Fulford Battlefield Research Website


Errors & omissions
 Recording the events of September 1066
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The Fulford Tapestry Website

Scandal of WSI
Errors & omissions
Projects required
pre action letter

York City Planning documents online


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The Final Report

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Kindle edition of Finding Fulford is now available

The Fulford Tapestry


Visiting Fulford

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The paragraph references refer to the version of the Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) on the York web portal. The document is undated and but has the reference version D.

Part 1 – Errors and Omissions in the Commentary of work previously undertaken

1.1 ‘Condition 12 states that no development shall commence on site until a scheme of archaeological work has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority.’

Action: This statement needs to be clarified as the conditions say that some work is pre-development, and there are valid archaeological reasons why such work should be done before any building work is done. The WSI should make clear that all pre-development investigations will be completed before any construction or groundwork is undertaken to resolve the ambiguity. Development cannot commence as soon as the WSI is approved in writing – the pre-development work must logically be completed first.

2.3 It talks of the site being bounded on the south by Germany Beck.

Action: Factual error needs correction. The red-line site extends well to the south of Germany Beck.

3.2This introductory remark in the WSI claims to spans the whole of the archaeological work and claims that it conformed to all national guidelines. But it makes no mention of the involvement of English Heritage and especially their interest in locating the battlesite of Fulford. English Heritage were engaged directly in trying to bring focus to the battlesite until March 2005, refusing to approve the application because of the ‘inadequately specification’ of the archaeology to identify the battle site. Two other claims about conforming to recognised standards are disputed. First, there was clear national guidance at the time that required the site to be surveyed for metal. It was never logical or in accordance with planning guidance that such critical research should only be undertaken after planning permission was granted. Second, the WSI also claims that an EIA was undertaken. An EIA should have been done prior to the consideration of the reserved matters or extension of time application, but this was not deemed necessary by council officers who said there was ‘no new evidence’.

Actions:1 The views expressed by EH about Germany Beck being the likely battlefield and the assessment of their Battlefields Panel that the site should be designated form part of the objective narrative in the section that claims to set the scene.

2 This paragraph should also record the extensive work that was undertaken by the Fulford Battlefield Society (FBS) because the summary purports to set the scene for the archaeological investigations on the site.

                3 An Environmental Impact Assessment should be prepared and considered prior to assessing the WSI. Most of the archaeological work was undertaken over 15 years ago. The officers are wrong in claiming there is no new evidence. 

3.3The text is unclear. Condition 12 is for the whole site. Work required for any ‘haul route’ is the same as for the rest of the site. And there is no provision within the conditions saying that“ the WSI will be reviewed and amended as development of the site progresses.”

Action: If the WSI wishes to say that they will prepare subsequent application to approve the work planned for the internal roads and building (e) and the in-line ponds (f) that is what they should say. But they should note that the wording of the condition is explicit - there must be ‘A pre-development metal detecting survey of the site.’ This is the first condition and it must be respected to the letter. I fought hard to get this work done before permission was granted, as planning guidance required, and I must now insist that the work on the whole site is completed ‘pre-development’. Finally, if Persimmon wish to introduce a process to review or amend any the work set out in an agreed WSI, there must be a formal and public consultative process. 

4.1 The WSI is not an advertising or a ‘sales’ document.Persimmon’s investigation was not comprehensive. There has been no metal detection, no soil sampling or biochemistry, no GPR, no battlefield archaeology, no work to investigate the series of hearths where access was blocked and there was a very limited programme of environmental archaeology.  The early work was limited and conventional in its approach and subject to critical reports by academics. However, this section is entitled ‘ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK UNDERTAKEN ON THE SITE IN CONNECTION TO THE PLANNING APPLICATION’. The work is summarised in a single sentence saying how good it was while five pages are devoted to reporting the recent excellent work undertaken on the adjacent landscape.

Actions: 1 Instead of claiming it was ‘comprehensive’, the WSI should be factual and could note that the work was specified over 15 years ago and techniques and technology have moved on. The WSI should note how the work scheme will attempt to bring the work up to date and insert a section to explain what was going to be done to bring the work up to a modern standard.(This defect is discussed in more detail below).

2 The whole document should be edited to remove word such as ‘intensive’, ‘thorough’, ‘comprehensive‘. I have noted above why these words are not appropriate. Furthermore, the public had the right to expect that work was properly conducted and supervised so these words are superfluous. Their inclusion seeks to give the lay reader the impression that the archaeological work has not been subject to severe criticism from a number of sources.  One can read extensive criticism of the archaeological work in the English Heritage planning files for Germany Beck!

3 A summary of the archaeological work that was done should be inserted to the WSI. Although there is no doubting the quantity of work undertaken, its relevance to understanding the landscape and providing a narrative for the area is sadly rather limited. A reader might be led to believe that the following five pages in section 4 refer to Germany Beck rather than Heslington East.

4 On the subject of spin, later in this WSI we read many red-herrings and encounter innuendo which all serve to conceal rather than honestly reveal the criticisms that have been aimed at the archaeological work. The WSI employs hyperbole to disguise what has actually inadequate archaeological work. This document must be subject to a proper academic review before it can be considered as the basis for the discharge of a planning condition.

The City Planners should not allow this WSI to rewrite history. The work was inadequate and they should expect to see proposals later in the document to address the deficiencies.

