The Battery is an informal green space of approximately 0.65 hectares adjacent to St Mark’s Church. It is grassed with a number of trees of different types and ages. The area is mown regularly so that it is easy to walk in and be used as an informal play area.
The site includes an earthwork enclosure defined by a bank and a ditch thought to date back to the Iron Age. It was known as Cromwell’s Camp from c1780 and, more latterly as Oliver Cromwell’s Battery. The ancient earthwork provided a suitable campsite for the besieging Parliamentarian forces, but cannon of the period would have lacked the range to fire on Winchester Castle and city walls from the so-called battery site.
The area enclosed by the ancient earthwork is a monument scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as it is deemed to be of national importance.
The discovery within this earthwork of the Saxon warrior and his grave goods brought our settlement to public notice. The bronze hanging bowl provides a direct link with Oliver’s Battery today – the PC logo is based on the intricate and beautiful design of the enamelled discs on the three escutcheons arranged around the rim of the bowl. This design is also set into the shields displayed on the two ‘Saxon forts’, part of the new Vikings and Saxons themed play equipment at the Recreation Ground.
In the spring of 2012, a village sign was erected on a corner of the site which is not part of the Scheduled Monument. Wendy Bramall, a local artist and resident, designed the sign which illustrates places and points of interest in the history and setting of Oliver’s Battery.
In December 2015, ownership of the site was transferred from Hampshire County Council to the Parish Council, which is now responsible for the maintenance of the site. However, because the majority of the site is a Scheduled Monument, English Heritage strictly controls its use by the community.
More recently, the Oliver’s Battery Countryside Group created several plots for wild flowers near the village sign and adjacent to Oliver’s Battery Road South. These plots have provided an attractive display of flowers for passers-by and pollen- and nectar-rich flowers for bees and butterflies.
In the spring of 2018, an interpretation board setting out the history of the site, highlighting some of the important archaeological artefacts found there and clarifying the site’s connection to Oliver Cromwell was installed adjacent to Oliver’s Battery Road South:
Further detailed information about the 2009 archaeological investigation that identified the site of an execution cemetery can be found in the report by Andrew Russell below:
Hung In Chains – Report by Andrew Russell