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1. Archaeological evidence
1.1. A full report of the work undertaken by the community group is due to be
published in late 2006 which will make a strong, evidential case that Germany
Beck is the core of the battlefield of 1066. Pending this, an outline report
without all the data, analysis or details has been prepared for the public
inquiry and distributed with this statement.
- 1.1.1. The raw data and the finds are open for anybody to inspect.
- 1.1.2. It is taking longer than expected to analyse the mass of data. The
pre-publication plan calls for those academics who assisted in devising the
investigation reviewing the work and this will take time.
- 1.1.3. As a consensus already exists agreement that this is the likely
battlesite, we would be happy meet the developer’s archaeological advisor to
allow us to present an agreed case to the inquiry.
1.2. All parties have stated that this is the likely location of the battle.
- 1.2.1. The developers in their desktop study noted “The location for the battle
is open to conjecture. The geographical details that the River was to the right
(west) and the Ditch was on the left (east) suggests that the Ditch mentioned
may refer to Germany Beck. This theory was adhered to by K Penn who wrote the
report on the A64 Outer Ring Road evaluation in 1973. Broadhead in his article
gives the location of the battle on Fulford Ings (SE 609488). Without further
field evaluation this issue seems likely to remain unresolved. …. The site of
the battle of Fulford, based on interpretation of the available evidence does
suggest that this event may have occurred either on the site or very close to
the eastern boundary of the site. Whether information relevant to this event
would be forthcoming from the development of the site is difficult to say. …
Considering the results of the evaluation it is recommended that further
evaluation of the proposed development area be undertaken” When this was
written, probably in 1995, the area of Germany Beck did not form part of the
proposed development. In a public debate in early 2001, it was agreed with the
developer’s representative Anne Finney that we both accepted Germany Beck as the
probable battle site so we spent the evening talking about the history of the
area. A decade later, the developer was claiming that “the proposed development
would not appear to impact on the battlefield location due to the total lack of
evidence to support the battle having taken place on the Germany Beck site”
which as various people have pointed out lacks logic and is wrong.
- 126.96.36.199. The absence of proof is not proof of absence and invites the question
about why the developers have behaved to prevent gathering the evidence.
- 188.8.131.52. The notion that their plans ‘would not appear to impact on the
battlefield’ is incomprehensible. Their plan is to cover it with several metre
of hardcore topped with tarmac.
- 184.108.40.206. To their credit the developers have accepted the need to provide a
battlefield interpretation trail should their application be approved.
- 1.2.2. Dr Paul Stamper, the Battlefields Panel coordinator for English Heritage,
wrote to the city in May 2004 saying ‘The degree of proof which our own criteria
require for registration is high – more than tradition or likelihood – and other
then in the most exceptional cases such as Hastings is unlikely to exist for
such early battle. ..while the available evidence is insufficient to allow the
inclusion of the site on the Register of Battlefields, your authority may still
be minded to conclude that on the balance of probability it has a significance
as the most likely site of this important event.’
- 1.2.3. The city archaeologist wrote in his report to the planning committee “..
the evidence for this being the site of the Battle of Fulford is more difficult
to evaluate. It has not been possible to locate and describe features, deposits
or indeed the landscape within which the Battle of Fulford took place with any
reasonable degree of certainty or accuracy. However, it is inherently likely
that the Battle of Fulford was fought in this area.” This advice was offered
without the benefit of a site visit or an inspection of the data collected.
- 1.2.4. The exchanges between the city archaeologist (CA) and various officers of
English Heritage (EH) is worth noting. CA warns EH in September 2003 (12.2) ‘The
supposed site of the Battle of Fulford may lie in part within the proposed
housing development..’ CA assessment for EH is that ‘If this interpretation is
accepted, and it appears to me to be a reasonable interpretation, the main
issues in my opinion is….the acceptability or otherwise of any impacts the
development may have on the historic landscape…’ EH to COYC in May 2004 ‘The
battlefield of Fulford was clearly of sufficient political and historical
significance to merit inclusion of the Register.’ But points out that the
evidence so far available to them does not allow it to be ‘securely mapped’
adding that the degree of proof required for the old Register is high. (5.2) It
is relevant to point out that the original Battlefield Register was compiled on
the basis of tradition and no work had been commissioned to investigate the
existing or new battlefields and the system is soon to be replaced by a new
- 1.2.5. The Battlefield Trust will be submitting their own statement but it is
worth including the comment made by English Heritage when writing to the City
Archaeologist that ‘Preliminary work by Glenn Foard of the Battlefield Trust ….
confirms the area of the proposed development as a strong possibility for the
site of the battle.’