4.2 Moving onto the interesting report of the work at Heslington East which is inserted into the WSI, John Oxley actually required Persimmon to address the issues that had arisen from work at the new campus when they applied for reserved matters consent. This was new information and should have prompted a reassessment prior to consideration of reserved matters in accordance with EIA rules. It is unclear that cataloguing the work from Heslington fulfils this obligation and the work should already have been done according to the EIA rules. The draft report of the Heslington work could not be any clearer about the way conventional archaeology had failed.This is what the preliminary report from Heslington notes:

“For other sites situated on the moraine, the most significant implication arising from the work is the discovery of multi-period archaeology, of some significance, which was previously unrecognised despite the application of the usual prospection techniques in advance of development.” [1]

At Heslington it was recognised that the conventional archaeological techniques such as were adopted for Germany Beck might have failed to reveal significant archaeology. Given this unambiguous warning about archaeological ‘surprises’ concealed by this landscape, one  might expect to see some mitigation or contingency planning, but one would be disappointed.

Action: A credible monitoring system must be part of the WSI with contingency planning to halt development work since the layout has been approved without the required re-assessment work being done.

4.3 For a reader to make any sense of what follows maps and charts listing the places, areas and zones need to be inserted. This will help dispel the impression that theworks being reported are from Germany Beck. Th.

Action: As well as providing maps, any relevant extracts should be properly referenced. Since the WSI quite rightly notes the relevance of the Heslington work, what is going to be done to exploit this fresh archaeological understanding? It should be explained, with references to the projects in this WSI, to show that relevant archaeology is being applied to a landscape that we know has been occupied since Neolithic times. The maps should show all trenches, areas, zones and names referenced in the WSI. If the WSI is intended to reveal, rather than conceal, it must be properly documented. 4.3-4.5.13

4.3.1This para says: The results of ground modelling of the site at the present time are not available however the recent work at Heslington East provides a good indicator for the potential of the site.’To note that Heslington ‘provides a good indicator of the potential of the site’ is true and tantalising. The WSI cannot simply accept the model from the adjacent site without conducting some tests on the Germany Beck site. At Heslington it was recognised that the conventional archaeological techniques such as were adopted for Germany Beck might have failed to reveal significant archaeology.

Action: The WSI should say how they intend to capitalise on what we discovered about archaeological investigation and potential on this terrain. This should sit alongside the metal detecting survey as work to be undertaken before development work begins as it might prevent lengthy suspension of work during the project when important archaeology is uncovered. The WSI should propose a plan to try to identify the many features that the evidence suggests their earlier techniques will have missed.

4.4.8Makes no mention of the significant C14 date provided from this work unlike all the previous paragraphs where C14 findings, and the relevance of the dates, is quoted. The C14 date in the case of the land at the heart of the battle was perhaps omitted because it destroys the conclusion of the HLA which proposed that the beck was a man-made ditch from a time after the battle.(see also 4.5.12 below)

Action: The C14 datings, and the relevance of the dates, should be inserted. Dr Alan Hall reported that “At the base, an alder twig was dated to 2060+_35BP ( 73BCE)  and a sedge nutlet from the top sample gave a date of 1385+-35BP (636CE).” This timescale spans the late Iron Age to the Anglian or mid Saxon era. In Finding Fulford I noted “It is possible that the peat continued to grow after that time but the later layers could have been removed by cutting. However, the terminal date of around 600CE matches the model for flooding. Around this date the growth of the peat might have been checked by the influx of alluvium from the Ings.” I would now add that it proves that the surface of this part of Germany Beck existed at the time of the battle of Fulford, contradicting assertions made throughout the planning process by the developers, a false view which was  supported by the city’s archaeologist and the relevant EH official. The C14 data says that they were wrong.

Earlier (4.1) I challenged the claim of a ‘comprehensive’ programme of archaeology and note one particular inaccuracy. Some work submitted by the developers as part of their planning application had claimed this C14 work had been undertaken. This data was only provided after I pointed out the omission. However, none of those responsible for providing or scrutinising the archaeology have acknowledged that it undermined the key claim that Germany Beck did not exist at the time of the battle. The public authorities and their experts should be using the opportunity provided by the WSI to address the failings in their own supervisory work. If they fail to rigorously scrutinise this WSI they will be open to the accusation that they are covering up their own failures.

4.5.14This statement is unclear and lacks the detail provided elsewhere in what the heading calls a summary of previous work as it ignores much work. The statement also goes well beyond what the evidence tells us about pre-conquest location of settlements in Fulford. My published assessment of the evidence points to St Oswald’s Road as the real ‘settlement’ until the post-conquest development was created where the present village of Fulford now stands. But evidence is lacking to say that a settlement on the site of the present Fulford pre-dates the Conquest. While I would like to accept that there was one ford across Germany Beck, it was my conclusion after studying soil-core samples over the very extensive area of Fulford that it had many, muddy fords although the one near the modern A19 was the most extensive.

Action: The paragraph might record the evidence of the alluvium that has been recorded at the ford near Stone Bridge showing that this was within the tidal reach of the river and justifying the term ‘fule’ for the ford.The paragraph might also note that the name helps confirm that Germany Beck was a feature of the landscape in 1066 and remove the silly speculations that follow which pretend that Germany Beck was shaped in the centuries after 1066. This paragraph about the origin, and possible, meaning of names would sit better as part of para 4.6.2.

