In December I commented on the WSI for Condition 12 and sent my comments to CYC and to a number of senior archaeologists. Using FOI I discovered that CYC were prepared to approve the earlier draft but were persuaded that the WSI was so poor that it had to be modified. The serious issues I am raising, and the accusations I am making, should not be delegated to officers and must be scrutinised by those who will be held to account if the matters I raise here are not addressed.
Prior to their consideration by CYC, it is imperative that the WSI is subject to some external evaluation. The judgement of the officers of the council as well as English Heritage have been called into question by their willingness to approve the previous draft. I am told by the City archaeologist that the only people who have been consulted in the preparation of these conditions are the same individuals who attended the meetings in February and March 2005. The notes of the meetings relate how a ‘story’ was agreed to allow doubt to be cast on Germany Beck as the location of the battle and get English Heritage to drop their objection.
My objections to this revised WSI fall into three categories:
First, the document is supposed to set out scheme of work. It devotes less than two pages to setting out the work that is planned. The minimal amount of archaeological planning has only been included following representationsbecause of external members of the archaeological community. The WSI devotes more space to explaining how the work may be varied and changed than it does to setting out what the planning conditions say must be done. The first two conditions are pre-development but there is no discussion of the site wide metal detecting or the examination of the peat layers in the beck. There can be no question of phasing this work as the conditions make clear.Some broad statements of principle, which are themselves incomplete, do not provide a scheme of investigation. The present WSI could allowthe developer to do whatever they like, however they like and whenever they like and so does not begin to satisfy the planning conditions.
Second, I have been engaged with a number of legal processes in connection with this planning application and have observed how documents such as this are submitted to the Court claiming to represent the truth having been approved by the planning system. I make it clear that I will not only show how my detailed list of errors have again been ignored but will use this to demonstrate how so many other documents have been passed off as true despite the evidence presented.False information does not become true when it has been approved by the planners and should the matter come to Court I will show how the planning system has failed to take note when alerted to the false information provided by the developers.I note that I alerted the planners to these errors in December 2013 and January 2014. However, few ofthe defects have been removed but clearly some note has been taken as the worst errors have been reworded. This is not good enough. If something is wrong then it should be removed. John Oxley tells me that he cannot force the developers to make the changes. That may be true; in which case the Council should not approve the WSI until the inaccuracies have been removed and the WSI explains what they plan to do.As it stands, the WSI remains an attempt to deceive readers by misreporting and excluding data as well as speculating where hard data is available. It is an attempt to cover up past failures in the planning process with respect to the archaeology. It remains unacceptable and must not be approved until it has addressed the issues raised.
But my third, and most serious criticism, is the failure to explain the discrepancy between the work that was reported by Persimmon along the access road and the results of my own investigation last summer. One of us is wrong. I can produce images and artefacts while the reports which were filed in support of the planning application by Persimmon, cannot. In August 2013 I asked John Oxley to investigate this discrepancy. This has not yet been done.This is both an urgent and a serious matter which is why I am including it within my introduction. What I am saying goes beyond a matter of some poorly reported archaeology.
In 2002 the City Planning Committee required somenew trenches to be dug following my intervention. The work did not fulfil the agreed conditions and when I complained it was agreed that the archaeologist in charge, Anne Finney, should take me round the site. She was accompanied by the on-site archaeological director. I have made it a matter of public record that at one point she kicked the other archaeologist who was answering my questions. He fell silent and Anne Finney then provided me with answers. I now have very good evidence to suggest that the answers provided during my visit were wrong.
There were two specific questions where Anne Finneyintervened. First I asked about any evidence for earlier bridges, such as post-holes in the hard moraine material where Stone Bridge now stands. Anne Finney interrupted the answer to say there was no evidence of an earlier bridge. It was an awkward moment since the facial expression of the site director appeared to want to add more. I later asked if the surface of a ford had been found and Anne Finney provided the reply. It was at this point she kicked the boot of her colleague who remained silent. The story I was given was that no ford surface had been identified and that the whole area was landfill. That is indeed is what the various reports,provided on behalf of Persimmoncovering this area of the access road, say.