- 1.2.6. Four letters have been submitted to the inspectorate. They come for some
experts on the subject of battlefields who are masters of their subject. They
have all produced popular television series on the subject of battlefields.
- 220.127.116.11. Prof Richard Holmes – Writer and presenter of the ‘Battlefield Walks’
- 18.104.22.168. Dr Tony Pollard – One of the ‘Two Men in the Trench’ who has just
established the UK’s first undergraduate course for battlefield archaeology.
- 22.214.171.124. Peter and Dan Snow – Whose ‘Battlefield Britain’ series demonstrate the
popular appetite to understand our battlefield heritage.
- 126.96.36.199. Dr Tim Sutherland – Archaeological advisor on ‘Battlefield Detective’
and the lead investigator at Towton.
- 188.8.131.52. They all want to see the site investigated and interpreted for the
benefit of the public. All 82 attendees at the International Battlefield
Conference in 2002 signed a letter to the city council requesting that no
permission is granted until the site has been properly investigated.
1.3. Battlefields are important artefacts.
- 1.3.1. Dr John Carman, University Research Fellow in Heritage Value at The
Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham has been
leading the academic debate about battlefields as cultural artefacts. He
highlights the problems associated with preserving battlefields. He has written:
“The category of ‘historic battlefield’ is a new category that has emerged from
the shadows of archaeology over the last twenty years or so. As an object of
specifically archaeological concern it is an interesting and problematic
category, although this is not often acknowledged by battlefield
- 1.3.2. There has been much debate about how to afford protection to battlefields
and the various consultative process leading towards a new legal framework has
been completed. The responsible government department say that the ‘White paper’
will be published ‘in the late summer’. There is every indication that the site
at Fulford will be afforded protection when the new act becomes law.
- 1.3.3. English Heritage has launched a project to define a methodology to
investigate battlefields which should make life much easier for the planners of
1.4. Fulford is an important battle as the letters from all the experts
illustrates. After criticizing the way that military and social historians have
dominated the choice of sites that are rated as important Dr Carmen concludes:
“Instead we should be examining not the spectacular, the decisive and the
memorable but precisely those ‘strategically piffling, pointless bloodbaths’
that Keegan refers to; these are the more usual and representative battles of
any historical period.” The old view of ‘celebrity battles’ is being reassessed.
When that process is complete, the relevance of Fulford to the events of the
autumn of 1066 can expect to be better appreciated.
1.5. So long as reasonable suspicion is established, any proposal must mitigate
against disrupting this important environment at Fulford. This is how the
relevant Planning Guidance summarises the importance of archaeology: It is worth
quoting in full as it is unambiguous about the value of heritage and the need to
avoid its ‘needless and thoughtless’ destruction:
A: The Importance Of Archaeology
“3. Archaeological remains are irreplaceable. They are evidence - for
prehistoric periods, the only evidence - of the past development of our
“4. Today's archaeological landscape is the product of human activity over
thousands of years. It ranges through settlements and remains of every period,
from the camps of the early hunter gatherers 400,000 years ago to remains of
early 20th century activities. It includes places of worship, defence
installations, burial grounds, farms and fields, and sites of manufacture.
“5. These remains vary enormously in their state of preservation and in the
extent of their appeal to the public. "Upstanding" remains are familiar enough -
the great stone circles, the castle and abbey ruins of the Middle Ages or
abandoned coastal defence systems. But less obvious archaeological remains, such
as ancient settlements and field systems, are also to be found across large
parts of the country. Some prehistoric sites in wetland areas contain important
wood and organic remains. Many buildings in older towns lie on top of Roman,
Anglo-Saxon or medieval structures.
“6. Archaeological remains should be seen as a finite and non-renewable
resource, in many cases highly fragile and vulnerable to damage and destruction.
