HeritageGateway - Home

Login  |  Register
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV10109
Name:Battlefield, Clyst Heath and Clyst St Mary


Site of a two-day battle at the crossings of the River Clyst, from 4th to 5th August 1549, part of the Prayer book rebellion. Clyst Heath is also said to be the site of an earlier battle in 1455.


Grid Reference:SX 967 913
Map Sheet:SX99SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishClyst St. George
Civil ParishClyst St. Mary
Civil ParishExeter
Civil ParishSowton
DistrictEast Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishCLYST HONITON
Ecclesiastical ParishFARRINGDON
Ecclesiastical ParishHEAVITREE
Ecclesiastical ParishSOWTON
Ecclesiastical ParishTOPSHAM

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX99SE/30

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • BATTLEFIELD (XV to XVI - 1455 AD to 1549 AD (Between))

Full description

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, SX99SE6 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV350826.

Site of Two Battles (AD 1455 and AD1549)
1. [SX96509127]. Site of Battle AD 1455 O.S. 6" 1933-8.
2. On Monday 15th December 1455 the Earl of Devon fought and defeated Lord Bonville in a field near Clyst. On the same ground on the 4th August 1549 'another and fiercer fight took place, whenthe unhappy Cornishmen, …. were mowed down by foreign mercenaries under Lord Russell, afterwards first Earl of Bedford.
Clyst Heath served as the battle ground of Exeter, being the nearest flat place to the city set among hills , and when the plough first turned its virgin soil (early in 1800) many gruesome relics came to light, bones of Englishmen who had died fighting in these two battles.
3. The battle sites were confirmed by Father Murphy who was writing a local history. The 1549 battle was in connection with the Prayerbook Riot of Edward VI's reign.
4. Site visit 6th July 1953. The site is now wooded with a occasional clearing of rough pasture.

Worrall, G., 05/08/1999, Battle at M5, 6-7 (Article in Serial). SDV350834.

Fieldsend, D., 07/09/2000, Prayer Book Rebellion 'Massacre' Site (Correspondence). SDV350831.

Photographs of the 'Long Goes' fields showing evidence of much past disturbance, and a plan with the approximate area of the 'Long Goes' fields marked.

Hooker, J., 1601, Manuscript of John Hooker (Un-published). SDV350829.

'1454 this year was a greate feught upon Clyst Hethe'. The rebells of Exeter entrenched and fortified a place fast by a hedge on the lower side of the heath, next to the highway. Their opponents were encamped about the top of the hill.

Griffiths, D., 17/03/1982, Untitled Source (Personal Comment). SDV350833.

Site visit 17th March 1982. Site of battles now almost totally destroyed by road, and by Bishop's Court sand quarry. 'Spaniard' fields now built upon.

Cotton, W. + Woollcombe, H., 1877, Gleanings from the Municipal and Cathedral Records Relative to the City of Exeter, 66-67 (Monograph). SDV350828.

Hooker, J., 1919, The Description of the Citie of Excester (Monograph). SDV350830.

Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J., 1992, Archaeological Assessment of a proposed redevelopment site at Digby Hospital, Rydon Lane, Exeter, 4 (Report - Assessment). SDV23999.

Bovey, L., 1998, A 349th Anniversary (Un-published). SDV350827.

On Clyst Heath on the night of 4-5 August 1549 the 'Royalists' under Lord Grey killed 900 rebel prisoners of war from Devon and Cornwall in 10 minutes.

Bill Horner, 2000, Prayer Book Rebellion Sites (Correspondence). SDV350832.

Position of 'Spaniards' fields sketched on current Ordnance Survey map. These are now under the M5 roundabout and the road up to the services roundabout, and partly within the Sandygate Quarry grounds on the west side of the slip road south of the quarry trading estate. The 'Long Goes' fields are mostly under the link road to the M5, but partly to its south.
(Higher and Lower Long Goes suggested as possible location of remains from Clyst Heath/Pines Hill massacre during Prayer Book Rebellion).

Foard, G. + Hodgkins, A., 2009, Battlefields of the Prayer Book Rebellion: An Archaeological Resource Assessment, 26-36; figures 13-19 (Report - Assessment). SDV350808.

This two-day battle at the crossings of the River Clyst by the Exeter-Dorchester road was arguably the most pivotal of the campaign. The rebels’ defeat forced them to abandon the siege of Exeter and withdraw. Given the duration and complexity of the action at Clyst, it is treated here as two separate engagements. The first, normally known as Clyst St Mary, was fought on the 4th August for the crossing of the river Clyst on the Exeter-Dorchester road at Bishop’s Clyst. The second, on the 5th August, was fought on the northern edge of Clyst Heath and in the adjacent enclosed ground beside the Dorchester route for control of the road into Exeter.
Battlefield areas have been defined for Clyst St Mary, and more crudely for Clyst Heath because of the greater uncertainties there. Further terrain reconstruction using written sources would be valuable for both sites. This may help to resolve the uncertainties as to the extent of heath, moor and enclosures around Clyst Heath. For Bishop’s Clyst the exact extent of enclosures around the town and a secure location for the furze close and the river crossing used on the outflanking of the bridge are required to more accurately place the action on the first day. However it is only for Clyst St Mary that significant archaeological potential appears to remain. See Report for full details.
Map object based on this source (figure 18).

Ordnance Survey, 2013, MasterMap (Cartographic). SDV350786.

Map object based on this source.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV23999Report - Assessment: Turton, S. D. + Weddell, P. J.. 1992. Archaeological Assessment of a proposed redevelopment site at Digby Hospital, Rydon Lane, Exeter. Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit Report. 92.59. A4 Stapled + Digital. 4.
SDV350786Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 2013. MasterMap. Ordnance Survey Digital Mapping. Digital.
SDV350808Report - Assessment: Foard, G. + Hodgkins, A.. 2009. Battlefields of the Prayer Book Rebellion: An Archaeological Resource Assessment. University of Leeds. Digital. 26-36; figures 13-19.
SDV350826Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. SX99SE6. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV350827Un-published: Bovey, L.. 1998. A 349th Anniversary. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV350828Monograph: Cotton, W. + Woollcombe, H.. 1877. Gleanings from the Municipal and Cathedral Records Relative to the City of Exeter. Gleanings from the Municipal and Cathedral Records Relative to the City of Exeter. 66-67.
SDV350829Un-published: Hooker, J.. 1601. Manuscript of John Hooker.
SDV350830Monograph: Hooker, J.. 1919. The Description of the Citie of Excester. The Description of the Citie of Excester.
SDV350831Correspondence: Fieldsend, D.. 07/09/2000. Prayer Book Rebellion 'Massacre' Site. Letter and Attachments. A4 Unbound.
SDV350832Correspondence: Bill Horner. 2000. Prayer Book Rebellion Sites. Email and Map. A4 Stapled + Digital.
SDV350833Personal Comment: Griffiths, D.. 17/03/1982.
SDV350834Article in Serial: Worrall, G.. 05/08/1999. Battle at M5. Express & Echo. Newspaper/Magazine Cuttin. 6-7.

Associated Monuments

MDV62604Parent of: Fields Named Long Goes (Monument)
MDV60788Related to: Possible Burial Site, Prayer Book Rebellion (Monument)
MDV62606Related to: Possible Site of Battle at Windmill Hill (Monument)
MDV10971Related to: Site of Battle in 1549 at Fenny Meadow, Feniton (Monument)
MDV12578Related to: Site of the Last Battle of the Prayer Book Rebellion (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Oct 21 2019 10:32AM