Home   Whats On   Article

Subscribe Now

King’s Lynn Under Siege: shown in Channel 4’s The Great British Dig, lecture on English Civil War town defences

Fortifications constructed in Lynn during the English Civil War far surpass those of all the other English towns in the same period, and that includes London.

“None of them, and 152 were fortified in all, matches the sophistication of those at King’s Lynn,” says David Flintham, project director of King’s Lynn Under Siege who will be presenting the data his research has garnered at the annual Diana Bullock Memorial Lecture on March 22.

David Flintham, project director of King’s Lynn Under Siege
David Flintham, project director of King’s Lynn Under Siege

Organised by King’s Lynn Town Guides, David’s talk will bring together years of research including recent visits to defensive schemes throughout Britain, the west coast of Ireland and the Isle of Man. “I have had to look as far away as the Netherlands to find schemes that are comparable to those in King’s Lynn, such is their uniqueness,” he says.

“Instead of being regarded as something of a footnote to the history of the conflict, King’s Lynn should be fundamental to any study of the fortifications and sieges of the English Civil Wars. If this were not enough, the investigations at King’s Lynn are suggesting a method of rampart-construction that has been something of a mystery to fortress historians for a long time.”

Today the fortifications are hardly discernible, as anyone who saw C4’s programme, The Great British Dig, will appreciate, but the lecture will tell another story with illustrations of ramparts well over 11m wide and an estimated 5m high.

King’s Lynn Under Siege: Lynn defences
King’s Lynn Under Siege: Lynn defences

“Charges are not uncommon that fortifications constructed during the English Civil War were simplistic. But as with any generalisation, there are always exceptions and there are none more marked than King’s Lynn,” explains David. “They were formidable. And a revelation to those of us fortunate to have been part of the investigation.

“Following their capture of Lynn in 1643, the Parliamentary party took steps to repair and improve the existing defences, surrounding the town with a completely new line of fortifications including between the South Gate and the River Ouse, and as these were free from the constraints of what went before, the latest techniques could be utilised.

“Designed by Richard Clampe, the construction was state-of-the-art, and amongst the most modern and sophisticated built anywhere in Britain during the entire period, transforming King’s Lynn into the strongest fortress in East Anglia. Thus the town is of national, perhaps even international importance.”

This year, 2023, is the 380th anniversary of the siege, and it is hoped to mark this in some way. Plans are currently being made for further archaeological investigations during both 2023 and 2024.

David Flintham is the co-founder and project director of the King’s Lynn Under Siege community archaeology project, featured on C4’s The Great British Dig. The author of three books, and more than 60 other papers, essays and articles on mid-17th century fortress warfare, he is also part of a research project ‘re-discovering’ London’s English Civil War fortifications. A long-time member of the Fortress Study Group, he now serves on its committee.

The annual Diana Bullock Memorial Lecture aims to present unusual and little-known aspects of Lynn’s history to a wider audience, as will be the case with this talk, which will be at the town hall.

Tickets at £9 are available from King’s Lynn Tourist Information Centre (01553 763044) and on the door or from Pam Kirby on 01553 776632.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More