Appropriate management is therefore essential to ensure that they survive in
good condition. In particular, care must be taken to ensure that archaeological
remains are not needlessly or thoughtlessly destroyed. They can contain
irreplaceable information about our past and the potential for an increase in
future knowledge. They are part of our sense of national identity and are
valuable both for their own sake and for their role in education, leisure and
“8. With the many demands of modern society, it is not always feasible to save
all archaeological remains. The key question is where and how to strike the
right balance. Where nationally important archaeological remains, whether
scheduled or not, and their settings, are affected by proposed development there
should be a presumption in favour of their physical preservation. Cases
involving archaeological remains of lesser importance will not always be so
clear cut and planning authorities will need to weigh the relative importance of
archaeology against other factors including the need for the proposed
development (see also paragraph 27). Regardless of the circumstances, taking
decisions is much easier if any archaeological aspects of a development site can
be considered early on in the planning and development control process. This is
discussed in Section B.”
1.6. The nature of archaeological investigation on battlefields is new and the
approach adopted at Fulford is pioneering.
- 1.6.1. The city archaeologist agrees that ‘there is no accepted methodology for
evaluating 11th century battlefield sites.’ But goes on to say ‘it is reasonable
to suppose that standard archaeological approaches would have produced some
evidence’. (2.1) This assumption is unfounded. Recognised sites such as Hastings
and Stamford Bridge have failed to yield conventional archaeological material.
Consequently the analysis about the battlefield that follows from the city
archaeologist is undermined. Finding a battlefield involves more than digging
holes and hoping to find some indicative artefacts. If you added the total area
of all the trenches investigated by the developer, it would add up to an
insignificant percentage of the battlefield investigation area (<.01%).
- 1.6.2. In order to alert the developers and the city to the emerging techniques
for investigating battlefields, the only full-time battlefield archaeologist in
England, Glenn Foard was asked to assess the work undertaken by the
developers.(2.2) It was highly critical and provided a methodology to
investigate the site.(2.3) Sadly all this advice has been ignored.
1.7. It would be wrong to leave the impression that the archaeological work that
has been carried out on the site has not been excellent and informative. The
effort expended in the area of the housing was appropriate and the results
interesting. But this work is of very little relevance to identifying the
battlesite. Later we will inquire as to why this same skill and supervision was
not applied to the investigation of the battlesite in spite of the advice and
eventual complains that were lodged with the planners.
1.8. ODPM asks in the call-in letter also asks if ‘in situ’ is appropriate to
- 1.8.1. A conference was convened last year by English Heritage to reassess the
general presumption that preserving sites beneath buildings was the favoured
option. While this is a sensible compromise in many cases, it is now clear that
this does not preserve all types of archaeology which is leading to a review of
- 1.8.2. ‘In-situ’ is utterly inappropriate for a battlefield. Indeed is hard to
see that burying the landscape below up to four meters of hardcore, capped with
tarmac can seriously be interpreted as ‘in situ’ preservation as the term is
generally understood. The landscape surface is the battlefield. Burying it
beneath a road is not preservation in any sensible interpretation of the word.
- 1.8.3. This is what the planning guidance says. “Once the planning authority has
sufficient information, there is a range of options for the determination of
planning applications affecting archaeological remains and their settings. As
stated in paragraph 8, where nationally important archaeological remains,
whether scheduled or not, and their settings, are affected by proposed
development there should be a presumption in favour of their physical
preservation in situ ie, a presumption against proposals which would involve
significant alteration or cause damage, or which would have a significant impact
on the setting of visible remains.” (PPG16:27) The guidelines are again clear
but being ignored. The visual impact that the access road would have on the
battlefield will destroy it. Why is this site regarded as an exception to this
clear obligation on the developers and planning authorities?
1.9. A strong objection is once again made that this inquiry is being conducted
before the necessary archaeological work and assessment has been undertaken.
- 1.9.1. The arguments set out in the council’s documentation do not provide
reason for not demanding relevant work. The need for the work is clearly
appreciated because it has been specified in the mitigation required before full
approval could be granted.
- 1.9.2. It is hard to understand the logic embodied in the COYCs grant of
planning permission that, on the one hand requires the developer to carefully
investigative the battle site, while on the other granting them permission to
destroy whatever is found.
- 1.9.3. A proper investigation should have preceded any planning decision about
this land. Consequently everything else in this paper is fighting to recover
from a position where we should not be.
- 1.9.4. Details of the investigation that is still required are listed on the
last page of the outline report and findings.
1.10. The universal acceptance, plus the results of the investigations by the
society leave little room for doubt that Germany Beck is the place of the
battle. It is certainly impossible to allow the planned road to be built until
the investigative work, that has been blocked by the developers, is completed
and any fragile evidence destroyed.
Research progress report