4.5.15Section 4.5 is headed ‘Roman’ while 4.6 is headed ‘Medieval’. The authors of the WSI may see it as comic to report the battle of Fulford as Roman. Others might see it as an example of the style of careless arrogance which is so typical of the way the Persimmon and MAP, their archaeological advisors, have dealt with the Battle of Fulford. I cannot deny that Persimmon have been successful in their attempts to marginalise the issue of locating the battle.I misplaced my trust in the integrity of professional archaeologists as well as the planning system that has accepted data from the developers that it was told, and could be shown to be, false. So I should not now be surprised that Persimmon include this important battle in the wrong era and then attempt to dismiss the real evidence while continuing to promote misleading and wrong data within the WSI.

Action: The evidence for the battle of Fulford needs a heading of its own within the mediaeval section of the WSI.

4.5.15Stating that “The location for the battle is open to conjecture”, is facile. It fails to cite the universal opinion that Germany Beck is the likely place of the battle. The WSI tries to confuses conjecture about the location of the battle with a debate about exactly how secure the evidence is and the precise extent of the battle site. But alongside the Designation debate It should be noted that investigation to produce the evidence have been blocked and no relevant work was undertaken that would have allowed us to test the physical evidence of post-battle metal recycling and obtain dating evidence to confirm the location of the battle. The WSI should be specifying the work necessary to answer the questions that have been raised. It is the purpose of the WSI is to address areas of conjecture. Perhaps the authors hoped that uncritical minds will overlook this muddled expression about the location of the battle. For example, talking about left and right make no sense on the ground unless you know which way you are facing. And the early sources place the battle across a ditch with the river on one flank and a marsh on the other – they misplace even these basic features. If the WSI is going to deal with secondary sources for location of the battle, Finding Fulford must be mentioned.

Actions: 1 This is an official, public document and we are entitled to expect that it will present a balanced assessment of the evidence. This paragraph should cite the published evidence and quote from the advice report prepared by EH pointing to Germany Beck as the site of the battle. The views from the developer and John Oxley, that seek to cast some doubt on the site,must be balanced by views that point to the site.

2 The planning rules that protect heritage, based on its probable location, must be inserted to allow an informed appraisal of the deficiencies in the work scheme that is being proposed here. Armed with the planning guidance an informed observer will be able to recognise that it only by completely denying Germany Beck as the location for the battle that the developers are able to disguise the way the rules with respect to our heritage have not been followed. The following extracts from the NPPF are relevant:

139. Non-designated heritage assets of archaeological interest that are demonstrably of equivalent significance to scheduled monuments, should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets.

132. When considering the impact of a proposed development on the significance of a designated heritage asset, great weight should be given to the asset’s conservation. The more important the asset, the greater the weight should be. Significance can be harmed or lost through alteration or destruction of the heritage asset or development within its setting. As heritage assets are irreplaceable, any harm or loss should require clear and convincing justification.

So absolute denial that the battle took place here has been Persimmon’s only option because even non-designated heritage assets “should be considered subject to the policies for designated heritage assets”.

4.5.16 This paragraph deals with two matters, the field walking in 1996 and the relevance of the statement about fieldwalking among the WSI section on ‘recent work’ is unclear. It was part of the original work. The paragraph goes on to talk about various excavations along the line of the proposed access road, also not ‘recent work’. But since they mention it here, I have evidence to show their work is wrong (set out in my introduction) and remedial work is set out in project 1 in section 2 (on page xx) of these comments. These incomplete and incorrect reports are included here with the single purpose of suggesting to the reader that they looked for the battlesite but found no evidence.

Action 1: The paragraph should be split. First, the location should also be made clear since the battlefield investigation has not been able to visit this land. The areas where the land was investigated and reported, are not mentioned anywhere in the ‘recent work’. The collections of hearth finds that were published in the Journal of the Royal Armouries must merit a mention! This is a red herring to suggest that there is nothing surviving from the time of the battle. The WSI should reference their own fieldwalking so that a reader can check these statements about the absence of Anglo-Saxoner a items compared with items from other eras. Given what follows the paragraph might be seen as a crude attempt to persuade readers that the battle did not take place here.

Action 2: The information is largely wrong. To avoid repetition, I refer to project 1 in part 2 of this documents which provides the evidence to show that the statements made in the WSI about the land beside the A19 are wrong. I again question why this is noted here since the excavations are not ‘recent work’ and appears to be providing misinformation.

4.5.17This section should be amended to state that the Fulford Battlefield Society was formed following an initiative from YAT to bring various interested parties together and I was elected to head the Society that was eventually formed in order to apply for Lottery Funding. The Society was formed by people who had previously been investigating the location of the battle. See 4.5.18 (next below) for comments about work on the site by the developers’ in 2002. This work resulted when I responded to a planning application in 2000 when, as a resident of Fulford, I wanted to ensure that the existence of the battlefield had been considered. I repeat, the formation of the group to look for the battle was an initiative from YAT.

Action: The information should be corrected.

4.5.18I have noted on many occasions that the trenches opened in 2002 were not at the agreed locations and the work took place without me being there which was one of the agreed conditions. So the work did not fulfil the agreed conditions.  When I complained, it was agreed that the archaeologist in charge, Anne Finney, should take me round the site to explain the work that had been done. I have set out the unseemly events of the site visit in my introduction. Anne Finney provided me with answers that I now have very good evidence to believe were misleading. The evidence I have uncovered contradicts what I was told and what MAP published in their archaeological reports to support the planning application. This is discussed below as the first project that needs to be added to the WSI.(See project 1 for details). Had the work required by CYC in 2002 been undertaken as agreed there is a good chance that a significant piece of evidence about the battle’s location might have been identified in 2002. I regret that I accepted the replies to my question in good faith and trusted in the professionalism of the archaeologists serving the public.,

Action: The false assertions should be removed and corrected to reflect what actually happened. I am still asking CYC for the work, mandated by the planning committee, should be undertaken.  See project 1 in part 2 of this document.

