Civil War battery at Clayton's Way


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015008

Date first listed: 22-May-1967

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Aug-1996


Ordnance survey map of Civil War battery at Clayton's Way
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cambridgeshire

District: Huntingdonshire (District Authority)

Parish: Huntingdon

National Grid Reference: TL 24761 72268


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

Reasons for Designation

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 The circumstances and cost of their construction may be referred to in contemporary historical documents.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.


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


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.

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: 27166

Legacy System: RSM


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)

End of official listing