Civil War defences in Bury Field


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021389

Date first listed: 28-Feb-2006


Ordnance survey map of Civil War defences in Bury Field
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Dec-2018 at 11:51:25.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Milton Keynes (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Newport Pagnell

National Grid Reference: SP 87512 44083


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 The circumstances and cost of their construction may be referred to in contemporary historical documents.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


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


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.

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: 35922

Legacy System: RSM


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 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: photocopy in Milton Keynes SMR

End of official listing