Musket balls and sword hilts found at site of the Battle of Worcester

Musket balls, sword hilts and belt buckles discovered at the site of the Battle of Worcester reveal the first EVER physical evidence of the fight which ended the English Civil War

  • Battle of Worcester was between Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II  
  • Fought on 3 September 1651 it marked an end to the English Civil War 
  • Battle was fought to contest the monarchy’s belief it was divinely appointed  
  • Archaeological dig has now unearthed the first physical evidence of the fight 

Remnants from the final battle in the English Civil War have been uncovered for the first time. 

A host of items, including musket balls, horse harness fittings and belt buckles were found during a dig at the site in Powick, Worcestershire.

It has long been known to be the site of the famous battle which saw Charles II defeated by Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads but this marks the first physical evidence.

Analysis of the artefacts from the 1651 battle will now be conducted to see if the 350-year-old items reveal any more secrets.    

Remnants from the final battle in the English Civil War have been uncovered for the first time. A host of items, including musket balls (pictured), were found  

Battle of Worcester artefacts unearthed for first time at the field which has long been known to be where the battle was contested (pictured)

The battle was contested between the English monarchy, the cavaliers who believed in the divine right and rule of the king, and Oliver Cromwell’s government. 

Roadworks at the Worcester Southern Link Road site made the dig possible near the Powick Church, still scarred by the battle’s bullets.  

The find totalled 98 individual items which were buried deep at the bottom of a river valley.

They had been covered by centuries of flood deposits and sediment but archaeologists sifted through the soil to find the precious pieces of English history.  

‘We are just outside the registered battlefield area but this is still a nationally significant site,’ said Worcestershire County Council lead archaeologist Richard Bradley.

‘The construction work has given us the opportunity to investigate the floodplain across which thousands of infantry and cavalry engaged, and to get down to the level where artefacts were deposited.’

WHAT WAS THE CIVIL WAR OF 1642 – 1660? 

The war stemmed from an issue initially focusing on the argument over the divine right of the monarchy to rule the nation. 

Charles I believed he had the god given right to rule and would not accept parliament’s view to the contrary.

The King believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, particularly the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical monarch. 

As a result, the English revolution was of the King against the people, not the other way round, as popularly supposed. 

Parliament had the initial advantage, with access to more resources than the exiled King, who fled to Nottingham to accrue forces. 

Many Englishmen had an attachment to the ruler, and did not wish to see him fall for fear of usurpation.

A spate of battles littered the next decade and a bit between the  Parliamentarians (‘Roundheads’) and Royalists (‘Cavaliers’).

The civil war is divided mainly into three sections, the first spanned from 1642 to 1646 and the second  involved the years 1648 to 1649.

This pitted the supporters of King Charles I against the supporters of the Long Parliament, while the third (1649–1651) saw fighting between supporters of King Charles II and supporters of the Rump Parliament.

In 1646 the Royalists were defeated and Charles subsequently surrendered to the Scots and he later escaped to the Isle of Wight a year later.

Charles was put on trial for treason by a number of MPs, including Parliamentarian general Oliver Cromwell.

He was convicted and later executed on January 30 1649 by beheading outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall in London.   

The execution was met with a groan from the crowd, and even Oliver Cromwell is said to have visited the corpse the next day, decrying its ‘cruel necessity’.

The Scots harboured his son, Charles, then 18-years-old, and crowned him as King Charles II. 

In the summer of 1651 they marched him south in a bid to conquer England. 

The war ended with Parliamentarian victory, headed by Cromwell. at the Battle of Worcester on 3 September 1651.

Charles II fled the battle field and spent the night in an oak in the grounds of Boscobel house in Staffordshire, before escaping to France. 

Pubs all across the country were, and still are, named the Royal oak in honour of this event, and the final end to the English Civil War.  

Roadworks at the Worcester Southern Link Road site made the dig possible near the Powick Church, still scarred by the battle’s bullets. The find totalled 98 individual items which were buried deep at the bottom of a river valley

A variety of items are now being sent for analysis to learn more about their origin. This includes horse harness fittings (bottom left), potential decorative items (bottom right), a lead cap from a powder charge (top right) and musket balls (top left)

The English Civil War was a bleak period of history which saw the execution of a king and the country at war with him , and then his son. Worcester saw the final decisive action which ended in defeat for Charles II and the Scottish Army marching him south to take the throne

Charles II fled the battle field (pictured) and spent the night in an oak in the grounds of Boscobel house in Staffordshire, before escaping to France

‘Many of the lead musket and pistol balls show evidence of firing or impact and these tangible signs of the conflict offer a poignant connection to the soldiers who fought and died here.’ 

The English Civil War was a bleak period of history which saw the execution of a king and the country at war with him , and then his son. 

Worcester saw the final decisive action which ended in defeat for Charles II and the Scottish Army marching him south to take the throne. 

He was crowned by the Scots at the age of 18 after his father, Charles I, was executed in London on January 30 1649.

Charles II fled the battle field and spent the night in an oak in the grounds of Boscobel house in Staffordshire, before escaping to France. 

Pubs all across the country were, and still are, named the Royal oak in honour of this event, and the final end to the English Civil War.   

WHO WAS KING CHARLES I?

King Charles I was born in Fife, Scotland, in 1600 and became king in 1625 following the death of his older brother Henry.

The new monarch favoured a High Anglican form of worship and his wife, Henrietta Maria of France, was Catholic. 

After his succession, Charles quarrelled with Parliament, which sought to curb his royal prerogative. 

The King believed in the divine right of kings and thought he could govern according to his own conscience. Many of his subjects opposed his policies, particularly the levying of taxes without parliamentary consent, and perceived his actions as those of a tyrannical monarch. 

He went on to dissolve parliament three times from 1625 to 1629 and decided to rule alone.

This meant the king was left to try and raise funds by non-parliamentary means, which made him unpopular with the British public. He also tried to force a new prayer book on the country.

King Charles visited Bramsill House in 1630, while under pressure from his subjects following his repeated clashes with Parliament. 

King Charles I (with his wife Queen Henrietta Maria) was born in Fife, Scotland, and became king when he was 24 years old 

The King, on January 4, 1642, tried personally to arrest five MPs for treason. he entered the Commons accompanied by armed men and the Speaker of the time, William Lenthal, vacated the chair for the monarch. 

However, he refused to give up the MPs and famously remarked ‘May it please your majesty, I have neither eyes to see not tongue to speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct e, whose servant I am here’.

The MPs fed, Charles declared ‘all my birds have flown’, and he retreated. he was to be the last monarch to ever enter the chamber.    

The result, was the outbreak of civil war after more than 150 years.  

In 1646 the Royalists were defeated and Charles subsequently surrendered to the Scots and he later escaped to the Isle of Wight a year later.

Charles was put on trial for treason by a number of MPs, including Parliamentarian general Oliver Cromwell.

He was convicted and later executed outside the Banqueting House on Whitehall in London.   

 

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