Battlefields Trust Stow-on-the-Wold Survey

Stow survey: metal detectors in action Oct 2015

The location of the battle of Stow on the Wold (1646) is unknown. Historic England registered an area around 2 kilometres north of Stow on a ridge beside the village of Donnington as the battlefield area in 1995, but questioned this in a paper to its Battlefield Panel in 1999.  In order to settle this, the Battlefields Trust wanted to organise a metal detecting survey to find the battlefield’s location.

Stow survey Oct 2015
Stow survey Oct 2015

The survey at Stow was originally conceived as part of a wider Heritage Lottery funded project, but this was rejected by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Alternative finance needed to be found and the Mercia Region of the Battlefields Trust, in which area the battlefield fell, made a grant application to the Arms and Armour Heritage Trust and funding of £2460 was generously made.  A further £500 was set aside from existing regional funds for the project.

The grant was used to purchase a set of surveying equipment – ranging poles, surveyors tape measures, transects and finds marker flags and finds bags.  This set of equipment is now available for wider use in the Battlefields Trust.  It was also used to pay a qualified archaeologist to lead the survey, for accommodation and subsistence for the survey team and to cover travelling expenses.

The survey was conducted in October 2015.  Sample areas several hundred metres in length and breadth were detected at 10m intervals and the finds collected, bagged, marked and location recorded in advance of them being cleaned, measured and recorded on a spreadsheet.

Areas over the possible battlefield area were examined, though no battlefield related finds were discovered over a six day period. This provided useful negative information about the battlefield location and has led to the development of a new hypothesis that the battle was fought much closer to Stow than has hitherto been considered.

Further archaeological work was undertaken in 2018 using the equipment funded by the Arms and Armour Heritage Trust as well as the residual part of the original grant and additional funding from the Battlefields Trust.  This located an area of fighting at Stow and further work is planned to establish whether it represents part of the rout or the initial stand of royalist forces.

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