4.5.19It is unfortunate that the geophysics report was not shared with those undertaking the battlefield research. When this was first seen in May 2013 I was able to note that the perfect match between the ferrous identified on the geophysics and the ferrous finds recovered during the battlefield research project. CYC, English Heritage and the developers all had in their possession the information to show that the ferrous material found by the battlefield project matched the geophysics. Yet they all agreed that the request for access to the land should be denied meaning that the Battlefield Society could do no further investigations of the recycling hearth areas along Germany Beck. The motives for this refusal should now be explained and justified. The public archaeologists at CYC and EH have been asked to justify their complicity in this refusal but have so far failed to do so. (See image page 19)

Action: A full project to investigate the possible recycling hearth should be undertaken. This matter should immediately be reported to the Secretary of State since it reflects a failure of the planning system to follow EIA regulations.  The project required is project 2 (page 18) and includes a map of the hearths plotted onto the geophysics plot that is reported in this paragraph.

4.5.20 I again note that this information related to recent work at Heslington but was part of the original work undertaken by Persimmon. To include it in a section that implies that they searched for but failed to find the battle. In a blazing row between myself and Anne Finney that took place in front of members of York University, members of the public and some of her staff, I extracted a promise that my team would be informed when they dug these trenches and that we would attend with some metal detectorists. We were, of course, not informed but subsequently investigated the spoil heaps. Some interesting items were recovered that matched the debris from the hearth areas (they were all missed by the trenches) which were returned to MAP as was appropriate. However, MAP reported no work on the finds and disposed of the evidence. 

Action: MAP must be asked to account for these further failures in their work and made to remedy them. It cannot be right that by failing to do work and misreporting the results, a developer is able to secure an advantage.

4.5.22 Stating that “The report [the revised HLA] concluded that there was no evidence to locate the battle on the proposed development site” fails to recognise that the conclusions of this report has been much criticised and the speculations advanced as evidence can be shown to be wrong. (see comments on 4.4.8 above) This is playing with words: Saying that ‘the report’ concluded there was no evidence is correct but it fails to note that this report was strongly criticised when it was sent out for ‘consultation’. This ‘consultation’ however took place after the HLA had been accepted by CYC and EH. None of the criticism or counter evidence offered has ever been presented by the planning staff to those who make the decisions. I do however note the reference to EH consultation to make ‘more rigorous referencing’ and have produced a separate document to cover the role of EH in helping to modify the HLA to make a flawed report acceptable. Details of the role of English Heritage are available among the papers provided to the High Court as evidence.

Action: There is no way to remedy the flawed conclusion of the HLA, which EH say they relied on to withdraw their objection to the planning application. This statement cannot be included in the WSI because it is wrong. It is alarming to recognise how it underpins the case set out by the developers’. An accurate assessment, perhaps based on the very critical comments for the Battlefield Trust, provided in April 2005, should be inserted. Once the way the planning process has been misled is recognised, a way must be found to reassess the permission to build the access road and pond-system as it was based on false information which this latest version of the WSI has only marginally modified to reflect the criticisms from John Oxley and English Heritage.

4.5.23The single metal detecting programme from the developers took place just prior to the public inquiry. This survey demonstrated that this land had been used as a path since there was a clear track of 20th century coins diagonally across the land. This evidence was presented when the land was claimed as a common but the inspector failed to note this evidence of the metal detecting in his judgement. It was just one of three examples I presented to show that the land had been used quite freely by a public for a period well exceeding the time required by statute to assert the public claim to use it as common land. I note this simply to show how poor those in authority are at taking note of evidence that get in the way of their desired conclusion.

Action:Since this statement is set among a number of claims that attempt to justify why no work is planned to look for the battlesite, the text should note that the regular flooding means that the surface of 1066 is below the detection reach of metal detectorists. The WSI should note the advice given in Finding Fulford on selecting and preparing areas for metal detecting. It should also note that they are required to remove the surface material to investigate the peat below so metal objects from earlier eras might yet be found in this area.

4.5.24The concluding statement of this paragraph is wrong in stating that the work did not reach a clear conclusion and claiming that “there is no information that firmly locates the battle site within the proposed development area.” Contrary to what is stated in the WSI, the Lottery-funded work reached a confident conclusion. It is noted in para 5.2.4 notes there is a ‘widely held belief that the battle of Fulford was fought within the development area’. So the WSI should address why many people hold this belief.

The WSI is playing with words when talking about ‘firmly location the battle site’. It is only the unsupportable conclusions of the HLA outlined above, the absurd proposals for alternative locations provided by Paula Ware on behalf of the developers to English Heritage and the misinformed comments about the literature from John Oxley that prevented the site being designated, according to the decision published by EH. This decision is still subject to a legal challenge based on the way it ignored favourable evidence and promoted false data.

