Battlefield Archaeology of the English Civil War
by Glenn Foard. xi, 234 pages, illustrated throughout in black and white and colour. BAR 570 2012. ISBN 9781407310442. £49.00.
The present book demonstrates how major advances in the understanding of historic battles can be achieved through the application of the techniques of archaeology alongside those of military history, to exploit these neglected sets of evidence. It also provides examples of how results can be improved through the application of scientific expertise, in fields such as ballistics. It begins with a chronological review of battlefield studies in England, considering the effectiveness of the approaches that have been taken. Building upon this assessment, a detailed methodology is defined which seeks to exploit the full range of evidence that exists for these major historical events. Firstly the techniques for the reconstruction of the historic terrain are described, together with the ways in which the evidence from the primary sources for the battles can be used to place the military events more accurately within this context. As military history and landscape archaeology are well developed areas of research, their methodologies can be applied with little further development. It then shows how the hypotheses developed in such work can be validated and enhanced through analysis of the physical evidence left by the battles themselves. Because battle archaeology has received such limited attention in England there is a detailed discussion of the methodology for systematic survey of battle archaeology using metal detectors. However, given that lead bullets are the main form of archaeological evidence recovered from early modern battles, it is their analysis that forms the centre piece of this study. Finally the effectiveness of the whole methodology is demonstrated through a major new field investigation and documentary study of the terrain, battle archaeology and military history of the battle of Edgehill.