English Civil War defences found at Brandon Hill

More English Civil War defences have been found at Brandon Hill. The results of a geophysical survey carried out last month have revealed an underground ditch near the remains of Water Fort.

English Civil War defences found at Brandon Hill
Sondage across English Civil War ditch showing steep sides and flat base
[Credit: © Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery]
More than 30 people, including children from nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital Junior School, enjoyed an educational walk organised by the Friends of Brandon Hill and led by the city council's senior archaeology officer Peter Insole.

Geophysical surveys, using electrical currents to identify underground structures and their depths, were carried out. And computer-generated pictures were built up using technology from archaeology company Archeoscan.

The most significant findings came from surveys carried out by the children at the south end of Brandon Hill, near where Water Fort once stood.

The results stated: "The survey has detected a large area of low resistance that is likely to relate to the ditch for the English Civil War defences as depicted on historic plans.

"Also detected is a very regular angle of high resistance, presumably a later structure, possibly a concrete feature from the Second World War or later."

Mr Insole said Brandon Hill would have been a key defensive asset during the civil war due to the lie, and position, of the land.

Water Fort, located at the foot of the south side of the hill, was built in 1642 as part of the defensive line protecting the northern side of Bristol.

Mr Insole said: "Without the trees and buildings, you would have a brilliant view of the river and been able to see any ships coming up. The idea of the archaeology day was to raise awareness, because a lot of people do not realise the city has even got these English Civil War defences. They see the humps and bumps on the ground but do not put the two things together.

"The English Civil War played a major part in Bristol's history. And Brandon Hill is one of the places where you can come and see that. There were two sieges on the city, which a lot of people do not realise. We try to encourage community involvement in learning about Bristol's rich heritage."

The surviving fort and earthworks on Brandon Hill are part of a scheduled ancient monument. The ditches that used to be in place are believed to have been 10ft to 15ft deep, and the walls behind them rose many feet above the ground.

Heritage interpretation specialist Ruth Coleman, who took part in the day, said: "This is the first time we have had a geophysical survey of Brandon Hill.

"The beauty of it is that you can find out what is underneath the ground without invading or excavating it."

Angela Stansbie, a Friend of Brandon Hill, said: "The information from the survey will inform our future work on the hill, with the hope that one day there will be a heritage-conservation management plan and possibly more funding to preserve the fortifications."

Source: Bristol Post [November 07, 2013]

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