The mysterious "Battle of Meanwood" in the Civil War

The green spaces and places of Leeds
simonm
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JoinedCOLON Sat 19 May, 2007 5:34 pm

Postby simonm » Mon 23 Jul, 2007 11:33 pm

Most likely is oldLeedsman. There are many burial mounds around the city from various ages!!


I WANT TO BE IN THE "INCROWD" :)

"Those who sacrifice Liberty for security deserve neither!!"
drapesy
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Postby drapesy » Tue 24 Jul, 2007 12:20 am

simonm wrote:
From what I can remember, the main battle/ skirmish was down by the river along the aire around Kirkstall abbey way. The Parliamentarians approached from the west of Leeds along the river valley and met resistence near the abbey? A smallish battle ensued and the royalists were pushed back along and into the river. No more resistence was found in any great number!

It's quite possible that other skirmishes broke out elsewhere in the city as troops fleeing were being pursued!

I'll dig out my old books and get a better description later!


My God Simonm - you've got a heck of a long memory - You must be older than Arry Awk!!! Which side were you on??
there are 10 types of people in the world. Those that understand ternary, those that don't and those that think this a joke about the binary system.

Scandy Bramley
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JoinedCOLON Sun 20 May, 2007 12:14 pm

Postby Scandy Bramley » Tue 24 Jul, 2007 12:39 am

drapesy wrote:
My God Simonm - you've got a heck of a long memory - You must be older than Arry Awk!!! Which side were you on??



Like most Armleyites, he sided with them that was winning at the time. Regular Smiley

He couldn't have sided with the roundheads, as it's an armley characteristic that you have a 50p shaped head, with protruding forehead and abnormally low eyebrows.

SimonM also has the tell-tale grazed knuckles (from continually dragging them along the gravelly streets of his location), that show him to be a real Armleyite.

In the civil war, BOTH sides avoided Armley, as they were scared of catching rabies, or the bubonic plague...
NOT from the dogs or rats, but from contact with the locals! Regular Smiley

Stanningley Road was built to keep armleyite neanderthals out of civilised Bramley Wink
You can take the lad out of Leeds - but you can't take the Leeds out of the lad.
simonm
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JoinedCOLON Sat 19 May, 2007 5:34 pm

Postby simonm » Tue 24 Jul, 2007 1:23 am

Thats gonna cost you on Fri!!!! Regular SmileyRegular Smiley

Drapesy, there are quite a lot of burial mounds around the city and surrounding area's. Farnley park, towton etc!


I WANT TO BE IN THE "INCROWD" :)

"Those who sacrifice Liberty for security deserve neither!!"

Ro-Man
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JoinedCOLON Tue 27 Feb, 2007 11:53 am

Postby Ro-Man » Tue 24 Jul, 2007 10:03 am

There seems to be quite a bit of interest in this story, so I'll post the other account I mentioned in my first post. This is from a pamphlet by Walter Gill called "Woodhouse in Leeds". If you ask me there's way too many assumptions about what could have happened, and the theory of the name 'Pikeman Rigge' which he mentions at the end had already been disproved. Still, it's worth a read just to show how one bit of history can have so many theories.


But what about the Bradford pikemen who had dropped down the almost precipitous slope of Batty's Wood into Meanwood Valley? A persistent folk-tradition lasting right up to modern times held that a Civil War battle had been fought here too, on the northern border of Greater Woodhouse. Occasional widely scattered leaden bullets were unearthed in the Valley, and two mounds were reputed burial places of the soldiers killed in it. One was on the top of Miles Hill (know to locals as Sugarwell Hill) on the opposite side of the Valley from the Ridge and Batty's Wood (known to locals as Batty Woods). A prominent group of trees (now only bushes) marked what is still known as "Soldiers' Grave". The other tree-covered mound is half-a-mile further north by the side of Stonegate Road, near to Revolution Well.

All this, though suggestive, fell short of concrete evidence, especially in view of the absence of written accounts. Then by accident my younger brother, a friend and I, found what was lacking. Just about the time I was beginning my series of old Woodhouse sketches, we were walking along Meanwood Beck at the foot of the rocky slope of Batty's Wood when one of us picked up what looked like a small round pebble. But it was very heavy, in fact plainly a leaden bullet: I had seen several such in local museums. Curious as to whether there might be more, we began scratching the loose soil which barely covered the sandstone rocks on the right bank of the stream. We found not a few but dozens of the bullets. Eventually, after several summers' evenings' work, we had collected almost two hundred of them, all within two or three yards of the stream over a space of no more than thirty or forty yards alongside it. Many more are probably still there; three were found in an hour or two nearly forty years after our first dig.

Over all those intervening years I slowly collected other pieces of tangible evidence and researched the records. Most of these details and the reasoned arguments therefrom were published in a Yorkshire Evening Post article of mine, June 27th 1974. Sufficient here now to tell the story which had unfolded of the Battle of Meanwood Valley.

