within the general landscape. But surprisingly my curiosity and the superb efforts of others, have unearthed a plethora of battlefield 'footprints' (relevant contemporary land features with good interpretive value), whether manmade or natural, which relate directly to the battle and often still exist. In this sense it could be argued that Edgehill has a greater battlefield footprint than any other conventional battlefield site in Britain?
My early interest in Edgehill followed the publication of my first book (mountaineering equipment) and I momentarily toyed with the idea of a "Battlefield walks around Edgehill" publication — a sort of modern version of Walford's 1886 book — but felt I couldn't bring anything significantly new or uniquely worthy to the project. I had a meeting with the then 'Heart of England Tourist Board' who were concurrently interested in promoting the area's relationship with the battle, but their initial project was eventually abandoned during the feasibility studies.
Only years later it became obvious that presenting the wealth of knowledge now available to us through this subsequent medium allowed a new style of battlefield publication which could justify an Edgehill project. Dr Glenn Foard's interpretations (since 2009) apparently
based predominantly upon the battle archaeology also reinvigorates enthusiasm, as it can be argued that we can now view the battlefield for the first time with reasonable and greater certainty. As this project currently focuses primarily upon the battlefield landscape I've found no amount of maps and illustrative plates in conventional books can match this format or cater for its objectives as satisfactorily.
The advent of such resources as the brilliant Google Maps, with clear photographic satellite images, now provides everyone with "access" to the entire Edgehill battlefield and not just the distorted and confusing perspectives from roadsides and the Edgehill escarpment. Battlefield visitors from around the world can also use the incorporated 'Street View' to wonder the lanes but with an added height to see over the top of most of the hedgerows. To my knowledge this is the first time a battlefield and its events have been presented in this way and more radical additional plans for this website are currently in research and development.
The old footpaths
As a young man, after alerting Warwickshire County Council to the particularly poor and unmarked state of all the public footpaths to the north and west of Radway village, I completed a survey of the area.
Use of one public right of way (path SM175a) - which leaves the sharp bend of the Tysoe Road near the church - was pro-actively discouraged by some local residents and its presence pro-actively irradiated from the physical landscape. At the time, it was believed that its route presented intimate views of where the royalist infantry deployed. Unbelievably at the other end of this public right of way (adjoining Langdon Lane) a Sewage Works compound and building had been built directly and squarely across the path and came complete with its own 7ft wire mesh perimeter fence (running around its brick building and all the way back to Langdon Lane). The sizable footprint of this fenced enclosure didn't partially interrupt the path, but completely obstructed it, as the route ran across its very centre, creating a truly offensive disregard for public rights of way. Similarly evidence of another right of way (Bridleway) nearby was completely absent, or irradiated by a new development with newly constructed domestic gardens, accompanied once again by the naive efforts of residents shamelessly partaking in the charade of not knowing where the path was.
My subsequent report led to a meeting with a representative of Warwickshire County Council to enquire about the frustratingly poor state of access to the battlefield area and he confirmed that negotiations were ongoing with the MOD and that negotiations were approaching a conclusion for a scheme (incorporating path SS21) to create a 3 mile bridleway route
lost to the public since 1942. A stretch of Red Road, to the south of Little Kineton just outside the MOD camp would be included as part of the new through-route bridleway to Kineton. He felt historical information about the battle could strengthen his case. (Years later and after the new access was created the Battlefields Trust website still reported
Warwickshire County Council is apparently pursuing the matter through the courts).
Thankfully the issues raised by the survey (around the Radway area) were corrected not too long afterwards and I'm happy to report that in recent years even more permissive access routes, including part of the Battlefields Trust Edgcote to Edgehill battlefield trail, (passing across Bullet Hill providing definitive views) have been established, remnants of paths have been linked up with new permitted segments and rights of way have since been reinstated to allow for greater access and views of key areas with a precious stretch of Red Road recently becoming accessible once again. Today the rights of way and many permissive paths are clearly way marked and many boundary positions now benefit from substantial pedestrian friendly swing gates. Clearly those at the Battlefields Trust have since done a sterling job promoting and establishing their route through the area and local volunteers now do a fine job in maintaining their footpaths. A 2010 local village survey by the Radway Civil Parish Council recorded that 82% of residents surveyed now knew where the paths were(!?).