Action: The WSI must report the facts. The paragraph should reflect the consensus that the battle took place along Germany Beck noting only that more evidence is needed to firmly locate it and then addressing exactly how this will be done. They might usefully include my summary that was published as a result of a decade of investigation and analysis since it deals with what we know and what we still need to discover. It says:

“This report sets out a confident hypothesis for the location, plus a number of conjectures, based on the body of evidence and research that has been undertaken around Fulford to find the site of the battle that took place on 20th September 1066, the first of the three battle of that autumn.

“The report finds that the literature identifies a location south of York and the geology uniquely points to Germany Beck as the only militarily significant ditch mentioned in several sources as the place of the battle. Modelling the way the landscape has changed since 1066 allows the literature descriptions provided for the battle, to be tested. The reconstructed surface provides positive feedback for the literature and helps to make more sense of what was written in Norse sources about the course of the battle.

“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. Another collection suggests the possibly that some weapon fragments were awaiting reprocessing as they were found close to one of the hearth bottoms.

“The shape of the billets suggests a military rather than a civil use and the isolated nature of the sites, do not conform to recognised patterns for the location for such metal-working. The soil survey work suggests that there might be a number of charcoal-producing pits associated with the metal work and 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. These sites were found to corresponded closely to the assumed area of the fighting and no similar sites were found in the surrounding area which was also surveyed.

“It is also suggested that the work was disrupted by the defeat of the invaders at Stamford Bridge, five days after the 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 also explains why other sites of similar antiquity have failed to yield a single weapon fragment. If the recycling work had been completed, only hearth debris would have been found, so the Fulford site might be unique.

“So much material has emerged that it allows a clear and confident description of the battlesite to be proposed because all the reprocessing sites can be well correlated to the probable course of the battle that was derived from the landscape and the literature.

“Setting this out as a hypothesis does not represent any lack of confidence in the picture that has emerged. Instead it should be interpreted as an expression of humility because any scientist must recognise that much remains to be discovered and uncovered in the future when new techniques, and greater resources, become available to test the hypothesis.

“Almost as important as the evidence that has emerged was that no contra-indicators were found to cast doubt on the proposed site nor were any consistent pointers to another location identified, even though much work was devoted to searching for alternate sites before Germany Beck was identified as the locus. 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.

“The investigation of the Fulford battlefield is still a work in progress as the work was done under some unnecessarily restrictive conditions. A chapter is devoted to new or confirmatory work that needs to be undertaken. The evidence suggests that the site still has much to reveal. These follow-on projects will help test if Germany Beck is indeed the place of the battle.

“The nature of battle sites of this antiquity requires a holistic appraisal of the data. However, by any sensible meaning of the word, the work reported here ‘proves’ that the site of the battle took place along Germany Beck. A public debate is overdue to define some rules and tests that can be applied to define battlefields.”   Finding Fulford 2010

4.6.2Mixing old Norse and old English together in place names is not normal and no examples of the type of etymological mixing suggested in the WSI. So introducing the speculation about bodies into the place name of Naburn is academically unsound. The name is more likely to mean a ‘narrow stream’ or an ‘island in a stream’ where both parts of the name are from the same etymological origin. There is no good sensible evidence for the origin of the name Wheldrake. But the suggestion provided by the WSI again mixes etymologies. It should also be noted that both names predate the battle of 1066 so the speculation about bodies cannot have the slightest relevance to the battle of Fulford or any archaeology at Fulford.

Action: The desire to introduce questionable speculations about ‘bodies’ into name from sites that are geographically distant from any sensible location for the battle of Fulfordfurther undermines the credibility and motivation for the WSI. The WSI should provide a full gazetteer of nearby place names or remove these silly speculations the motivation for which is open to question.

4.6.19This paragraph makes two statements. The first is that Germany Beck is straight and aligned east-west. The second statement, which makes up most of the text of this paragraph, talks about the eastern end where the beck meets the west and east moors.

It is the shorter, straight part of Germany Beck which this paragraph does no explore, that is the location of the battle. It should be stated that there is a consensus that the battle took place along the section of Germany Beck that is carved through the moraine and reaches to the river Ouse as described in the literary sources

Moving to the body of this paragraph, while very little in history is ‘completely unambiguous’ (sic) there can be little doubt that many ditches were created in the flat moors which are documented from the 13th century. These man-made drainage ditches are not obstacles to armies but they do locate the marshy lands that are referred to in the various literary sources we have about the battle. The fact that they were not recorded as being drained until after the time of the battle is consistent with the literary evidence for locating the battle along the western section of Germany Beck where the beck breaches the moraine.

In this context it is worth looking at 4.7.10 because it can also be argued that the dyke under discussion is the boundary which links to the Stone Cross and then runs down the almost-lost Green Dykes Lane to a landing stage on the river Ouse (close to the modern millennium bridge).  In Finding Fulford I quote other charters that deal with what happens when York’s cattle stray over the ‘new dyke’ onto Fulford’s common land. This would put the New Dike referred to in the St Mary’s charter into the northern area of Walmgate Stray. It is all fascinating but an irrelevant attempt to link the name of ‘Germany Beck’ to a drainage ditch several kilometres away from the fording place where any informed observer would place the battle. The claim made in the WSI are certainly not ‘completely unambiguous’.

Action: Insert the statement to explain that the consensus has the battle taking place along the section of Germany Beck that is carved through the moraine and reaches to the river Ouse as described in the literature.  Inserting a map would make the statements intelligible to readers and allow a meaningful consultation on the contents of the WSI. I suspect that there are only three people who are familiar with the locations, namely John Oxley, Paula Ware and myself, and this is a public document that will, if things go ahead, form a part of the well-documented project that is promised later. So remove, or expand, the fascinating tale of land reclamation and the role of Germany Beck as the drain to the river. But also make it clear that the deep, wide west end of the beck is the likely location of the battle.

