Ancient Monuments

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Earthworks in Spa Roughs Wood

A Scheduled Monument in Lathom, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.5699 / 53°34'11"N

Longitude: -2.807 / 2°48'25"W

OS Eastings: 346653.087465

OS Northings: 408443.896051

OS Grid: SD466084

Mapcode National: GBR 8WV5.20

Mapcode Global: WH86J.VJJM

Entry Name: Earthworks in Spa Roughs Wood

Scheduled Date: 16 June 1964

Last Amended: 7 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014392

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13406

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Lathom

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire

Church of England Parish: Ormskirk St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool


The monument lies in woodland some 900m south east of the present site of
Lathom House. The area is thickly covered with trees and shrubbery
although recent storm damage and on-going tree felling is thinning the
The remains comprise upcast earthwork banks and ditches defining a roughly
square area. In places use has been made of natural features such as a stream
cutting as additional defensive features. A circular flat-topped mound of
uncertain function, but obviously an integral element of the wider earthworks,
occupies the north east corner of the site. A stream flows south-north through
the centre of the site with probable remains of a bridge foundation on its
west bank in the southern part of the site. A track runs east-west through the
southern part of the site with other grass tracks running off it to the north.
The remains have been identified as either a medieval moated site or
Cromwellian fieldworks. The current interpretation of the remains is that they
are a combination of the two, a moated site subsequently besieged during the
Civil War. The earliest Lathom House, which is thought to have been surrounded
by a moat, is documented as being constructed in the latter half of the 15th
century, although an oratory may have occupied the site at least a century
earlier. Subsequently tradition has it that the earthworks known as
`Cromwell's Ditch' or `Cromwell's Trench' were built in 1644 during the siege
of Lathom House, thus providing a protected base from which an assault by
sapping, infantry or gunfire could be mounted.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Around 6,000 moated sites are known in England. They consist of wide ditches,
often or seasonally water-filled, partly or completely enclosing one or more
islands of dry ground on which stood domestic or religious buildings. In some
cases the islands were used for horticulture. The majority of moated sites
served as prestigious aristocratic and seigneurial residences with the
provision of a moat intended as a status symbol rather than a practical
military defence. The peak period during which moated sites were built was
between about 1250 and 1350 and by far the greatest concentration lies in
central and eastern parts of England. However, moated sites were built
throughout the medieval period, are widely scattered throughout England and
exhibit a high level of diversity in their forms and sizes. They form a
significant class of medieval monument and are important for the understanding
of the distribution of wealth and status in the countryside. Many examples
provide conditions favourable to the survival of organic remains.

There are some 150 sites in England identified as fieldworks. A fieldwork is a
temporary structure, built for defensive or offensive use during military
operations and designed to protect infantry and often to act as a gun
emplacement also. They were built of earth, which may have been reinforced
with timber revetting; the defences may sometimes have been strengthened with
palisades etc. Those with a defensive function were sited to protect a feature
such as a town, village, or their approaches, and those with an offensive
function to dominate as far as is possible the defended positions and to
contain the besieged area within a `line of circumvallation'. They were built
widely throughout England during the Civil War and comprise banks and ditches,
from which are formed the types of fieldworks such as enceintes, which are
linear; and strongpoints, being sconces or forts, bastions, cavaliers, and
redoubts, and batteries. The need for fieldworks in England first appeared in
the Civil Wars of 1642-52 and their tradition of construction is generally
restricted to about 25 years only. Fieldworks are unique in representing the
only evidence on the ground of military campaigns fought in England since the
introduction of guns.
The earthworks at this site are well preserved despite the modern tree cover.
The enclosed platform will retain much buried evidence of the structures
formerly located on it. The surrounding ditches, some of which remain
waterlogged, are likely to preserve a range of environmental evidence
including seed and plant remains along with artefactual remains such as wood
and leather.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Broxap, E, The Great Civil War in Lancashire, (1910), 112
Coney, A, Lewis, J, Lathom House, Lathom, Nr Ormskirk. Lancashire, (1990), 1
Coney, A, Lewis, J, Lathom House, Lathom, Nr Ormskirk. Lancashire, (1990), 3
Rutter, Reverend S, Lea, G, Handbook to Ormskirk and the Neighboorhood, (1910), 77-100
Rutter, Reverend S, Lea, G, Handbook to Ormskirk and the Neighboorhood, (1910), 112
Capstick, B, FMW Report (Lathom),
Darvill, T., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Moats, (1988)
Leach, P E, MPP Single Monument Class Description - Fieldworks, (1989)
Lower IV, Holly Lodge Comp. School for Girls, 1:1250 plan - Lathom, (1979)

Source: Historic England

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