Ancient Monuments

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Civil War battery at Clayton's Way

A Scheduled Monument in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire

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Latitude: 52.3343 / 52°20'3"N

Longitude: -0.1704 / 0°10'13"W

OS Eastings: 524761.095901

OS Northings: 272268.408401

OS Grid: TL247722

Mapcode National: GBR J2P.RQ6

Mapcode Global: VHGLX.0L8C

Entry Name: Civil War battery at Clayton's Way

Scheduled Date: 22 May 1967

Last Amended: 30 August 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015008

English Heritage Legacy ID: 27166

County: Cambridgeshire

Civil Parish: Huntingdon

Built-Up Area: Huntingdon

Traditional County: Huntingdonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Huntingdon St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Ely


The monument includes the remains of a small rectangular gun emplacement or
fieldwork, now situated in a green space within a 1960s housing develoment,
but formerly located in open pasture overlooking a gentle slope towards the
Hartford Road and the River Great Ouse c.100m to the south east.

The earthwork platform, formerly known as the `Tortoise Mound', is orientated
north east to south west, broadly parallel to the road and river. It measures
14m by 9m, with a shallow depression across the centre of the longer axis
(perhaps formed by the movement of the gun tail) and slight triangular
projections at each corner. The platform is surrounded by a shallow, partly
in-filled ditch measuring 3m in width and between 0.4m and 0.6m in depth. This
is spanned by a narrow causeway of uncertain date in the centre of the north
eastern side.
A small trench was excavated across the ditch in the mid 1930s, and a number
of artefacts from a wide range of periods were recovered. The Neolithic worked
flints, Roman and medieval potsherds are all thought to have been disturbed
from the ground surface during the earthwork's construction; whereas a
quantity of iron nails and clamps were considered to relate to its period of
use during the Civil War.
The gun emplacement is well placed to provide a clear field of fire across the
river and the Hartford Road (the main road leading into Huntingdon from the
north east), thereby controlling two of the major communication routes into
the town. Apart from one very brief episode of Royalist occupation in August
1645, Huntingdon was held by the Eastern Association of the Parliamentarian
forces throughout the war. The gun emplacement may have been constructed
during the development of the Ouse as a military frontier in the early part of
the conflict (1642-3), or in the aftermath of the Royalist occupation of
Huntingdon when all the bridges and fords across the Ouse from Earith to
Eynesbury were fortified against the king's return.
A double bank formerly ran across the pasture between the gun emplacement and
the road, perhaps designed to serve as an infantry breastwork for the defence
of the gun itself. This feature has since been overlain by new housing, and is
not included in the scheduling.
The fence which runs along the outer edge of the ditch on the north western
side of the monument is excluded from the scheduling although the ground
beneath is included.

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

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 fieldwork at Clayton's Way is well preserved, retaining details of its
construction and illustrating its purpose, controlling the main communication
routes approaching Huntingdon from the north east. The platform will contain
buried evidence for the position and siting of the cannon, and the silts of
the surrounding ditch will contain various discarded artefacts relating to its
operation. The siting of the fieldwork illustrates the importance of the River
Great Ouse as part of the military frontier of the Eastern Association. The
fieldwork, in conjunction with the reuse of the medieval castle at Huntingdon
(part of which was remodelled as a battery and is the subject of a separate
scheduling), is one of the two remaining monuments reflecting the defence of
the town during the Civil War.
The monument is accessible to the public.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Taylor, C C, Fieldwork in Medieval Archaeology, (1974), 64
25th January (article on excavation), Lowerison, B, Peterborough Advertiser, (1935)
Antiquity Notes in SMR 2547, FDC, Ordnance Survey Revisor's Notes, (1970)
lecture notes (Cambs SMR), Baggs, T, The Civil War in East Anglia, (1980)
RCHM(E), An Inventory of the Monuments of Huntingdonshire, (1926)
Survey report (text & plans), RCHM(E), Huntingdon Castle: Motte And Baileys, (1986)

Source: Historic England

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