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Civil War defences in Bury Field

A Scheduled Monument in Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes

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Latitude: 52.0881 / 52°5'17"N

Longitude: -0.7242 / 0°43'27"W

OS Eastings: 487510.243154

OS Northings: 244075.147857

OS Grid: SP875440

Mapcode National: GBR CZR.3Q7

Mapcode Global: VHDSV.DSJ3

Entry Name: Civil War defences in Bury Field

Scheduled Date: 28 February 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021389

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35922

County: Milton Keynes

Civil Parish: Newport Pagnell

Built-Up Area: Newport Pagnell

Traditional County: Buckinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Buckinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Newport Pagnell

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes the partially buried remains of a section of the
earthwork defences built to protect the town of Newport Pagnell during the
Civil War. These defences originally consisted of an enceinte, a continuous
line of defensive ditch and bank encircling the town, accompanied by eight
bastions: `arrowhead' shaped projections constructed at strategic positions
to increase the field of fire. The surviving section of earthwork defences is
sited along the north western edge of the modern town in a field known as
Bury Field, and consists of a length of enceinte, together with the earthwork
remains of two bastions at its north east and south west ends.

The work on the defence of Newport Pagnell is recorded as first taking place
in 1643. This followed the success of Prince Rupert's expedition into
Bedfordshire when the Royalist army were quartered at Towcester, Grafton
Regis and Stony Stratford, as well as the new Royalist outpost at Newport
Pagnell. Under the command of Sir Lewis Dyves work began on fortifying the
town with a bank and a ditch where it was undefended by the rivers. This was
in part to cut Parliament's communications with the north and in part to
secure local food supplies, whilst cutting off London from its supplies in
the east Midlands. Due to mistaken orders, Newport Pagnell was abandoned by
the Royalists and The Earl of Essex dispatched a large army under
Major-General Skippon to seize the town on behalf of the Parliamentarians.
Skippon occupied the town and set about completing the fortifications.
Parliament regarded the defence of Newport Pagnell of enough importance to
grant one thousand pounds for its fortification and garrison in December
1643. In February 1644 Sir Samuel Luke replaced Major-General Skippon as
Governor and set about strengthening the defences, as much had been damaged
by the heavy winter rain. Cornelius Vanden Broome produced a plan of the
defences of Newport Pagnell in 1644 which shows a scale drawing of a
continuous enceinte surrounding the town supported by eight bastions or
`bulworkes'. Two bridges cross the river Great Ouse which meanders around the
eastern edge of the town and a drawbridge protects the main entrance to the
town. The High Street and Marsh Street are marked on the plan, as are the
church and various other buildings, some of which are sited within bastions.
Conditions were very poor throughout Sir Samuel Luke's command of the
garrison and in August 1645 Captain Charles D'Oyley took over as Governer. By
August of 1646 the garrison at Newport Pagnell was disbanded and orders were
given `to slight and demolish' the defences. It appears that this order was
not thoroughly carried out as the fortifications were recorded as still
partly standing in 1648.

The remains of the Civil War defences in Bury Field consist of a north
east-south west aligned section of the ditch, measuring approximately 110m
long, 8m wide and up to 0.6m in depth. The bank on the south east side of the
ditch has been largely levelled (no doubt to fill the ditch) but traces of
its construction are expected to survive. At the very north east end of this
length of enceinte are the remains of the `Mill Hause Bulworcke', one of the
eight bastions marked on Vanden Broome's map. Only the south western edge of
the bastion survives as a shallow north west-south east aligned ditch,
measuring approximately 23m long and up to 10m wide. The ditch, which
represents a continuation of the enceinte, is truncated by a modern drainage
channel surrounding the farm complex of Mill House and cannot be traced
beyond this point. The associated bank is not visible on the surface but
buried traces may survive. At the south west end of the length of enceinte
the ditch changes to a north west-south east direction. This is believed to
represent the site of the bastion known as `Stone Bulworcke' on Vanden
Broome's map. The majority of this bastion has been destroyed by later
quarrying, and only the south eastern corner survives.

The causeway crossing the centre of the ditch and the causeway crossing the
corner at the north east end of the ditch are both believed to be modern. A
shallow depression cut into the ditch is thought to relate to later
quarrying. The remains of medieval/post-medieval cultivation earthworks in
the form of ridge and furrow extend in a north west direction from the
enceinte and a small section between the Mill House and Stone bastions is
included in the scheduling.

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 Civil War defences in Bury Field are represented by a section of
earthwork remains of a continuous enceinte in the form of a ditch and bank
together with the partial remains of two bastions known as` Mill Hause
Bulworcke' and `Stone Bulworcke'. Bastions represented
strong-points located at strategic positions around the town. They would
project forward to give flanking fire both to other bastions and along the
face of the enceinte.

The earthworks may contain buried evidence for reinforcement in the form of
timber or stone revetting and/or lines of palisades either in the ditch or on
the bank. There is a possibility that artefactual or environmental evidence
may survive in the partly buried ditch.

The remains of the Civil War earthworks will provide important information
regarding the history and development of Newport Pagnell during this
important period. It will also provide information on the method of
construction of defences at this time, together with their size in relation
to other Civil War defences both regionally and nationally. That no other
lengths of the Civil War defences of Newport Pagnell are known to survive
makes the section in Bury Field of particular significance.

Source: Historic England


Bucks Co Mus: BP/79 (copy in SMR), M Farley,
Bucks Co Mus:BP/79 (copy in SMR), M Farley,
copy in Milton Keynes SMR, Lamb, G C, Newport Pagnell, (1978)
copy in SMR, Crank, N, Mill House Stable, Mill House, Newport Pagnell, (2000)
R J Ivens, Archaeological Watching Brief at 126, High St. Newport Pagnell, 2001, copy in Milton Keynes SMR
Title: A True Map and Descript. of the Fortification of Newport Pagnell
Source Date: 1644
photocopy in Milton Keynes SMR

Source: Historic England

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