Alternative interpretations

A continued bibliography of additional deployment conjectures.

An additional resource to supplement key deployment conjectures and interpretations already illustrated within Battle Of Edgehill.org.

Indeed, putting all the available evidence together, I feel as certain of the accuracy of my sketch-maps as of almost any battlefield described in this book.
Alfred Burne. (The Battlefields of England - 'Edgehill' chapter). 1950.

Edgehill is a popular battle and has benefited from much study and attention. Many books and other sources have proposed alternative interpretations of the battle's relationship with the landscape and terrain.

Based upon military history alone, and some local tradition, the likes of Burne and Young helped establish the precedent for most modern interpretations of the Edgehill battlefield. Unfortunately much of the local tradition is unreliable and until relatively recently little was known of the historic terrain. Virtually no scientific processes were applied to the study and most interpretations of the battlefield relied upon such things as 'military probability', individual's personal interpretation and "scholarly" conjecture alone. The application of modern archaeological techniques have supplemented the study and enabled new interpretations of the topographical details expressed by the battle's combatants and contemporary accounts. The 2004-2007 archaeological survey currently appears to demonstrate results which don't validate, or support, previous suggestions of where the armies may have deployed or engaged.

For illustrations of key interpretations from 1950, 1967, 1970s, 1984, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2009, visit the main battlefield page. As a resource and for completeness, additional sources which also contained illustrated deployment positions and suggestions, are also listed here:

