16 May 2005
Battle of Fulford – The Forgotten Battle of 1066
The Battle of Fulford is a missing piece of English heritage. On Thursday 26 May the City of York Council will decide if the battlesite from the momentous year, 1066, will be converted to a road and 700+ new houses. The site which has changed little since the battle on 20th September 1066, enjoys extensive public access but will lost forever if this outline planning consent is granted.
There is very little doubt that the proposed road access road runs along a stream which is at the heart of this forgotten battle of 1066. The battle took place at Fulford only 5 days before the battle of Stamford Bridge and a couple of weeks before the clash at Hastings. The battle of Fulford was the same size and just as ferocious as Hastings if the chroniclers of the era are to be believed.
The battle of Fulford was a terrible defeat for the northern army, led by earl Morcar and supported by his brother, earl Edwin of Mercia, although both escaped back to York which was surrendered three days later. King Harold of England, unaware of the Norse invasion, had just sent the southern army home having spent the summer guarding the south coast against the expected invasion by William from Normandy.
Investigating ancient battlefields is a subtle business. Even ten thousand fighting men left few markers in the landscape that would have survived 1000 years. Employing methods such as soil core samples, the land surface mentioned in literature of the time has been well mapped. Metal detecting has recovered nearly 5000 items.
Analysis of the iron finds has produced extensive evidence of metal-working of that era. Further resources and time might prove that the 30+ billets of iron so far identified came from weapon fragments that were recycled, onsite, after the battle. This recycling would help explain why no weapons have been found at either Stamford Bridge or Hastings. If the weapons were immediately recycled, it poses the question, ‘what hard evidence can one expect to find on an medieval battlefield’?
The Fulford Battlefield society was set up to investigate this historic site four years ago. The work has been hampered by the developers who have denied access to over half the site and have not undertaken any relevant investigations themselves. The country’s leading expert on battlefields, Glen Foard, stated that "the applicant did not provide adequate archaeological information".
Unfortunately there is no requirement for archaeological contractors to be regulated by professional bodies. Anybody can be employed to undertake archaeological work. A petition signed by 67 of the countries battlefield archaeologists was handed to the city council in February asking that no planning permission be granted until a proper investigation had been carried out. Their appeal has been ignored.
The site is accepted by all informed opinion even by the developers in their early studies. Somehow the responsibility of protecting, funding and researching the site has fallen to the local community.
Chas Jones, director of Fulford Battlefield Society commented:
"I am passionate and determined to prevent the site of the Battle of Fulford being destroyed. Our group has received generous support from the National Lottery, Local Heritage Initiative and the academic community which has guided and interpreted our work, but it is alarming that there is no national support for such important work."
For further information please contact Chas Jones on 07798 606438
Email:email@example.com Visit: www.battleoffulford.org.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
For information about the activities and protests organised this month please
see the separate May Listings information.
There are images and much more information on the planning and images on the website.www.battleoffulford.org.uk
There is a story briefing, programme for the year and list of events for May on the site.
To view full details of correspondence from the community to the developers and planning authorities visit:www.battleoffulford.org.uk/c_correspondence.htm
English Heritage is reviewing its policies on the Register of Battlefield, which closed some decades ago, and will be publishing a new strategy for battlefields soon.
For more information contact: English Heritage: Keith Emerick - 01904 601901
The Battlefield Trust: Michael Rayner - 01508 558145
Related contact details:
The developer: Persimmon Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd, part of Persimmon PLC - 01904 642199
Their planning consultants: Michael Courcier and Partners - 01204 361551
Archaeological contractor: MAP, archaeological Consultancy Ltd. -01653 697752
City of York Council: 01904 551352