Archaeologists from the University of Central Lancashire have completed a two-week dig near Newark to investigate a 370-year-old civil war site.

A redoubt — a 15metre square earthwork at Crankley Lakes Camping and Caravan Park, near South Muskham — is a scheduled ancient monument and is thought to have been used as a cannon battery by Scots assailing the town during its third siege in 1645, when the Royalist outpost was surrounded by 16,000 troops.

The site, bounded by a grassy ditch, is part of the best-preserved network of military earthworks from the period surviving anywhere in the UK.

Dig leader Dr Rachel Askew said: “There are 12 scheduled sites locally, including the Queen’s Sconce, which is amazing when so much has been lost elsewhere.

“But there have been few archaeological investigations to see what’s really there so this is a great opportunity to expand our knowledge.

“So far we have recovered drinking vessels and ceramics from the 17th Century, which is encouraging.

“It shows that there has been intensive use of the site at the right time.

“It is quite a distance from central Newark, so it is possible the battery was built to protect the Great North Road and cut off all hope of rescue for the beleaguered Royalists.”


Discovery potentially 'of national significance'

The museum owns an original siege plan drawn up by a Royalist engineer that plots many of the military earthworks around Newark.

Dr Askew and her colleagues tested another theory that the redoubt was built over a century earlier on the orders of Henry VIII.

University of Central Lancashire students Mark Denham and (right) Adam Sowden busy at work in a trench. 170517DD1-12
University of Central Lancashire students Mark Denham and (right) Adam Sowden busy at work in a trench. 170517DD1-12

It is known that the monarch ordered defences to be built around Newark to protect the Great North Road and River Trent during the rebellion against his religious reforms called the Pilgrimage of Grace.

“We have also found pottery from that period on site and if we could prove the Henry VIII link that would be an amazing discovery of national significance,” Dr Askew said.

Permission for the excavation was given by the landowner and Historic England, which is responsible for protecting ancient monuments.

Local metal detectorist Ken Burrell has also worked with the archaeologists to ensure metal objects like cannon balls are not missed.