Publications

  • A School Atlas of English History (Ed Samuel Rawson Gardiner), from 1892 shows deployments which would be copied/reproduced elsewhere (e.g The Public Schools, Historical Atlas. Ed C.Colbeck. 1905), and illustrates routes to the battlefield including a march by Essex's army via Wellesbourne. Both the Parlimentary left-wing cavalry and the Royalist right-wing cavalry are north, or east, of the Banbury road. The map would continue to provide the basic inspiration for several publications.
  • Edge Hill: the Battle and Battlefield; Together With Some Notes on Banbury and Thereabouts. (Edwin Alfred Walford). 1st Ed 1886.
    Claims to be the first book to publish a diagrammatic Commencement of Battle plan: Running parallel to the Edgehill escarpment the Royalists' thin frontline adopts a mild reverse 'S' shape and stretches from north of the Banbury rd, south west of Radway and continues practically to Sun Rising Hill (A422). The Parliamentarian positions largely echo this shape with Ramsey's cavalry positioned ahead of the infantry.
  • Shakespeare's Land. (Charles James Ribton-Turner). 1893.
    Walford's 1886 plan and conjecture appears to be the inspiration for Ribton-Turner's map which is overlaid upon a John Bartholomew & Co map (circa 1888).
  • Rambles round Edge Hills and in the Vale of the Red Horse.[sic] (George Miller). 1st Ed 1896.
    Little known are three maps only published in Miller's 1st edition of his book illustrating three stages of the battle. Initially he locates the Royalists deploying along the Edgehill escarpment and Parliament deploying in a straight line running perfectly north to south, from beyond the Banbury road, approximately running through the modern Graveground Coppice and over Bleadon hill and ending shy of Red road. His north to south deployments of both armies, as battle eventually commenced, pre-empted similar suggestions made in 2003 by over a hundred years. His positioning of both armies on the battlefield appears informed by his observations regarding archaeology typically discovered around the Graveground Coppice region, the location of the Radway brook and his belief that Charles stayed on the field overnight close to the King's Leys Barn.
  • Edge Hill: the Battle and Battlefield; Together With Some Notes on Banbury and Thereabouts. (Edwin Alfred Walford). 2nd Ed 1904.
    A slightly different, but noticeably, updated plan when compared to the 1st edition version.
  • The Wanderings of Charles I. (W.G. Bond). 1927.
    Not too dissimilar to Burne (1950) but with both armies located further north east with the Parliamentarian left-horse and Royalist right-horse north of the Banbury rd. The plan and map appears to be a careful copy maps originating from Gardiner, 1892.
  • The Great Civil War: A Military History. (Alfred Burne & Peter Young). 1959.
    Plan reproduced from Burne 1950.
  • Battles & Generals of the Civil Wars, 1642-1651. (Colonel Hugh Cuthbert Basset Rogers). 1968.
    His illustration shows an extraordinarily broad frontage and is partly based upon a set of calculations - related in his book - estimating the physical footprint sizes and spacing of the deployed armies and their frontages. Parliament's right-horse (Fielding) is shown to be partly crossing the Sun Rising Hill rd (A422), west of the Brixfield Fm access rd (now 'The Cottage'), with the continued arrays curving north east (350m to the "front" of Battle Holt) with Ramsey's left-wing cavalry north of the Banbury rd (B4086) and north of Arnold's Fm. Wilmot and Byron on the Royalist left sit partly on Sun Rising Hill rd, while their army's right-horse (Rupert) assemble square across the Banbury rd and just north of the Farnborough rd. The Parliamentarian curved battle line nearly reaches 6km in length. He also speculates that the Royalist Battery may have been positioned within the Radway Grange parkland, (shown close to the village centre). Unlike most other compendiums, Rogers offers detailed reasoning for his suggested positions.
  • Discovering Battlefields in Southern England. (John Kinross). 1968.
    Similar to Burne (1950) but with wider frontages, with Parliament's left cavalry well south of the Banbury rd and Royalists much closer to the Parliamentary positions, with both armies practically straddling Red rd. (Several reprints, including 2004 and 2008 as 'Discovering the Battlefields of England and Scotland').
  • Guide to the Battlefields of Britain & Ireland. (Lt Colonel Howard Green). 1973.
    Map and plan reproduced from the Kinross 1968 publication, but with the addition of Charles' (and Royalists') final position parallel with and west of Radway village.
  • British Battlefields, Vol 3, The Midlands. (Philip Warner). 1973.
    Appears to be very similar to Burne (1950), but with both armies closer to each other and both armies positioned closer to Edgehill, with the Parliamentarian left on the Langdon lane junction.
  • The English Civil War. (Brigadier Peter Young & Brigadier Richard Holmes). 1974.
    Reproduced from Young (1967).
  • Battles In Britain 1642-1746. Vol 2. (William Seymour). 1975.
    Similar to Young (1967), but with details of artillery, with Royalists further forward and Parliament's right Dragoons forward; noticeably advanced (east of Lower Rough Piece). The Royalists array runs from north of Banbury rd to Brixfield Fm (now 'The Cottage') at 2.75km width. […] neither can it be determined exactly where the left wing [of the Parliamentarians] rested, but probably on the Kineton-Knowle End rd near Radway Ground, with the line running through the southern end of Graveground Coppice to a little way beyond The Oaks.
  • From Hastings to Culloden: Battlefields in Britain. (Peter Young & John Eric Adair). 1979.
    Simple deployment details, largely similar to Young 1967.
  • Atlas of the English Civil War. (P.R. Newman). 1984.
