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Stow on the Wold

Where was the Battle of Stow fought?

The historical importance of the battle far outweighs its scale, but public awareness of the battle is limited and there is little information for visitors to the town of the events that occurred on that day. The location of the battle has been thrown into doubt in recent years. The site was initially registered by English Heritage in 1995 around the ridge lying to the west of the village of Donnington about two miles north of the centre of Stow, A monument (left) has been erected by the residents of Donnington village next to a public right of way. An attempt to enable improved access to this site from the adjacent road revealed that work sponsored by the Battlefields Trust provided a strong case for the site actually lying some distance to the south. English Heritage had independently reached this conclusion in an unpublished 1999 redraft of the original battlefield registration. The Stow Civic Society questioned the Battlefield Trust's interpretation of the location of the battlefield and the Trust proposed a survey to find the battlefield with supporting interpretation and learning. With the major advances over the last decade in battlefield archaeology, the Stow problem is ripe for resolution.

No previous survey of the battlefield archaeology is known to have taken place. There are reports of musket balls having been collected with a metal detector in fields to the west of Donnington village in the latter part of the 20th Century but it is judged that the intensity of collection was such as not to seriously damage the evidence on the site. The Corinium Museum in Cirencester holds a cannon ball said to come from the Stow battlefield, but its provenance is unknown along with the precise location of its discovery. The proposed survey is the subject of a £50,000 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Permission has been obtained from the landowners and a considerable amount of local interest has been aroused through the local media. A very successful event was held in Stow, with visiting speakers from the Battlefields Trust accompanied by members of the Sealed Knot battle re-enactment society.

The project aims to accurately locate the events of the battle in their contemporary landscape using the modern techniques of battlefield archaeology, which have recently been so effective in locating the site of the lost battlefield of Bosworth (1485) and of enabling the detailed interpretation of the battles at Edgehill (1642) and Culloden (1746). The project will be overseen and supported by professional archaeologists and subject matter experts working with The Battlefields Trust, the Stow Civic Society, amateur metal detectorists and local volunteers.

At the time of writing the outcome of the bid is not known. It is expected in mid August 2011, and, if successful, the work will commence later in the autumn.