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Civil War artillery fieldwork 370m NNW of Park Farm, Cornbury Park

A Scheduled Monument in Cornbury and Wychwood, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8621 / 51°51'43"N

Longitude: -1.4829 / 1°28'58"W

OS Eastings: 435702.012729

OS Northings: 218299.950316

OS Grid: SP357182

Mapcode National: GBR 6TT.9WJ

Mapcode Global: VHBZP.7GWB

Entry Name: Civil War artillery fieldwork 370m NNW of Park Farm, Cornbury Park

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1949

Last Amended: 9 September 1993

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011225

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21783

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Cornbury and Wychwood

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire


The monument includes a well-preserved English Civil War artillery emplacement
known as a fieldwork or battery, situated on a slope overlooking the River
Evenlode, 370m NNW of Park Farm, Cornbury.
The fieldwork has a bank, outer ditch and counter scarp bank on the west, east
and south sides, defining a square area c.32m across. It is not known whether
the north side of the monument was defined by similar earthworks or whether
this was originally open. Where visible, the inner bank measures
between 4m and 6m across and stands up to 1m above the original ground level.
The ditch is between 5m and 6m wide and, although partially infilled, measures
up to 1m deep on the south side. The counterscarp bank survives on all three
sides and is between 2m and 3m wide and 0.5m high. The southern inner bank is
pierced in two places where gun embrasures were located. These embrasures
allowed guns to be fired across the ditch from the safety of the protected
inner platform. The western embrasure is still clearly visible while the
eastern one has been widened and the bank material dumped into the ditch to
form a modern entrance to the site.
Within the interior is a hollow depression 18.2m across from east-west and 10m
across from north-south. This depression has suffered some erosion of its
sides but is c.1.5m deep. This is believed to represent an area quarried to
provide extra material for the banks protecting the battery, and also to add
protection to the centre of the fieldwork where vulnerable stores of gunpowder
and other ordnance would have been kept.
The fieldwork is situated on a slope overlooking the River Evenlode on its
eastern flank and a former entrance to Cornbury Park to the west and provides
a field of fire across the approaches to the estate from the south and the two
crossings of the River Evenlode.
Historically, Cornbury House is known to have been owned by the Royalist Henry
Danvers, Earl of Danby, who was a determined supporter of the king despite the
strong Parliamentarian allegiance of his brother Sir John Danby. Although the
history of the period is unclear until the estate was occupied for Parliament
by Fairfax in October 1646, it appears that a Royalist garrison was present in
the park and would have formed an important strong-point between two
important communication routes from Oxford; these were used by the king in
1644 and 1645. Cornbury would have provided an outer defence to the north
of Oxford, along with Woodstock Manor House and Bletchingdon Manor.
Some 250m south of the battery is a series of more extensive earthworks, which
form the subject of a separate scheduling. Together these monuments appear to
form part of an extensive system of fortifications around Cornbury House.
Excluded from the scheduling are the boundary fences to the north, west and
south of the monument where they fall within the area of the scheduling but
the ground beneath all of these fences is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

English Civil War fieldworks are earthworks which were raised during military
operations between 1642 and 1645 to provide temporary protection for infantry
or to act as gun emplacements. The earthworks, which may have been reinforced
with revetting and palisades, consisted of banks and ditches and varied in
complexity from simple breastworks to complex systems of banks and inter-
connected trenches. They can be recognised today as surviving earthworks or as
crop- or soil-marks on aerial photographs. The circumstances and cost of their
construction may be referred to in contemporary historical documents.
Fieldworks are recorded widely throughout England with concentrations in the
main areas of campaigning. Those with a defensive function were often sited to
protect settlements or their approaches. Those with an offensive function were
designed to dominate defensive positions and to contain the besieged areas.
There are some 150 surviving examples of fieldworks recorded nationally. All
examples which survive well and/or represent particular forms of construction
are identified as nationally important.
The artillery fieldwork in Cornbury Park has survived remarkably well and
provides the best known published example of its type. It has remained largely
intact and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to
its construction and the landscape in which it was built. In addition, it
forms part of a larger system of fortifications which extend beyond Cornbury
Park to provide a line of defences north of Oxford, the king's headquarters
during much of the Civil War.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Varley, F J, Siege of Oxford
O'Neil, B H S, 'Oxoniensia' in A Civil War Battery at Cornbury Oxfordshire, , Vol. X, (1945), pp73-77
Toynbee, MR, 'Oxoniensia' in Historical Note, , Vol. X, (1945), p77
Title: Ordnance Survey 6" XXV, NE
Source Date: 1945

Vertical's, R.C.H.M.(E) National Library of Air Photo's, Numerous, (1945)

Source: Historic England

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