    Rudimentary map seemingly inspired by Young (1967).
  • A Battlefield Atlas of the English Civil War. (Anthony Baker). 1986.
    Detailed units, but with thin detail of Swedish/Dutch deployment styles. A near hybrid between Young (1967) and Roberts & Tincey (2001) set at a slightly more clockwise orientation with broad Royalist frontage and all Parliamentarian cavalry noticeably forward of infantry. Parliament's infantry is positioned from the Oaks plantation and between Thistle Farm and Battle Holt. Ramsey's Cavalry stretches to north of the Langdon lane junction. Royalist right Dragoons and Lifeguard are north of Banbury rd and east of Gosport Lane. Centre and left are north of the Tysoe rd and seemingly run to the edge of the original Radway field border. This conjecture has achieved the unlikely recognition of being the official deployment map and conjecture adopted by the high-profile and popular Wikipedia website and its Battle of Edgehill web page. (At the time of writing in 2012. The Wikipedia version's labelling, on the Royalist's right, is less clear and appears confused). This conjecture (around Parliament's left-wing) provides a prime example of ignoring clear topographical details from contemporary accounts for this area of the deployment.
  • Walking & Exploring The Battlefields of Britain. (John Kinross). 1988.
    Identical to Smurthwaite (1984), with the peripheral omission of Dragoons (and Infantry reserve) detail.
  • Title and author TBC. Early 1990s.
    Ed. In the author's procession - A photocopy of "Chapter 8: Edgehill", which includes an illustration based upon Burne (1950). It inexplicably labels the centre of the old Great and Little Kineton fields as Marshes. Text: Across a mile or so of marshy ground the slightly shorter Parliamentarian line, ….
  • Traveller's Guide to the Battlefields of the English Civil War. (Martyn Bennett). 1990.
    An unusual interpretation seemingly based upon Victorian descriptions/conjecture, with excessively wide deployments (ranging as far southwest as the Spring hill road) and royalists deployed virtually upon the lower slopes of the escarpment while it apparently pays no attention to reported archaeological finds and contemporary landscape features as reported by eyewitnesses of the battle.
  • The English Civil War. (Maurice Ashley). 1990.
    Reproduction of Young (1967).
  • English Heritage, British Battles. (Ken & Denise Guest). 1996.
    Identical to Smurthwaite (1984) with the one exception of Ramsey's (Parliament's left cavalry) Dragoons listed as 'Skirmishers' instead, and not illustrated in the familiar right-angled deployment shape (first shown by Young, 1967). (Artillery has also been removed).
  • The Military Heritage of Britain & Ireland. (Martin Marix Evans). 1st Ed, 1998.
    Extraordinarily simplistic depiction of armies but appears to adopt the Young (1967) positions.
  • The Oxford Companion to Military History. (Edited by Richard Holmes), 2001.
    Brief narrative of the battle, with full colour deployment plan reproduced from Young (1967).
  • The Military Heritage of Britain & Ireland. (Martin Marix Evans). Revised 2nd Ed, 2003.
    A relatively unusual interpretation, sharing the same orientation as the 1896 Miller plan and similar to the 2003 Foard/Pannet positions (with both armies also represented as single graphical units). Unlike Foard/Pannett, here the two armies sit perfectly vertical - running north to south. The parliamentarian positions are placed further west (virtually behind Graveground Coppice), do not cross the Banbury rd to their north and the southern positions appear to only reach the western corner of the old Battle Holt copse. The block representing the Royalist army is closer to the Langdon Lane, does cross the Banbury rd to the north (but still remains south of the apposing parliamentarian positions), while their southern range falls just north of the current Radway church. The deployments of both armies are approximately 1.3km apart.
  • Two Men in a Trench II. (Tony Pollard & Neil Oliver). 2003.
    Essentially a recreation of Smurthwaite (1984), but without artillery on Edgehill.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of the Revolutions and Wars of England, Scotland, and Ireland; 1639-1660' (Stephen C. Manganiello). 2004.
    Reproduction of Baker (1986).
  • The British Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, 1638-1660. (T. Royal). 2004.
    Reproduction of Burne (1950).
  • A Military History of the English Civil War. (Malcolm Wanklyn and Frank Jones). 2005
    Wanklyn and Jones provide an unusual Parliamentarian deployment illustration and position Balfour and the "Rear Brigade" behind the small hill - Bleadon, where the modern Oaks plantation now partly occupies - which is similar to Peter Young's theory and which is different to Wanklyn's book a year later.
  • Decisive Battles of the English Civil War. (Professor Malcolm Wanklyn). 2006.
    Former head of the History and War studies division at Wolverhampton University and then research professor in the Conflict Studies Unit, Wanklyn offers a fluid, efficient and authoritative review of the battle with two chapters dedicated to Edgehill. A rudimentary stylised plan and map of the armies' deployments and initial positions, provides sufficient topographical detail to determine fundamental positions and widths: Positioned in familiar territories, but showing wide frontages, running parallel to the Edgehill escarpment. According to the plan's own bar scale, the Parliamentarian main battle arrays demonstrate a width of 3.7km, with additional Dragoons to their right, positioned on the Sun Rising Hill rd (A422). Their left Dragoons and Musketeers occupy an area next to the Banbury rd (B4086) - seemingly inhabiting the same modern enclosure also utilised by Dragoons and Musketeers in Scott's (2004) conjecture - while Wanklyn's hypothesis also argues that the army deployments would not have crossed east of the Banbury rd. The armies are shown as approximately 1.07km apart.
