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Archeologist 5 2012
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5 March 2012

Dear John

Your detailed letter does not really address the issues I was raising about the planned development along Germany Beck.

When I asked the Government office that granted the ‘stopping-up order’ (for the access road) why they had ignored my objection that no archaeological work had been conducted, they told me the City claimed that the area had already been investigated. Because this information was wrong, I was asking you if the planners were aware of this. The sites should be investigated before permission is granted.

 I naturally welcome the fact that proper investigative work will be done on the only part of the ancient ford  that has not been in-filled or altered. But I was asking if the permission can be allowed to stand given that it was granted without any prior archaeological investigation. Can you clarify this issue please.

The next issue I was asking was for reassurance that the work would be done before work commenced. Since I am very clear that what was agreed was not a ‘watching brief’, the housing layout cannot be finalised until the archaeological work has been done and assessed. If the events are done is the correct order then the issues you raise about costs to the public purse of making changes do not arise. Can you please clarify this for me as I want to be completely clear that the archaeology will take place before the site and its subtle evidence is destroyed.

I have good reason to believe that more reprocessing sites will be identified as no battlefield investigation was allowed on the north side of the beck.  A metal-detectorists found what is probably another metal reprocessing site to match those identified along the south side of the beck. They took the artefacts to the Small Finds experts at the Yorkshire Museum where the items were identified as hearth debris, but sadly disposed of. 

I am disappointed that you stand by the evidence you presented at the Public Inquiry. The view you expressed (6.6 in your conclusion) was that there was ‘no archaeological evidence’ and that’ historical sources are an unsound basis for making a decision’. I note that even the developers have now moved away from their claim that there is ‘no evidence’ and say that the evidence revealed for the battle of Fulford is ‘inconclusive’ in their application for reserved matters. I think you are wrong to maintain there is no evidence:

·         The physical evidence has been published and exposed at several conferences. I sent you a copy of one paper that will be published by the Trustees of the Royal Armouries shortly.  I accept that this is a unique set of physical finds. But the unique status of these finds makes it all the more important that they should be properly investigated and recorded. So I must dispute your insistence that there is no archaeological evidence and I repeat my invitation for you to come and inspect it and engage with me in a debate about the body of material that was located.

·         The claims I have made for Germany Beck as the place of the battle of Fulford have never relied on historical sources. However I hope you have studied my report on the work where I demonstrate that there are a number of places where the landscape research allows the historical sources to be checked (pages 125-131 of the report). So the literature provided a good way to test the body of evidence that was discovered rather than as a guide to finding the site so I cannot see that the this second part of your rejection of the site was relevant then or now.

You know that I hold you in highest respect, John, but I am mystified by your position. Several years ago I asked you to use your enhanced powers to require the additional work so that my hypothesis about reprocessing sites could be tested in time for the final stages of the planning process. You declined to do this which forces me to ask for a delay now so that the work can be done and assessed.

We have both expressed the view that battlefields are very difficult to prove.But a decade of work has produced a unique collection of evidence which offers the archaeological community a chance to identify other battlesite in future and allows me to be extremely confident that we have found the site of the battle of Fulford.

In the years leading to the publication of the report on the work, I ended all of my presentations with a statement along the lines of “please let me know if you can find any alternative explanation why many compact reprocessing sites where tools as well as valuable finished products have been abandoned at sites that are remote from any know habitation or source of iron and which appeared to be making military rather than domestic items.” All these were found along the ditch that our landscape archaeology pointed as the likely place of the battle plus we now have a suggestion of matching finds on the opposite bank. It is a very compelling case for the site of the battle of Fulford.

There is more work to be done and, as I mentioned earlier, I have made timely requests for this work to be done. But the existing body of evidence has been extensively tested and my report lists the work that can be done in future to check and extend the investigation. I will ask the planners to delay their decision until the necessary work has been done to put the site of the battle beyond any doubt. It is wrong, and I think against the law, to avoid seeking the evidence because the results will be inconvenient. We should gather the evidence and then have an informed debate about the fate of the battle site.

Finally, in your evidence to the inquiry, you make much of the failure of English Heritage to list the battle even though the register was effectively closed at the time. This is why I asked you in my last letter to tell me how the current work by English Heritage to assess the evidence would influence the advice you would now give the Planning Committee. Would it not be appropriate for you to join me and advise the planners to postpone their decision pending the outcome of this assessment?

I still hope we can meet to have a good look at all of the evidence before the final decisions are made.

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The author of the content is Charles Jones - fulfordthing@gmail.com   Last updated April 2015

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