Ancient Monuments

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Napoleonic practice redoubt and later practice trenches on Wagbullock Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Crowthorne, Bracknell Forest

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Latitude: 51.3799 / 51°22'47"N

Longitude: -0.7705 / 0°46'13"W

OS Eastings: 485662.348648

OS Northings: 165259.890144

OS Grid: SU856652

Mapcode National: GBR D86.J06

Mapcode Global: VHDX9.LLJ0

Entry Name: Napoleonic practice redoubt and later practice trenches on Wagbullock Hill

Scheduled Date: 24 October 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016333

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28180

County: Bracknell Forest

Civil Parish: Crowthorne

Traditional County: Berkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Berkshire

Church of England Parish: Easthampstead

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes one of a series of practice redoubts, constructed in
1792, in a 2km long line running north west-east along the edge of a
plateau formerly known as Easthamstead Plain. The redoubt lies on the summit
of Wagbullock Hill and is connected with a series of later trenches which
originally enclosed the whole hill top.
The redoubt includes an earthen bank and ditch forming a military fieldwork
measuring 46m across and roughly square in plan. It is enclosed by an open
ditch measuring up to 2m wide and roughly 1m deep, although now partly
infilled with leaf litter. Immediately inside the ditch stands a low earthen
bank 1m high externally and 0.5m high internally.
The trenches are a later feature, probably associated with troop training
during the Boer War and consist of a single line of hand dug trenches with the
earth thrown up to form a slight rampart on the outside (down slope). They are
now partly infilled but measure between 0.75m and 1.5m wide, and were
originally up to 1m deep. The ramparts are no longer visible along the entire
circuit, but where they survive these measure about 0.6m high and 0.7m wide.
The site also shows evidence of more recent fox holes as well as the reuse of
some of the features during training associated with World Wars I and II.

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

Easthamstead Plain, the heathland plateau between Bracknell and Crowthorne, in
1792 was the scene of large scale military manoeuvres which have left an
unusual combination of physical traces, and which appear to be unique in
England. The exercises were designed to allow the Army to test its new
Handbook of Military Manoeuvres, whilst sending signals of strength to
continental Europe in the aftermath of the French Revolution. They boosted
morale in an Army still shocked by its defeat at the hands of revolutionaries
in the American War of Independence, and demonstrated the Crown's ability to
maintain order in the event of any Republican unrest in Britain.
The manoeuvres lasted from 23 July to 8 August 1792. They adopted the strategy
of building infantry or artillery redoubts as part of defensive lines behind
which infantry squares and cavalry could be deployed. In essence, this was the
strategy later used successfully by Wellington, notably at Waterloo. At
Easthamstead Plain, the Army practised attacking a defensive line including
eight specially constructed earthwork redoubts. The surviving redoubts are the
only documented examples in England of a full battlefield defensive system of
the Napoleonic period, equivalent in significance to the slightly later Royal
Military Canal in Kent which was built to oppose the anticipated French
invasion. They are therefore all considered to be of national importance and
worthy of protection.

The redoubt on Wagbullock Hill survives in the form of earthworks and buried
deposits. The later trenches, which are believed to date to the period of the
Boer War, provide evidence of a further phase of military training activity.

Source: Historic England

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