  • The Daily Telegraph Guide to Britain's Military Heritage. (Mark Adkin). 2006.
    Curious untidy lines, but not too dissimilar to classic Young (1967).
  • In search of the Battlefields of Britain. (Paul Abrahams & Marc Alexander). 2009.
    Similar to Young (1967) - but narrower, with Royalist's right and Parliment's left not ranging past, or close to, the Banbury road.
  • The English Civil War: A Military History. (Peter Gaunt). 2014.
    As late as 2014 Gaunt's new publication - featuring an account of Edgehill - expresses caution towards the interpretation of the latest scientific evidence from the battlefield and does not address the relatively modern historic landscape research for its Edgehill battlefield description and favours the familiar interpretations established in the second half of the 20th century, stating "Most historians suggest that the royalists deployed along a north-east to south-west alignment, parallel with Edgehill and perhaps half a mile or more in front of the foot of the escarpment. The village of Radway was therefore to their immediate rear." To partly substantiate this, Gaunt offers the phrase "slight incline" when alluding to accounts and avoids an actual quote of "charge them uphill" when referring to the Royalist's attack. While he apparently assumes "historians" have studied the geography, historic terrain, archaeology and historic mapping and are not guilty of continuously repeating one another's unchallenged assumptions, in his notes he appears to find refuge in the battle's "contemporary documentary sources", but arguably overlooks that, ironically, these are the very elements which challenge his favoured deployment positions. Frustratingly, Gaunt's understanding of alternative Edgehill battlefield interpretations appears hasty, incomplete and dangerously dismissive, with an apparent misinterpretation of what information has been published (note 64). But there is however a notable potential for a progressive narrative, as his account appears to be the first - of significant profile - to wilfully omit describing the Royalists as having formally deployed along Edgehill prior to the battle (and seemingly disregards the traditional 'folklore' about Essex declining to attack uphill on the Sunday), but this may yet only be coincidental as Woolrych (1961) & Wanklyn (2006) are cited as his main secondary sources (note 58) for the battle and who begin their battle accounts from later in the day or not at all.
    Ed: Alternatively, rather than scientific survey needing validation to support revised battlefield locations, the archaeological results do not appear to validate (and do appear to decisively contradict) traditional suggestions of where the armies deployed. It perhaps should be argued that traditional interpretations need to justify their rationale against the evidence and not visa versa.
  • A Brief Guide To British Battlefields. (David Clark). 2015.
    Although the book is about 'British Battlefields' Clark's description of where the Edgehill battlefield actually is suffers some inaccuracies while his sketch map persists with a traditional interpretation of battlefield deployment locations (being similar to Roberts/Tincey 2001, but with Royalists not ranging past the Banbury road and sited closer to Radway). He reports the Castle Inn (tower) as marking the point where Charles I studied the enemy as fact and states that Edgehill is the only battlefield in the country which has witnessed a decline, as opposed to an expansion, in visitor facilities. While this ignores the addition of opening new "Battlefield Trail" visitor footpaths across the battlefield and the installation of visitor information panels in recent years, much press coverage - available online and as reported by the Battlefield's Trust website (which he recommends) since 2013 - has also promoted a lottery funded permanent Battle of Edgehill interactive visitor hub at Radway's Church; adjacent to the battlefield. Commendably the author's narrative of the battle avoids the hackneyed Victorian account of Royalist's first deploying on Edgehill and eventually deciding to re-deploy below as the Parliamentarians would not attack uphill). In the book's introduction the author describes the argued revision of some battlefield sites (including Stow on the Wold) as victims.
  • Battlefields of England and Scotland. (John Kinross). 2016.
    The habit of authors which repeat outdated Edgehill narratives and decades old research appears unabated. Whilst Wikipedia, this website (appearing at number 2 in search results), the publication of books by the UK's most eminent battle archaeologist and the Battlefields Trust, no less, have all published and promoted a revised modern understanding of the Edgehill battlefield based upon new factual research for several years now, it again seems to elude another author (who is expressly publishing a book about UK battlefields) who states in his 2016 publication "Thanks are due to Shire books for allowing me to reprint Discovering Battlefields of England and Scotland with many updates and three new battle sites in Scotland." He also fails to advise his readers of the long established permanent and public exhibition about the battle in the adjacent Radway village. Amidst his report of the battle he claims that "the infantry in the centre fought behind hedges" (?) and that "Battleton Holt, [was] a small copse where the Royalist heavy guns were positioned" - which did not exist prior to 1701 - and he repeats the Victorian folklore of Charles sleeping in King's Leys Farm? He reprints the decades old - and arguably clearly out of date - battle plan.

