edgehill_monument

A RATING SYSTEM FOR BRITISH BATTLEFIELDS AND MILITARY HERITAGE SITES

Hastings _2006
Hastings 1066 Battlefield. English Heritage property, good walking routes inside and outside the battlefield. Good access by public transport and car.

One of the first things that British Battlefields would like to do is to provide visitors with the information to plan a visit to a battlefield or other military heritage site. We would like to establish a standardised rating system for battlefields that make it easy for the visitor to plan a visit. This isn’t about the significance of the battles themselves, but what is there to see and do there. This information isn’t widely recorded and we would like the help from those who know the area to help to build up this information and keep it up to date.

Battlefields

Very few British Battlefields have an interpretation centre or are marked with information boards or a walking or driving trail. Unlike the exhibits in a museum, the exhibits are scattered over many acres, usually of private property.

edgehill_monument
This view over the registered battlefield of Edeghill shows mrolling countryside, if a little more enclosed than in the C17th. The viewpoint is next to the Castle inn, which until a burglary, held a collection of weapons, pictures and artifacts.

A visitor needs to know what is there to see. Is the battlefield landscape unchanged? Or is it only possible to see the historic landscape, from a single viewpoint with blinkers to hide modern development? Or is there just an information panel on an urban development which once was open country?

This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission
This monument, Also at Edgehill is on MOD land and can only be accessed by the public on rare occasions and with prior permission

How easy is it to drive around the battlefield? Martin Marix Evans told me that the design of the viewing points at Naseby was inspired by the desire to avoid the difficulties experienced by his aged parent walking to the existing monument. It would be useful to know whether someone limited mobility could make a visit to a viewing and interpretation point close to a car park. Is there car parking on site or close by?

Barnet Battlefield 1471 - Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.
Barnet Battlefield 1471 – Kitts Ends alternative site. Open rural landscape. Privately owned with no public access. No facilities. No interpretation and limited parking in a few viewing points. Public transport access by tube to High Barnet (45 min walk or 10 mins bus ride) or rail to Hadley Wood and 30 mins walk. Best access via bicycle.

Is it easy to visit the battlefield by public transport? How far away is the nearest public transport stop?

How easy is it to walk around the battlefield? Is easy walking over foot paths? Or will the visitor expect to want through muddy tracks or over rough ground.

What interpretation exists? Is there a visitor, information panels or a leaflet? Or does the visitor need to read up before the visit or hire a guide to make sense of the ground?

What other facilities exist? Are there any lavatories nearby? Is there somewhere to buy a drink – or shelter from inclement weather?

Museums

turnham3
This information boar at Turnham Green is part of a walking trail around the London borough of Acton and Houndslow. At this point it is possible to look across what was common land one army’s battle-line to the other. Easy access by public transport. Less easy to park in the working week!

The same is also true of much of the other military heritage. Britain has dozens of Regimental museums partially funded by the MOD. There are also corners of municipal museums as well as private and local museums and heritage sites. Their opening hours vary as do the charges. It also helps to know if there are exhibits relating to specific campaigns units and personalities. They vary in their ease of access and their accessibility by car and public transport.

It helps to know who owns the site. Is this somewhere where an English Heritage or CADW membership helps? How expensive is it? Does a visitor need to make a prior appointment?

EXAMPLE RATING

We think it would be a good idea if people interested in military heritage could have a guide to the gems which exist in the countryside and in our many military heritage sites. British Battlefields is recording the information about tourist access for each battlefield. There is a draft scheme on the  page called “rating system,” This uses the tourist attraction map symbols from the 1:25,000 OS maps.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Rating battlefields is quite a large task, and we would like to enlist the help of people with local knowledge.

  • Tell us what you think about the rating system.
  • Send in your rating of your local battlefield or museum.

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