There is no doubt that Sir William Savile knew both the intended date and general strategy of the expected attack. Thus early in the war many had doubts as to where their loyalties lay. This produced quite a crop of spies and informers on both sides. So the Royalists' commander anticipated a move down the Meanwood Valley and the likely point of entry. He evidently sent some companies of his dragoons (mounted musketeers) to block it. These arrived in time to select their position, probably along one of the many ancient goits thereabouts and facing the foot of the steep woodland from a hundred yards or so away, on the opposite side of the beck. Then, as the leading pikemen were crossing the stream and the rest fully committed to the descent, the Royalists fired a tremendous concentrated volley using every gun they had - hoping to create panic and suicidal attempts to climb back into the Wood. This accounts for the bullets we found.

What exactly happened then is a matter of some conjecture. But
certainly the pikemen did not lose their nerve. Their morale was high
after their two recent victories over these same troops. Moreover they now had had a month's training under professional officers known to have been provided by Sir Thomas Fairfax.

It could be that the outnumbering pikemen immediately charged the dragoons before they had had time to reload their muskets, a process which took three or four minutes. Thjs however now seems unlikely since I have heard fairly recently that from time to time bullets have been dug up in the allotments, a few hundred yards downstream, behind Woodhouse Cricket Field where the brook forms its boundary. All along this stretch the general direction of the stream is a wide arc turning inwards relative to the dragoons' position.

What probably happened was that, after the initial volley, the pikemen continued to drop swiftly down through Batty's Wood and then spread downstream, taking cover behind the opposite bank of the Beck, - and waited. The Royalists, who cannot have numbered much more than 300 men, were in no position to attack at close quarters after failing to panic their opponents and must have been contemplating remounting to get away. Meanwhile, it would seem likely that the small company of Bradford musketeers (30 had been sent to attack Leeds Bridge with the other half of the pikemen) were sent to the downstream end of the line with instructions there to fire a volley at the dragoons. Fearful of being outflanked, the latter fired a volley back - which gave the thousand pikemen their signal to rise from the Beck banks as one man. And a fearful sight they must have looked as they charged!

The battle spread across the valley as the dragoons, such as had time to remount, hastily retreated mostly round the northern flank of Miles Hill. Here, up the shallow little vale of the Stain Beck, (as testified by bullets found in the Stainbeck area) they seem to have made their last attempt at a stand. Here, too, the King's men probably suffered their worst casualties, since the ground is exactly halfway between the two burial mounds.

Eventually it seems, the remnants of the defeated companies managed to disengage themselves and ride off eastwards to Seacroft. Here they established a strongpoint which became a thorn in the side of the Leeds' victors for several months. But by the time the pikemen had broken off the chase, the battle there was already over and won without their presence.

Whichever battle the folk of Woodhouse watched (as the bolder spirits no doubt did) they had safe grandstand views from either just beyond the southern edge of the Moor for the Leeds fight, or for that of Meanwood Valley from the crown of Woodhouse Ridge. Small wonder that the latter vantage point, even a century and a half later as evidenced by maps, was still known by the name of "Pikeman Rigge". In the story of Woodhouse, 23rd January 1643 was quite a day!
Scandy Bramley
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JoinedCOLON Sun 20 May, 2007 12:14 pm

Postby Scandy Bramley » Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:26 pm

AWESOME tale, Ro-Man! Thanks for that mate!
This forum never ceases to amaze me, with the history you learn on here...
Truely fantastic....
You can take the lad out of Leeds - but you can't take the Leeds out of the lad.
FarnleyBloke
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JoinedCOLON Wed 11 Apr, 2007 12:03 pm

Postby FarnleyBloke » Wed 25 Jul, 2007 11:03 am

A couple of years ago Calendar or Look North did a feature where some guys were re-enacting a Civil War skirmish that supposedly happened on Boar Lane. Could this be part of the same thing? Were there possibly running battles between small groups all over leeds?

LS13
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Postby LS13 » Fri 14 Sep, 2007 8:07 pm

The steep grass bank on the Headingley side of Woodhouse Ridge was known as 'carboard hill' when I was a kid. It was littered with the remnants of cardboard boxes used as makeshift sledges by hundreds of little lads. Rumours circulated of would-be evel knievels tackling the steep slope on bogeys/go karts but I never believed it..this was in the days before x boxes etc obviously...

JanCee
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JoinedCOLON Sat 16 Jun, 2007 5:11 pm

Postby JanCee » Fri 14 Sep, 2007 8:44 pm

BOOMSHANKA
JanCee
PostsCOLON 201
JoinedCOLON Sat 16 Jun, 2007 5:11 pm

Postby JanCee » Fri 14 Sep, 2007 8:46 pm

Jazz.
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.............NICE!

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