Professor Wanklyn's assessments include his own lucid observations concerning issues raised by de Gomme's well-known, and near contemporary, diagrammatic Royalists deployment plan:

De Gomme's depiction of the deployment of the Royalist cavalry regiments is confirmed in general by other sources, but this is not the case with the infantry. The plan shows the foot regiments drawn up in five brigades with three in the front and two in the second line, in such a manner that the latter could fill the gaps between the brigades in the front line if necessary, that is, in what is popularly referred to as the Swedish manner. However, one wonders if the Royalist infantry was deployed exactly as depicted. In the first place, under the Swedish system regiments were disaggregated in order to create the complex fourfold division of pikes and muskets required, yet there is plentiful evidence to show that some at least of the Royalist foot regiments operated as units during the battle. Second, the plan does not include three regiments that were with the army on the march to Edgehill, two of which are known to have fought at the battle. Third, two contemporary accounts of Edgehill, one Royalist and one Parliamentarian, specifically mention the Royalist infantry as being drawn up in nine, not five, bodies. This would allow for eighteen regiments if they were brigaded in pairs, and that is almost the exact number known to have been in the king's marching army in late October 1642. The nine-brigade scenario may also explain why the Royalist foot regiments which suffered the highest losses amongst their leading officers appear to have been in pairs, the Lifeguard and the Lord Lindsey's regiments, and Sir Edward Stradling's and Thomas Lunsford's, for example. It would therefore be best to describe de Gomme's map as a guide to how the Royalist infantry was deployed at Edgehill but nothing more.
Malcolm Wanklyn, 2006.

A column detailing potential issues with many previous Edgehill battlefield interpretations is featured within the 'About this website' page.

Other deployment maps offered in various guided walk publications are omitted.

Ed, battleOfEdgehill.org. 2015:
It is the Victorian invention of the Royalists first deploying along the length and breadth of the Edgehill escarpment (perhaps partly inspired by the discovery of a skeleton below the Sunrising Inn/House) that fundamentally established the complete (and modern) assumption that the Royalist army would therefore later redeploy on the plain directly below adopting the same orientation (while also therefore assuming that Parliament had originally deployed facing them perfectly opposite and parallel to the escarpment). While academics regularly refer to historic documented sources to justify their steadfast support for such battlefield deployment plans - which only date from the mid-20th century onwards - ironically there is not a single suggestion anywhere within these sources which describe or imply the royalists deployed parallel with the escarpment? (Crucially there are also several descriptions which do not match the suggested terrain, but academics devise loose interpretations to avoid confronting these inconveniences). Based upon the actual and real evidence of the physical terrain (as described by historic accounts), historic mapping evidence and the carefully recorded boundless numbers of physical evidence recovered directly from the battlefield, increasingly many 'historians' simply appear to be in denial? Even without the archaeology, the "traditional" interpretations, starting with Burne (1950s) and Young (1960s), can be viewed as increasingly bizarre. While historians have plenty of reason to always be cautious it remains inexplicable why many commentators lethargically default to the Edgehill interpretations that they do with seemingly little more rationale than habit or tradition (which barely dates back 60 or 70 years) and which, based on the evidence and historic documents, are ironically the outlandish option. Arguing in support of the battlefield interpretations established in the mid-20th century by ex-military men plonking down armies across field-scapes – which verge upon comical and which were typically, at best, based upon little more than guess work precisely because they had no evidence or a credible informed framework – can only demonstrate an ignorance of all the facts or a complete faith in Victorian musings? Some quant Victorian traditions and some haphazard interpretations from the 50s and 60s (based upon virtually non-existent research) have corrupted the understanding of where and how to interpret the Edgehill battlefield for modern audiences? If this recent history had not happened then presumably modern "scholars" would interpret the landscape more rationally and pragmatically? Arguing support for the interpretations which are primarily based upon the Young suggestion in the face of all the evidence in support of a clear alternative and in the face of all the evidence which contradicts the Young interpretation(s), is technically the radical position to adopt. The major breakthroughs in understanding the historic terrain, the accurately matching of contemporary accounts with the actual geography and the comprehensive broad base survey of archaeological evidence are what historians should refer to, and not what other "historians" guessed two or three generations ago.

