Leese, Richard Jeffrey (2020) Siege Archaeology of the English Civil Wars: Establishing a methodology to unlock the archaeology of attack and defence at early modern siege sites. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

It is a little over thirty years since modern battlefield studies began the serious investigation of unstratified archaeology for what it could tell us about historic battles. In those three decades the field has grown in breadth of time periods opened to investigation through new methodologies, and in the depth of investigation into the archaeology for what it can tell us about subjects such as weapon development, the historic terrain and evolving methods of warfare. Nevertheless, conflict archaeology for the early modern period has thus far failed to apply the methodological developments made in the study of historic battles to an exploration of siege actions.

This thesis seeks to address this imbalance of focus upon battles, and by developing a methodology for the investigation of siege actions. To achieve this the research has focussed on defining the criteria of action for investigation, and examining existing siege site studies for what aspect of siege evidence are yet to be explored as part of a siege study, specifically the unstratified finds of the siege action, the impact scars on surviving structures, and the remnants of impacted projectiles. An overview and rapid assessment of the extent of the national resource of siege sites available for examination was compiled, selecting several candidates for specific investigation, and one candidate with suitable criteria to serve as a case study survey, Moreton Corbet Castle, Salop. Examination of impact scar evidence required a detailed investigation of scars across a multitude of sites, and the development of a low-cost recording and analytical methodology for these features. Questions arising from scar investigation drove a set of ballistic experiments for impacts against stone targets, identifying further research opportunities for developing understanding of bullet impacts on stone targets. The penultimate chapter focuses on the Moreton Corbet survey, which entailed a combined documentary and archaeological investigation, incorporating examination of impact scar evidence, metal detector survey, and an attempt to develop a methodology for the recovery of impacted bullet fragments. The outcome of the study showed that there are opportunities and benefits to conducting intensive surveys for interpreting small-scale siege locations, even where the contemporary documentary evidence is limited in comparison to battles of the same period. The same study also identifies risks to the archaeology at similar sites owing to the unprotected status of the archaeological scatter, the ignorance towards impact scars as archaeological features, and the difficulty with developing strategies towards management of heritage sites where existing protections of the archaeology prevent new data from being obtained.

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