Annex B Information that was not considered in the designation report
The body of evidence outlined below is effectively new, since it was not considered in the designation decision.
The literature is discussed in the annex to the designation report and provides the basis of the conclusion that Germany Beck is the site of the battle with a certainty to ‘very strongly’ recommend its designation, so I will not rehearse it here. However, the assessment in the designation report makes a simplistic attempt to inject ambiguity, while a proper assessment of the many sources provided a good starting point and allowed much testing to be done to identify where the literature and landscape matched.
1. The geology uniquely points to Germany Beck as the only militarily significant ditch mentioned in several sources as the place of the battle. The ‘story’ that was introduced by those who want to build a road along Germany Beck suggesting it is a man-made drainage ditch is not simply wrong but disregards the facts (see appendix 1 to annex a for details). This significant geological feature was carved into the hard moraine material by the last retreating ice-sheet and is the only break in the north-south moraine in the zone identified by the various literary sources.
2. Modelling the way the landscape has changed since 1066 allowed the descriptions provided for the battle to be tested. The reconstructed surface provides positive feedback for the literature and does not raise any awkward questions. In fact we extracted many deep cores guided by our study of the literature to test and thereby confirm the landscape model in an interactive way.
3. Understanding the 1066 landscape allows us to make more sense of what was written in Norse sources about the course of the battle. For example, the disposition of King Harald ‘and his best troops’ beside the river, meant they would not have been seen as they would have been in dead ground, allowing them to launch the outflanking manoeuvre. We have two direct accounts confirming the landscape model and two sources that imply support. (appendix 2 to annex A has an image to illustrate this point).
4. A study of the hydrology (provided by The Hydrographer to the Navy) also lets one interpret statements in the literature where, for example, it says the English were slow to respond to the outflanking threat – Access would have been delayed by the way the retreating tide opened the way for the Norse but obstructed the English. This allowed the Norse to force a crossing of the Beck and then to surround those ‘advancing bravely’ at the ford as the literature states.(appendix 2 to annex A has three images to illustrate this point).
5. The emergence of substantial quantities of ferrous material just south of the Beck, reinforces the claim of Germany Beck as the place of the battle. These notable concentrations of ferrous finds, including, tools, axes and other shaped billets, were co-located with hearth-bottoms, slag, charcoal, and tuyères fragments.
6. The analysis of the finds was intentionally delayed until the landscape and literature had been understood because we did not want to disrupt the pre-planned statistical modelling. The unexpected emergence of what is a unique collection of finds powerfully corroborates the model of the battle already developed using different methods. This should have provided the decisive test for the location hypothesis but instead it promoted a campaign of misleading information when its existence was notified.
7. Another ferrous collection suggests the possibility that some weapon fragments were awaiting reprocessing as they were found close to one of the hearth bottoms. It will be exiting to investigate this in due course because there are indications that accoutrements for horses, such as shoe-nails and spurs were being made at the nearby hearth. The unique design of Norse horseshoes and shoe-nails was noted by Prof Anna Pederson of Copenhagen Museum.The literature shows that horses were being employed by the Norse invaders just a few days later so it makes sense for the re-cycling sites to be making these items. It was extremely frustrating to be denied access to pursue this especially as a collection of weapon fragments was found nearby and are of a suitable weight to make horseshoe-nails.
8. The advice report states that the ferrous collection ‘is not overtly military in character’. On the contrary, the shape of the billets suggests very strongly a military, rather than a civil use. The isolated nature of the hearth-sites, and we have seven possible locations to investigate, do not conform to any recognised patterns for the location for such metal-working near dwellings or ‘building sites’. No suggestions have been forthcoming to explain these remote metal-working areas nor why so much material and so many tools have been abandoned. The file ‘RoyalArmouries AAA_06_Jones’ is supplied so that those reviewing this designation report can judge for themselves.
9. The identification of similar hearth debris by others in recent years which corresponds to the pattern that had been predicted provides more corroboration for location. It is strange that the annex to the designation report did not mention these finds after they were notified during the consultation phase. Conversely, revisions to the annex seek to cast doubt on the relevance of any ferrous material recovered on ancient battlefield, but they completely fail to address what was found at Fulford.
10. The soil survey work suggests that there might be a number of charcoal-producing pits associated with the metal work. This is particularly interesting as it is known that Norse metal workers of that era dug pits to produce charcoal. The interpretation provided here is of post-battle reprocessing. There was not one centrally organised workshop since the number, and spread of hearths, suggests a ‘gold rush’, perhaps with each warband processing material.
11. These hearth-sites correspond very closely to the assumed area of the fighting and no similar sites were found in the surrounding area which was also extensively surveyed during the hunt for the Fulford battlesite. It is therefore suggested that the work was disrupted by the defeat of the invaders at Stamford Bridge, just five days after their victory at Fulford. This is an important assumption as it helps explain why so much material was abandoned at Fulford in a pattern that has not yet been found elsewhere. The interrupted-reprocessing hypothesis was been published by The Royal Armouries in June 2012 and has been presented at four other international conferences.
12. The physical evidence recovered at Fulford would explain why sites of similar antiquity, such as Hastings, have failed to yield a single weapon fragment. If the recycling work had not been interrupted, but had been completed at Fulford, only hearth debris would have been found. The Fulford site might be unique, and of immense importance to our study of ancient battlefields. Much remains to be discovered and uncovered on the site when access restrictions are lifted.
13. Since publication, more finds have been brought to my attention that fit the model predicted. We can be confident that the pattern of hearths found to the south of Germany Beck will be matched along the north side.
Almost as important as the evidence that has emerged was that [during our research] no contra-indicators were found to cast doubt on the Germany Beck site nor were any consistent pointers to other locations identified, even though much work was devoted to searching for alternative sites before Germany Beck was nominated as the locus for the battle of 1066. The project was not designed to prove that the area of Germany Beck was the site of the battle - The project set out to find the location of the battle. By contract, he work by MAP does not put forward any credible alternative location despite the obvious interest of the developers in locating alternative sites.
The nature of the ephemeral evidence left by battlesites of this antiquity requires a holistic approach to the data that links the literature, landscape and finds. Absolute or scientific certainty is not required when assessing the location of a battlesite. However, by any sensible meaning of the word, the work that has been extensively reported ‘proves’ beyond reasonable doubt that the site of the battle took place along Germany Beck.
Without any doubt it meets what the Designation Guidelines says is ‘a fair degree of probability’. The site of Fulford goes well beyond this as a study of the interlocking evidence reveals.
Related sites Facebook Twitter (@ helpsavefulford) Visiting Fulford Map York
The author of the content is Charles Jones - email@example.com Last updated April 2015
This site does not use any cookies - so nothing is knowingly installed on your computer when browsing