York City Planning documents online
Kindle edition of Finding Fulford is now available
Unlike most archaeological investigations, we knew that no single piece of evidence was going to be conclusive - One sword or axe head cannot define a battlesite. And because no sites of this antiquity have yielded any weapons, or recognisable fragments, we had no reason to believe that Fulford would be any different.
There were really two, logical stages to the project:
So the 'finding' objective meant that we had to look at an extensive area and gather whatever it had to offer. Once we had a candidate site the collected material from that area could be interpreted. But it was invaluable to have material collected in the same way from the other areas for comparison.
So we devised a broad project to discover where that battle took place.
The Methodology employed is outlined.
Below are the sections which roughly correspond to the methodology that was planned. These are the components of the research that are reported in 'Finding Fulford' which contains the analysis and conclusions.
2. Landscape studies allowed the surface on which the battle was fought in 1066 to be reconstructed
Work began in 2001. Over 5000 metal items were recovered during the monthly fieldworking during 03/04.
All of the material recovered has been subjected to XRF examination. This has confirmed that none of the material contain any modern alloying elements but there is an intriguing pattern of trace impurities which might indicate that the iron comes from a number of discrete sources.
This pattern of finds appears to be unique. Why should tools and finished material be abandoned? The explanation offered is that the metal workers were forced to flee 5 days after the battle of Fulford when the Norse invaders were not simply defeated, but apparently almost wiped out, by King Harold at Stamford Bridge and their base at Riccall. Flooding and the remoteness of this site has allowed much of this material to survive.
The importance of this site cannot be overstated because in archeological terms it offers the prospect of a 'Pompey' moment with the activities of the metal workers frozen in time.
The subsurface structure is revealing. It explains why the Beck breaks through to the river at that point. The geology does not reveal any other drainage ditches in the vicinity of Fulford or indeed between Fulford and York. No drain could have existed for at least a kilometre north or south of the proposed site. The location of a significant ditch, with associated wet lands, is important because it is identified in the literature.
One key finding was the steady deposit of alluvial material caused by tidal flooding as it allowed the development of the fording place across the beck to be understood. This tidal flooding has added over 1mm each year. It should be of concern to planners that even though the lock at Naburn now prevents the tide reaching up river, the rate of deposition soon recovered as exceptional flood events brought alluvial material onto the land and has maintained the historic rate of deposition. This has been ignored in the flood planning for the proposed development.
Core samples have plotted the line of the Beck which can be traced back to the retreat of the last ice sheet. The alignment of the paleo-channel explains the current route that the Beck takes towards the river.
There is environmental evidence that the Ings existed in 1066 and were just as wet and so an unsuitable place for a battle.
The geology therefore precludes much of the area of our research as suitable locations for fighting.
4. Topography and Maps
The suggested site at Fulford is on the direct route from Riccall to York. The location of the old roads is far from certain. However, there are a limited number of identifiable routes. However the modern routes linking modern settlements follow the underlying geology south of the site suggesting that these are the 'natural' routes. A community walk along a new footpath from Riccall to Fulford took 2 hours.
Apart from periodic flooding, the area has seen little change. The silt deposited by the regular flooding would have been matched by the flushing effect from the catchment area, extending as far as Heslington, drained by the Beck.
However, heavier material gradually built up along the bank beside the river, creating the alluvial plains behind this dam. This embankment provided a causeway between the river and the Ings.
The only significant change to the area under examination was when spoil from construction of the Ring Road was dumped to raise the area between the cemetery and the A19 above the flood level. This area is at the very centre of the suggested battle site and the previous layout is consistent with the literature which describes weaker elements of King Harald of Norway's army being sent into a swampy area against which Earl Morcar's troop made some progress before becoming bogged down, surrounded and destroyed. The cores taken in this area confirm the interpretation of the battle given on this site.
6. The environment
Most of the Ings, with the exception of the area of the suggested battle site is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) managed by English Nature. Consultation with them did not yield the hoped for soil profiles which might allow the age and history of the area adjacent to the river to be plotted. English Nature is concerned with the surface. But in their view, this environment has been stable for at least 1000 years with the drier parts of the Ings providing summer grazing for sheep.
A collection of the various strands of evidence about the number of troops taking part in the battle.
8. The Tidal Ouse & York as a tidal port
Colin Briden has kindly let us reproduce his work on the tide in the Ouse. The ebb and flow of the river is relevant to any interpretation of the battle.
So what did all of this produce......
Evidence presented to the public inquiry:
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The author of the content is Charles Jones - email@example.com Last updated June 2014
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