The evidence of the stone ford surface is clearly visible whenever the beck is low. The issue of whether the archaeology provided in this area was wrong or knowingly misrepresented must be addressed now.This matter takes precedence over consideration of Condition 12. The excavations in August 2013 provided much evidence that is consistent with the ford being the place of the battle. How the developers failed to note this with their extensive trenching must immediately be explained. If they admit to incompetence then the work must be redone and the access road application reconsidered in the light of what is found.
Throughout the Germany Beck planning process I have beenreassured that a full investigation of the archaeology related to the battle of Fulford would be undertaken. However, the WSI pre-judges the matter of the battlefield by repeatedly implying that there is ‘no evidence’ for the battle. Even though some battle-relatedarchaeology is now included within the scheme of work, the determination to include so many denials that this is the site of a famous battle seems to prejudge the issue. The WSI is designed to find out what is there.
The report repeats baseless speculations which have been refuted on many occasions as if they are fact. This is not only dishonest but fallacious - The WSI repeats the fallacy that has been so successfully promoted by the developers that their failure to find any proof for the battle,is proof that the battle is absent.Absence of proof is not proof of absence. It is dishonest because it ignores all the evidence for battle recycling sites that has been presented and whose further investigation the developers have blocked even though such evidence has been widely published by, for example, The Royal Armouries.
The starting point for the WSI should have been the comment in the letter from English Heritage in March 2004 stating that the specification of the archaeology was “inadequate” for the purpose of identifying whether the battle took place along Germany Beck. Why was therecognised inadequacy not addressed before planning permission was granted?And why is it not being given priority now? This WSI is the final attempt to ‘bury’ what is widely recognisedas a heritage site of international importance. The WSI tries to cover-up the deficiencies of previous work and is notable for promoting a remarkable number of red-herrings to try and support the false information that was fed into the planning process. A critical reading of this WSI is required until it has been amended.
The WSI discredits all those who have presented it.I have nevertheless done my best to treat this document with respect but in truth itis a bad document that needs substantial amendment before it can be approved.
In part 2, I outline some of the projects that must form a part of the proposed scheme. I would note that these includework I proposed before the planning permission which I was blocked from undertaking. Whatever the ultimate fate of the battlefield, we must have a proper record of this unique site. This site deserves to be recognised as‘unique’, a sort of Pompeii for battlefields where a moment has been sealed for us to discover.
I apologise for the repetitious nature of some of my comments but this is a consequence of the frequent assertion in the WSI that there is no evidence for the battle along Germany Beck.
In part one I suggest the action required while part 2 outlines the work required. For example:
Once the WSI has addressed the obvious omissions listed here, itmust be sent for scrutiny to parties independent of York City planners. It is very wrong that those who have played such a part in ensuring that the battle of Fulfordhas not been investigated should now be responsible for judging whether this document discharges the planning condition.Without an independent assessment its lays the process open to the charge that it is covering up past mistakes and misjudgements.
Commenting on this WSI does not represent any lessening in my opposition to the plan to bury the battlefield beneath the access road. On the contrary, it has shown me that I must redouble my efforts since public officers have ignored this important issue.
In my viewthis WSI does not set out to reveal the unique record of the battle that has been identified. Instead it continues to introduce doubt about the battle’s location and repeats the false information that was used to deceive the planning system.
When reviewing all of what follows the reader should be aware that all parties have at some time accepted that Germany Beck is the likely location of the critical first battle of 1066. I am currently challenging the flawed processes, the misleading information and the ignored evidence in the Courts.
15 May 2014
Follow the case on the York planning website (they force you to register to view them but it is not much of an obstacle- just a bit of bureaucracy)
I have gathered the three documents entitled ‘The deception Plan’, ‘The untenable position of English Heritage’ and ‘Role of English Heritage in making changes to a developer’s document’, into a single document as the fuller picture has emerged during 2013 about the way that those charged with protecting our heritage have cooperated with the developers. The original documents have all been widely circulated and form part of the papers provided to the Court. I have yet to hear from either of the public officials why they agreed in March 2005 to the fabrications that Germany Beck might not have been in its present form or location in 1066.
The Pompeii analogy is explained later but, in brief, the published evidence suggests that the clear-up of the site was abandoned after the Norse army was defeated at Stamford Bridge, five days after Fulford leaving many collections of iron around the battlefield that we have found.
Related sites Facebook Twitter (@ helpsavefulford) Visiting Fulford Map York
The author of the content is Charles Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated April 2015
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