4.6.20 The continued insistence that “Germany Beck would appear to be the ‘New Dike’..” needs to refer to the confusion the author has attempted to create in the previous paragraph. The New Dike would NOT appear to be the relevant section of Germany Beck or indeed any part of the natural route for the beck in 1066. Using LIDAR it was possible to trace the faint, ‘natural’ course of Germany Beck flowing through what are now the University playing fields and on toward the centre of Heslington village. There are two other tributaries entering from the south that can be traced plus a number of other paleo-channels and beside these two of the metal recycling sites were reported. All of the straight, probably man-made ditches, join Germany Beck from the north.  There is absolutely no basis for implying that Germany Beck was not already an existing drain or that this new drainage ditch somehow created Germany Beck. We know beyond any possible doubt that Germany Beck pre-existed these drainage ditches. To try and imply that a drainage ditch ‘created’ Germany Beck is a dishonest.

Action: Remove the whole ‘would appear’ statement. This is another attempt to try and justify the false conclusion of the HLA. The speculation should be removed from the WSI which purports to be reporting credible archaeology. State the facts clearly. Germany Beck provided the breach in the moraine which allowed those in subsequent centuries to drain the wetland by linking to this natural feature. The WSI might also draw on the evidence reported in Finding Fulford that the breach in the moraine was carved to release the glacial melt-water and leave the flat, wet land in the east which includes the site of the University.

4.6.22 The WSI is determined to promote their misinformed speculation that Germany Beck may be man-made. This is simply untrue and however many times it is repeated will not alter the geological facts about the origins of this breach in the moraine that drained the hinterland as the ice-sheet retreated north about 13000 BCE.

Action: State the facts rather than repeating a discredited speculation that tries to give readers the impression that there is the slightest possibility that Germany Beck did not exist in its present course at the time of the battle in 1066. Germany Beck was there in 1066. Geology and C14 dating prove this.

4.6.23Under the guidance of YAT we looked for evidence of the presumed Roman road that was thought to provide the eastern boundary of Fulford since locating roads is important to locating battles. However no evidence was discovered and subsequent discussion with YAT about their work on the Ring Road led us to conclude that the possible road was probably a natural surface. Indeed the work on Campus 3 and at Dunnington have revealed similar ‘road’-like surfaces. Similar ‘road surfaces’ have been found crossing the beck and at the cemetery during grave preparation. Confusingly, many stone that are commonly used to construct an agger have been located in this area so there is scope for some more investigation to resolve the existence and possible location of any Roman track or road.

Action: Amend the information and introduce an archaeological assessment to look for the possible boundary road in the WSI. It would be a good project.

4.6.25 It is not clear what the words ‘non-designated sites in Fulford..’ means.

Action: Clarify what this paragraph means. A formal list of all of the reports of archaeological finds that cover this area should be provided since there is no single catalogue among the developers’ literature. This forms part of the proper documentation that is promised. It would benefit frombeing prepared now to advise the preparation of the WSI. I can provide a list of several thousand items that were recovered during the research for the battlefield.

4.7.4 I think this statement is incomplete. This is what I wrote in Finding Fulford:

“In 1895 the East Riding County Council directed that both townships were to be known as Water Fulford and this indeed is the name that is generally used in trade listings such as contemporary trade directories like Kelly's.

“Because Water Fulford appears in terms of size to have been very much the ‘junior partner’, this decision must have raised some eyebrows. The tithe maps of 1767 suggests that Water Fulford was open fields with just 6 or 8 dwellings identifiable and nothing in subsequent maps suggests that the place expanded. But this is a strong indicator that what we now know as Fulford is the place known before as Water Fulford.

“Gate Fulford only acquired a church in 1866 and perhaps the archivists of the time felt that the modern village of Fulford was ‘in the territory’ of Water Fulford. If Gate Fulford was properly located at St Oswald’s Road, then the re-naming decision of 1895 could be justified – The post-conquest development of the village was nearer to Water Fulford than Gate Fulford. However, 40 years later, the East Riding Review: Order of 1935 unified the Fulfords and the prefixes were dropped altogether. “


Action: Check and amend the statement – you are welcome to cite the information provided.

5 It is ridiculous not to include a statement about the looking for the evidence of the battle of Fulford among the ‘key research aims and objectives’.

Action:insert ‘to conduct the necessary surveys and sampling to ensure that the evidence for the battle of Fulford can be collected and understood before the site is disturbed’ as one of the key objectives.

5.2.4The question is raised about “any evidence to support the widely held belief that the battle of Fulford was fought within the development area”. But unlike most of the other sections, the WSI does not list the pre-exiting evidence that has promoted the ‘widely held belief’. For myself I would argue that I am not among those who ‘believe’. Rather I am someone who has studied the evidence and it is the evidence that allows anybody who chooses to address it to recognise Germany Beck as the location of the 1066 battle.

Action: Once the many corrections suggested above are made, the WSI will introduce many of the investigations that are necessary to address the widely held belief about the location of the battle especially if the correct methodological approach is adopted. These are set out in part 2.

