Registered Battlefields

Historic battlefields

The Historic England Register of Historic Battlefields identifies forty-six important English battlefields. Its purpose is to offer them protection and to promote a better understanding of their significance. Each Register entry is based on the available evidence and includes a map of the battlefield area showing the position of the armies and features which were part of the original battleground. These maps are intended to be the starting point for battlefield conservation and interpretation by identifying the most visually sensitive areas. 

The selection criteria Historic England use for historic battlefield designation is available at

https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/selection-criteria/battlefield-selection/

The Importance of Battlefields - Battlefields are significant in five ways:

  • As turning-points in English history, for example the Norman Conquest which followed the Battle of Hastings in 1066, or the turmoil of the Civil Wars in the seventeenth century which changed the roles of monarchy and parliament.
  • The reputations of great political and military leaders were frequently built on battlefield success.
  • Tactics and skills of war still relevant to the defence of the country evolved on historic battlefields.
  • Battlefields are the final resting places for thousands of unknown soldiers, nobles and commoners alike, whose lives were sacrificed in the making of the history of England.
  • Where they survive, battlefields may contain important topographical and archaeological evidence which can increase our understanding of the momentous events of history which took place on their soil.

Registered Battlefields in South Somerset

The only site in South Somerset is that relating to the battle of Langport of 1645. The description is as follows:

 Langport

Between: Royalists and Parliamentarians

1645

Parishes: Pitney, Huish Episcopi

NGR: ST 441274

The Civil Wars of the mid seventeenth century were a reflection of profound political, constitutional, religious and social conflict which was expressed in a struggle for control between King and Parliament.

Under pressure from the victorious New Model Army after Naseby, a Royalist army under General George Goring looked to retreat from its position at Langport to relative safety in Bridgewater. The Royalists attempted a delaying action positioning themselves on high ground outside Langport.

The Parliamentarians advanced, attacking the Royalists guarding the crossing point of the valley. Once taken, the crossing allowed the Parliamentarian cavalry to charge on General Goring forces. The Royalists crumbled and fled for safety, having failed to delay the New Model Army to any great extent.

The defeat at Langport was more damaging to the Royalists' morale than to their numbers. Langport soon fell, allowing Parliament to battle up the Royalist supporters in the south west. The New Model Army continued its successful campaign.

The landscape of the battle was one of irregular hedged enclosures with pasture in the wet valley bottom and open arable fields on the slopes above. Not until 1799 was the land divided into the regular, straight-sided fields of today. A high railway embankment bisects the battlefield but does not affect the crucial locations.

More information on the Battle of Langport from the Battlefields Trust