17th Century Wars
The county of Somerset is today best known for cider and Cheddar cheese, but over the centuries it has been the battleground for some of the bloodiest engagements ever fought on British soil. The Roman army established fortified encampments across the region, such as Ilchester, known as Lendiniae and one of the earliest recorded battles fought in Somerset took place at Dyrham in 577.
The county found itself thrust into the English Civil War on the 6th August 1642 when one of the first skirmishes of the war was fought between 800 Parliamentarian troops and 120 Royalist troops with 600 Militia at Marshalls Elm, near Glastonbury. The nearby town of Somerton learnt of this action and 43 years later was to become involved in another war when the Duke of Monmouth's army marched through the area and used the town's church of St Mary as a temporary barracks.
Many towns and villages across the county found themselves in the same position as Somerton, as the menfolk took sides during the Civil war and the Monmouth Rebellion. This tour which takes you across some of the most hard-fought for territory in the country, visiting locations where some of the battles took place, such as the Battle of Langport 1645 and the Battle of Sedgemoor 1688.
Somerset also played a role during both world wars with prisoner of war camps and training camps established across the region, even defensive lines from WWII can still be traced from those days. But it was during the turbulent 17th century that the county probably suffered more than many other regions.