Despite popular perception, sieges (not battles) dominated the English Civil Wars. And whilst a 17th century skirmish or battle could last just a few hours, a siege would last for days, weeks or even months. Thus, an archaeological investigation of a siege-site has the potential to offer far more than that of a battlefield. Yet, such investigations are uncommon.
This very fact has attracted a team of conflict archaeologists and military historians to set up a project to investigate an English Civil War siege-site. The King's Lynn under Siege English Civil War Archaeological Project (‘KLuS’) is the result.
But why King’s Lynn?
King’s Lynn played a prominent, yet overlooked, role in the English Civil War: indeed, the siege of the town during the late summer of 1643 marked a turning point of the entire war. A recent article explores the history of the town’s role during the 1640s [CLICK HERE TO VIEW]. This article first appeared in the summer 2021 issue of Battlefield (Volume 26 Issue 1) - the magazine of the Battlefields Trust and is reproduced here with their permission.
375 years on, traces of the town’s civil war can still be found. Therefore, from a conflict archaeology perspective, where a siege leaves a far greater archaeological footprint than any battle, King’s Lynn offers considerable potential.
KLuS is a long-term community-based archaeological research project involving professionals, academics, students, volunteers and local communities that will deploy a full range of techniques and approaches to the understanding of the lived human experience of the English Civil Wars and its impact upon the people and fabric of King’s Lynn.
The specific aims of the project include:
Since its formation in January 2018, the project has firmly established itself in the local historic ‘landscape’, and has raised the profile of King’s Lynn’s importance during the conflict both locally and nationally.
Since its formation, KLuS has:
Since January 2020, the project has been investigating the site of the north-east bastion, and whilst progress was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has at last returned outside.
In September 2021, the first excavation of the north-east bastion site took place as part of Channel 4’s Great British Dig series. This was very successful and vindicated the project’s research to date. The programme is expected to be broadcast in early 2022.
We will be returning to the north-east bastion site between 17th and 29th July to undertake further excavations. To participate, please visit https://www.sharp.org.uk/product-page/king-s-lynn-under-siege-english-civil-war-archaeological-project.
Other activities are being planned for 2022, culminating in participation in the town’s heritage weekend in September. E-mail us (below) to find out more.
KLuS is a project rooted in the community and to get involved in this exciting project or just to find out more, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
View our newsletters:
1-April 2018 2-June 2018 3-September 2018 4-December 2018 5-July 2019
King's Lynn Geophysics Report
[Photograph acknowledgements: David Flintham and Kevin Elfleet]