Today, at the southern end of the battlefield, Radway enjoys a plethora of well marked and defined pathways and thoroughly enjoyable walks can be taken around the hill and through the village.
Thank you to everyone who has helped this project, whether with permissions, materials, access or otherwise - your help has been much appreciated.
Acknowledgements include: Eric Niderost, The Weider History Group, DSDA Kineton & Mr T. Bunting, Mr A. Forsyth (of Moorlands), Birmingham Libraries & Archives, Warwickshire County Record Office, The Francis Frith collection, Dr G. Foard, Warwickshire Historic Environment Record (B. Wallace & B. Gethin), English Heritage (National Lead Officer on battlefields & Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Birmingham), H. Jackson (Red House Farm), English Heritage Archives/Images; and those who have agreed to provide valuable links from their sites. And of course, a thank you for all the endeavours of authors, researchers, trusts and volunteers of all previous Edgehill battle projects.
You can use this website's original photographs of the battlefield for your own project(s) free of charge. (Images without text and high resolution versions are also available on request). The only requirements are:
- For website use, photographs must be credited directly below (or on) each image as: Photograph by www.BattleOfEdgehill.org (Or left as is)
- If using on a website, you must host a digital copy of each image on your web space/server and must not link directly to versions at this website
- If using images on a website - please provide a link to this website on a logical page
- You must not redistribute digital copies of the photographs, or use on third party websites, without prior permission
- For printed use (including commercial projects) - photographs to be credited directly below (or on) each image as: Photograph by D.Harridence/www.BattleOfEdgehill.org
- The images are free to use for commercial publications, but I would really appreciate a complimentary copy! (High resolution and alternative versions of photographs are available)
- For all uses, please advise (via the contact page) when and where you are using the images.
I'd be delighted if you choose to use my photographs of the battlefield — contact me.
If you have a quality website concerning the Civil War, battlefields, Warwickshire, or similar, then I'd be most grateful for a link to this website -
Please simply link to:
(Not a full URL/address copied from your browser's address bar - if you want to link directly to the home page - as the file extension of the home page and it's directory name may change in the future).
Also, please link to web pages which feature the link for a downloadable PDF document – and not directly to the PDF itself. Many thanks!
Website Technical Details (+ Advice)
This site uses modern and valid HTML (XHTML5) and modern CSS.
The technologies deployed are standards compliant — non–proprietary and do not require any "downloads" or the installation of plug–ins — including the battle animations. (But Google Maps does require the Adobe Flash plug–in if/when using Street View).
This website was originally devised in 2011 — and will always continue to benefit from regular updates and improvements — and embraced the functionality, new technologies and expectations increasingly required from modern and engaging websites and web-applications. While it has been thoroughly tested, and all the code has been conscientiously optimised for speed, there remains the possibility that it's performance may suffer in older, slower and/or legacy platforms (computers/browsers). The generous sizing for many of the modern battlefield photographs also assumes modern broadband speeds.
Every effort has been made to ensure the site is fully functional in the last two or three versions of key browsers. Recommended browsers (for desktop machines): Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and the very latest version of Internet Explorer. Additional efforts (and toil) have been taken to ensure the site is at least functional for older Internet Explorer browsers: IE6, 7 and 8 (for desktop machines); primarily for educational, academic and other institutions with aging equipment. If you experience problems, try pressing 'Ctrl + F5' (together) to clear the cache and reload the page.
This website uses version 3.7 of the Google Maps API, and utilises many modern technologies (supported by modern browsers only) for your convenience and to provide improvements to downloading and page rendering speeds. Additional provisions have been made for Apple iPads - and some fundamental issues for general tablet devices — to ensure functionality. This website also employs the use of: HTML5 history API, local storage, native video and forms, SVG graphics and filters, responsive design and advanced CSS3 (including; flex-box, media-queries, transitions and animations).
The original code, design, and written content (except where otherwise stated) is the copyright of this website.
This website is 'accessibility supported' and achieves the WCAG 2.0 Success Criteria.
Thank Heaven! At last the trumpets peal
Before our strength gives way.
For King or for the Commonwealth
No matter which they say,
The first dry rattle of new–drawn steel
Changes the world to–day!