Earthworks in Spa Roughs Wood


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1014392

Date first listed: 16-Jun-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Earthworks in Spa Roughs Wood
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Lancashire

District: West Lancashire (District Authority)

Parish: Lathom

County: Lancashire

District: West Lancashire (District Authority)

Parish: Lathom South

National Grid Reference: SD 46651 08440


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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 cover. 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.

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


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13406

Legacy System: RSM


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)

End of official listing