New theory on civil war's 'forgotten battle'

The Battle of Adwalton Moor has been dubbed the forgotten battle of the English Civil War. But a new book argues its significance has been missed. Joanne Ginley reports.

HISTORIANS have traditionally accorded the Battle of Adwalton Moor regional rather than national significance.

In 1643 at the height of the English Civil War, the Parliamentarians suffered a heavy defeat at Adwalton Moor. The battle, near Birkenshaw, West Yorkshire, left Parliament with only one remaining stronghold in the North, at Hull.

But author David Johnson said that one of his reasons for writing a new book about the battle – usually seen as no more than part of the war in Yorkshire – was to demonstrate that it had major national, political and military repercussions.

He added: "It was also to try to establish the Battle of Adwalton Moor more as one of the major battles of the English Civil War."

On the fields of Adwalton Moor Lord Fairfax's Roundheads were outnumbered 10,000 to 4,000.

Many of the foot soldiers and horsemen that fought in the battle were from Yorkshire, others were from Lancashire and County Durham.

Johnson argues in his book Adwalton Moor: The Battle that Changed a War that the magnitude of the Royalist victory was such that it forced Parliment into a religious and military alliance with Scotland, creating a new balance of power which led directly to the critical Parliamentary victory at Marston Moor a year later in 1644.

At Marston the Royalists lost as many as 3,000 men, while York was forced to surrender to Parliament and the North of England was effectively lost to the King.

Johnson's book is based on a thesis he wrote for his MA in historical research at the University of Hull which he completed in 2000. He took time off from his studies to write the book and eventually hopes to become a lecturer.

Johnson, 45, who now lives in Darlington, hopes his work will appeal not just to academics but also to those with a keen interest in Yorkshire history.

"I have always been interested in every form of history and for reasons I cannot explain I just became more and more fascinated by the Civil War in Yorkshire.

"The book was basically written for an academic thesis but what I am hoping is that because I concentrate on a neglected piece of Yorkshire history, others outside of academic life might find the book interesting.

"Another reason I wrote the book was because there has been very little research and writing on the Battle of Adwalton Moor and it was in fact a story waiting to be told, I felt," he added.

Adwalton Moor: The Battle that Changed a War, is published by Blackthorn Press and costs 14.95.