6The introduction of the ‘strip and recording’ to the current version of the WSI proposal is welcome. The WSI must insert some maps to enable readers to understand what is being proposed. The meaning of ‘The majority of the haul road will have one transect through it’ needs to be clarified. Similarly ‘the online pond area will have transects at 10m intervals. ’The area being defined must be explained for it was explained earlier that the trenching in this area missed the recycling hearths and the undeclared geophysics reinforces these areas as places that need excavation.

Action: The precise areas must be defined before the WSI is accepted as I have no confidence at all in the good faith of Persimmon’s agents to seek out evidence so the locations to be searched must be precisely defined to include, rather than avoid, the evidence for the battle that has already been revealed.

                2 The existence of a number of paleo-channels in the area leading to the on-line ponds means that the proposed .4 m survey depth will not always suffice. There is good LIDAR data to indicate these locations and it is noted that the recycling hearths that have been found have nearly all been close to one of these channels. Therefore surveys should go to a greater depth when the soil profile and LIDAR suggests that there might be an active layer below the proposed limit.

                3 I would further note that the proposed spacing is possibly too large. The compact nature of the recycling sites, visible on the geophysics and reported in Finding Fulford, were very small. It would be possible to miss the sites employing the 2m spacing proposed. A more flexible approach is needed and the term ‘at least’ must be replaced by ‘at a maximum’ as this might ensure the recycling sites are found. The method is good for plotting the scatter. But at Fulford we have evidence that scattered items were concentrated. I am able to assist with some date but the geophysics suggests that the assessment in Finding Fulford that there were many small recycling areas requires the proposed method to be modified.

Action: 1 If the developers want to apply to the Secretary of State for a variation of the planning conditions then they should do that. Otherwise, they should adhere to the conditions that exist which require various actions before any development work is undertaken. There can be no exceptions when one of the key research aims is to identify an ephemeral event like a mediaeval battle.

2 All work must be subject to the full rigour of the WSI once this very poor draft has been amended and agreed.  In particular, the special needs for battlefield archaeology have not been assessed so they must be agreed and inserted into the WSI making special note of the order in which projects need to be undertaken.

3 The relevant experts at EH and the Battlefields Trust must be consulted about the methodology for locating battlefield evidence.

6.6 There must be a yardstick and schedule agreed before the statement about ‘contingency time’ can be allowed. Work such as metal detecting has a seasonal and land-preparation aspect to its schedule. The developer cannot be given a free hand to schedule work since there are times of year when it will be ineffective. The WSI must require that proper preparations and relevant time scales are agreed in advance and only varied with permission.

Action: As worded, there is unlimited scope for the developers to curtail work or schedule it in a way that will avoid the recovery of the available evidence. The WSI must state that the timetable will be agreed and published. A procedure for varying or curtailing work must be through some formal system of approval.

Gross omissions for section 6

There is no programme for the metal detection program that the conditions say must precede any work, including the ‘strip and recording’ along the proposed ‘Haul Road’. The best possible picture of the metal on the surface of the site must be obtained before excavations begin. That is set unambiguously in the conditions and the method must be detailed here. I have asked that it is made consistent with the work already conducted so that the results can be combined. Examples of the information that is required includes, the time of year, the land surface preparation, the method of gridding, method of marking and recovery plus the recording must be explained in the WSI.

The sequence of events that is proposed needs to be clearly set out so that the impact can be understood as the WSI is so vague as to permit almost any action in a way that will completely circumvent the agreed planning conditions. The work to provide a haul road and other works must also be dealt with as a part of the WSI and not, as suggested in the introduction to this section, as somehow separate.  The words of the conditions talk about pre-development. The fragile archaeology of any battlefield can be destroyed by heavy machinery. The ephemeral nature of battlefield research is quite different from the methods to study the debris left you generation of habitation. A battle that lasts just a few hours leaves a subtle footprint on the landscape.

7.13Processing the metal finds: I do not recognise the reference in the WSI to ‘guidance provided by Jones (2006)’. The history book I wrote had no guidance about conserving archaeological iron. The guidance from EH regarding metal from possible medieval battle sites is currently being prepared. This will provide relevant guidance that must be used instead of the general guidance cited.I believe the EH reference cited was revised a decade ago.

I must make the point that it proved challenging to identify the various hearth related items since no other sites have yet been identified, making Fulford the first. No catalogue exists of battlefield recycled finds and these artefacts were only properly identified by Scandinavian experts who have a little more experience of this type of material. It would be sensible to allow those who have experience at identifying these items to have access to the finds when they are being collected or immediately after. Because these were amorphous lumps then there can be no question of sampling. All the iron finds in the area must be considered relevant as explained below. I have also had several useful exchanges with Dr Helen Geake and the PAS so suggest that they are engaged to assist with the sorting of the ferrous material.

I pointed out in the final report on the Fulford work that it was felt appropriate to wait until the whole area had been searched before the various analytical techniques were undertaken.  Once the whole site has been surveyed for metal the items should be subject to a number of investigations including:

1.       Examine the crystal structure of the iron. This can be done by taking thin sections or cutting and polishing a surface. The patterns can reveal much about the working methods employed to forge the metal. A micro-metallurgical analysis of the crystal structure of the tools, anvils and billets as well as the hearth bottoms will help confirm their purpose because iron can exhibit patterns of use at the crystal level. This work might help to identify the true nature of these finds as metal that has been worked (beaten) has a different structure from annealed (heat treated) iron.

