Friday, 6 September 2013

Battlefield Visits: One - Naseby

I've not been posting as frequently in recent weeks because I spent the end of June and all of July visiting Britain and Europe. Part of this was work related but I did manage to take four and a half weeks' holiday and indulge myself cycling in France as well as visiting friends and relatives in Britain.

I also contrived to visit four places of English Civil War significance: York, Marston Moor, Chester and Naseby. I'll try and cover these visits in my next few posts.

Like all battlefields (to a greater or lesser extent), Naseby is only interesting if the visitor has a reasonably good understanding of what happened there. This is assisted by some good interpretation material (much of it culled from Osprey publications) that is positioned at key points. This means that an ordinary looking hedgerow assumes much greater importance in the eyes of the visitor. When you know you're looking at Sulby hedges, and in your mind's eye at least you can see Colonel Okey and his dragoons lined up and shooting at the Royalist cavalry, it stops being just another hedgerow.

Above: one of the interpretation boards around the battlefield.

Above: Sulby Hedges looking from behind the New Model Army Dragoons' position

Above: The battlefield looking from the centre of  New Model Army's position at the beginning of the battle- the Royalists were drawn up on the rise behind the hedges in the distance

The battlefield is compact and can be easily traversed by car or bicycle in an afternoon using the network of country lanes in the area. The interpretation sites are invaluable in orientating the visitor and are a big help if you or your companions' knowledge of what happened is sketchy. They were certainly useful for me in explaining it all to my mother as the illustrations on the boards go some way to bringing the scene to life.

My single greatest insight from this visit came from justt how undulating the ground was directly to the rear of the centre of the Royalist's initial position i.e. where the King's infantry made its last stand. With the smoke and confusion of battle, the restricted lines of sight as a consequence of the undulations would have considerably added to the 'friction' that the opposing commanders had to contend with. No surprises if low PIP dice were rolled... 

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