Miscellaneous

  • Henry Beighton's map of 1728:
    Beighton's map includes a simple representation of the armies' positions, but placed further north - of typical modern conjectures - with both arimes astride of the Banbury road. Details and labels imply that Rupert rejoined the action, this time, from the south, while it also seems to depict Essex arriving via Red road and returning along the Banbury road. Importantly the deployed orientations are as close to the modern 2009 interpretation as they are to the traditional conjectures and both armies are shown to have deployed across the road. Beighton's location would be reproduced in countless antiquarian maps of Warwickshire in the 19th century, to which Burne - writing in the 1950s - would suggest were all too far north.
  • George Salmon's Radway pre-enclosure map of 1756: (Warwickshire County Record Office. CR1596/197).
    Within the map's decorative cartouche Salmon shows the two armies, some basic information and a list of what battle landmarks can be seen in the larger survey. The drawing is so tiny a magnifying glass is required but it's clearly based upon Henry Beighton's earlier 1728 map which showed the same army deployments and virtually identical labels. However, for the first and only time Salmon's map precisely pinpoints several locations referred to in Beighton's much vaguer cartography. Salmon's detail also clarifies the location of both armies being above either Battle and Thistle farms or the central grave sites, providing for the first time a relative coordinate for Beighton's deployments. Salmon's three dots (a fourth being the tittle above a lowercase j) marked as 'Graves' could relate the triangle of two farms and the main grave pit(s) (as Yates & Sons mapping from the late 1700s did), or alternatively could potentially illustrate the two main pits, plus the 'Graves Furlong' site to the east (which features in Salmon's main map). One modern author suggests Salmon's dots may indicate 'Graves Furlong', but also a grave site first indicated within Beighton's map (close to and east of Little Kineton).
  • Alfred Beesley spoke with a labourer on Edgehill in the 1830s who believed the king was originally close to the Edge Hill village. Presumably after assuming the king stood at the centre of his army Beesley offers us, what appears to be, the very first example of Royalists utilising the full length of Edgehill, from Knowle End to Sunrising. His illustration in his 'History of Banbury' (1841) could be the origin of such battle and deployment interpretations seen in Victorian publications, and astonishingly evolving to replace Beighton's original locations (1728) to arguably live on - setting the original precedent - in interpretations throughout the 20th century.
  • Two or three low budget documentaries have been made about the battle, employing 'corporate' video production values. One title ('The Battle of Edgehill', being part of the 'History of Warfare' DVD series. 1998) features a deployment plan with both armies seemingly relating at a slightly clockwise angle to the escarpment, while the featured commentator stands on Langdon lane suggesting it is probably where the Parliamentarian left cavalry were approximately located at the start of the battle.
  • Skippon's (re-enactment) regiment - Displayed at public events: (including 2011 and 2012 …).
    A very broad frontage (potentially over 4.7km in width when including the Royalist Dragoons). The Royalist infantry is shown deployed in the Swedish style.
  • The respected 'British Civil Wars Project' website features a wide deployment plan.