2.       In December 2009, Oxford Instruments kindly loaned a portable XRF machine along with an operator: The University of York, Department of Archaeology agreed to provide another technician and one of their laboratories so that we could safely conduct the measurements. There appeared to be patterns of trace elements among the finds and, once the complete assemblage has been tested, it might be possible to associate items that were not found in the reprocessing areas where XRF profiles have been noted. This might allow an unprecedented level of understanding of the battle itself.

The significance of this bears repeating: It might prove possible to relate nondescript fragments scattered round the site to the metal found near the hearths because of their XRF signature. It has never been attempted before, but the ‘orphaned’ item of iron could be related to the battle if they match material at the processing sites, analogous to DNA.

So the archaeological planning for this site should test this hypothesis and conduct a 100% test on all of the iron so that each piece can be plotted across the site. Work to investigate a statistically significant ‘fingerprint’ for the different metals must form a part of the WSI. The use of a hand-held XRF devise makes this a quick and cheap test that can be deployed in the field. (Earlier test conducted in association with Oxford Instruments on surface preparation show that it had little effect on the accuracy of the measurement).  This might be a unique site archaeologically and the opportunity must not be missed.

Other matters relating to the method for collecting metalwork:

1.       The EH recommended strategy for researching metal working sites is to look for hammerscale. Indications from the original work suggest that there are ‘phantom’ fragments of iron in areas 10 and 9; a technique for trapping and mapping this material would be a challenge.

2.       During the project a statistical approach was adopted to see if the density of finds was an indicator of activity. This method pointed to the various hearth sites where metal was being recycled. The system of recording needs to be analysed in a way that will allow for comparison between the previous areas and the extensive areas searched outside the development area. This will prove invaluable in identifying other hearths and, in conjunction with the XRF, possibly the areas of fighting action.

3.       In designing the layout of the searches and the method of recording and analysis must be consistent with the present searches. So it is vital that the developers follow advice on siting and recording the various searches. This must be written into any WSI that is finally approved.

8 There is no way that the part-time city archaeologist can monitor the work without help. Relevant organisations should be approached to provide assistance and ensure that the public can have a representative on site while work is being undertaken. They will provide a conduit and point of contact for the WSI projects to the supervisory agencies. Condition (d) requires the supervision of the work and a way to ensure that this happens and must  be specified in the WSI before it is agreed.

Action: The matter of the access to the public paths during the work needs to be clarified in the WSI. As I conduct tours of the battlesite, I need to understand what restrictions are planned to the land and when these are going to happen. Any permitted restrictions, or rules for access restrictions must be notified and agreed. The process needs to be explained in the WSI. As it stands, the developer has the right to bar access to the site for as long as they choose.

9 Under the post-excavation assessment, “interpretation of the results in appropriate context” does not meet the requirement set out in the planning permission for an interpretive archaeological trail, or its earlier incarnation ‘the Fulford Battlefield Walk’.

Action: The post excavation assessment report must be expanded to include a detailed explanation of how the various mandated public interpretations are to be satisfied. There must also be a timetable for these reports and which should be scheduled for each phase of the work. There is no reason to wait until the entire site has been built over for the work and interpretive material from earlier phases to be published. There can be provision to extend the agree times if the developers can justify the need for an extension.

11 What is the justification for the confidentiality of work arising from the WSI? The presumption must be in favour of publication and there should be no situation where the developer can withhold their permission, notwithstanding the arbitration proposed (but not detailed as the WSI claims). The proposed rules would allow the developer to withhold details of evidence about the battlesite.

Action: Some clear conditions under which information about archaeology can be withheld need to be set out but the right to decide what information is released and when must be the exclusive privilege of a public official. The Fulford Parish Council could be approach to provide a liaison officer for this purpose.

11.3 and 13.1It is a condition (f) that there will be archaeological involvement by the community. Therefore these paragraphs need to be amended to place the obligation on the developers to facilitate this. Given the very poor past performance of Persimmon in granting public access to their work, a minimum schedule should be set out in the WSI.

It is also unclear what the ‘restrictions on publicity’ mean. Is it restricting the rights of the public and public bodies to talk about the archaeology? This implies that the operation is going to be carried out clandestinely and the developers will have the sole control of what is announced. This is unacceptable. The archaeology belongs to the public and is being undertaken for their benefit and the developers can have only a consultation role and must not be allowed to operate without the supervision mentioned above (para 11 comments).

Action: The European laws of copyright are very clear and there should be no need to attempt to limit or redefine them in the WSI. It is unlawful to estrange a person from the rights they have as the originator of any type of published material so it is doubtful if this could be enforced. However, it might be maliciously employed to justify those being given access to material to sign away their rights.


The phasing of the archaeological work needs to be set out in the WSI or at least to agree the order of work. If, for example, the work undertaken prior to the main construction uncovers more evidence of post-battle metal re-cycling, there must be a clear undertaking that such findings will be fully explored before main construction begins. There can be no question of the technique of rescue archaeology being invoked for archaeology of such importance. Nor can ditches, roads or storage areas be assigned until certain site-wide work has been done and reported.

The phasing and boundaries of the archaeological work cannot be wholly dependent on the developers’ building schedule for the site.

Consequently, to minimise the risk of such interruptions, it would be sensible to adopt a site-wide sequence of preliminary surveys.

1.       The metal detecting survey

2.       A site-wide magnetometry survey once surface metal has been removed

3.       Sampling of the soil to conserve it for future analysis since phosphate and amino acid techniques are maturing and the samples will be available for future research.



[1]CathNeal  Preliminary Report on Campus 3    2012.

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

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