Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Newark - 17th century town walls
Behind the walkway was the main ditch. Continental standards insisted this should be 20 feet deep and 50 feet wide, but again such huge dimensions were rare in England. The purpose of the ditch was to stop attacking infantry from penetrating any further. The outer face of the ditch was steep, but the inner face was vertical. On the continent this was faced by stone, carefully cut to offer no handholds or other grips to help an attacker climb it. In England the inner face of the ditch was more likely to be of wooden planks that held the earth back as much as made climbing difficult. Where this vertical wall reached the level of the outer bank it sloped back suddenly at an angle of 40 degrees. Like the slope on the outer bank this was designed to deflect incoming shot.
This main wall was built of stone, timber or earth and was thick enough to absorb the impact of cannonballs. Behind a parapet the main defensive artillery were located. Few fortresses in England had enough cannon to line the entire walls. Instead they were moved to what looked like a threatened spot and the other sections were manned by musketeers and had numerous lookouts to guard against a surprise assault. The earth spoil from the main ditch piled up here to provide platforms for the artillery.
from "The Sieges of Newark" by Rupert Matthewes.
Buy your copy HERE