1. The literature
2. Landscape studies allow much interpretation relevant to the battle (Model)
Work began in 2001. Over 5000 metal items were recovered during the monthly fieldworking during 03/04. This has provided much evidence of how the land has been used over the years.
Half of the material has been examined and the most significant find was evidence of some short-term metal working. This can be interpreted as an indication that there was a lot of short-term glut of metal in the area. It was hoped that this can be further investigated but the developers have repeatedly refused access so much more work remains to be done.
But the sample recovered during our work have yielded some exceptional results. The metal from the areas of the identified metal-working areas have been subjected to XRF examination.
The overall pattern might also prove significant but there is no methodology available yet. But we are working to develop such a model in case the distribution indicates hotspots of fragmentary metal. And, so far, it looks promising.
· A search of much of the site has not yet been permitted. There have been no existing finds to tie this area to the battle. Battlefields of this era have not yielded any significant finds. The evidence of metal working we have uncovered might explain this.
· A group of 11 burials with battle wounds have been excavated by a church near the city gate and dated to the time of the battle. The soil is shallow so burial would have been impossible and the flooding, time and the acidic conditions would have removed all traces of human remains.
· There are, however, reports of a body of a warrior being found in the 19th century on the anaerobic conditions found in parts of the Ings to the rear of the suggested site but attempts to locate the place where these finds were stored have so far failed.
The subsurface structure is revealing. It explains why the Beck breaks through to the river at that point. The geology does not reveal any other drainage ditches in the vicinity of Fulford or indeed between Fulford and York. No drain could have existed for at least a kilometre north or south of the proposed site.
Core samples have plotted the line of the Beck which can be traced back to the retreat of the last ice sheet. The alignment of the paleo-channel explains the current route that the Beck takes towards the river.
There is environmental evidence that the Ings existed in 1066. The geology therefore precludes much of the area as suitable for fighting.
4. Topography and Maps
· The suggested site at Fulford is on the direct route from Riccall to York. The location of the old roads is far from certain. However, there are a limited number of identifiable routes. However the modern routes linking modern settlements follow the underlying geology south of the site suggesting that these are the 'natural' routes.
· Apart from periodic flooding, the area has seen little change. The silt deposited by the regular flooding would have been matched by the flushing effect from the catchment area, extending as far as Heslington, drained by the Beck.
However, heavier material gradually built up along the bank beside the river, creating the alluvial plains behind this dam. This embankment provided a causeway between the river and the Ings.
· The only significant change to the area under examination was when spoil from construction of the Ring Road was dumped to raise the area between the cemetery and the A19 above the flood level. This area is at the very centre of the suggested battle site and the previous layout is consistent with the literature which describes weaker elements of King Harald of Norway's army being sent into a swampy area against which Earl Morcar's troop made some progress before becoming bogged down, surrounded and destroyed. The cores taken in this area confirm the interpretation of the battle given on this site.
· It is a 'choke point' where routes to the city from the south converge
· It has very good flank protection
· This site provided the defenders with a natural barrier in the form of the Beck
No other site in the area has suggested itself to the experienced military eye. In military terms, it is easy to envisage the course of the battle given in the narratives including the encirclement of part of the army if the flank on the riverbank was lost.
6. The environment
Most of the Ings, with the exception of the area of the suggested battle site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) managed by English Nature. Consultation with them did not yield the hoped for soil profiles which might allow the age and history of the area adjacent to the river to be plotted. English Nature is concerned with the surface. But in their view, this environment has been stable for at least 1000 years with the drier parts of the Ings providing summer grazing for sheep.
7. Size Matters
A collection of the various strands of evidence about the number of troops taking part in the battle.
8. The Tidal Ouse & York as a tidal port
Colin Briden has kindly let us reproduce his work on the tide in the Ouse. The ebb and flow of the river is relevant to any interpretation of the battle.
So what did all of this produce......