The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Oliver's Castle



The camp was more anciently called Roundway or Rundaway Castle, and its present name of Oliver's Camp or Castle seems to have arisen out of a popular tradition that Oliver Cromwell occupied, if he did not actually build, the camp. The only foundation in fact for this tradition is that the battle of Roundway in 1643 was fought on the neighbouring Downs, when some of the combatants may have been posted close to, if not actually within, the boundary of the camp. Cromwell himself was not present on the occasion, but the fact that Cromwellian troops fought on the adjacent Downs was quite enought to give rise in the course of time to the popular association of the camp with the name of the great man himself. Cromwell has always loomed large in the imagination of the people, and it has been said that he has achieved an unenviable notoriety only second to the Devil himself.
Notes on Excavations at Oliver's Camp Near Devizes, Wilts.
M. E. Cunnington
Man, Vol. 8. (1908), pp. 7-13.

The Parliamentary Western Army were pretty much demolished by the Royalists at the Down. Their cavalry were forced over the steep escarpment just north of Oliver's Castle, and "in fact" (i.e. allegedly) more men died of their falls than did in the battle. It's said that 800 of them still lie where they fell*, so it wouldn't be surprising if this place has a strange reputation. It's immensely steep - unless you see some people at the base of the hill it's actually quite difficult to appreciate how far up you are and how steep it is.

*I think this little factoid might be in Katy Jordan's 'Haunted Landscape'.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th November 2006ce
Edited 5th February 2017ce

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