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Part 2 - Initial proposal for works required to discharge the condition 12

PROJECT 1 The site bounded by the A19, Fordlands Road and the north bank of Germany Beck

The work provided by the developers in this area must be redone. In August 2013 a trail trench was opened on the south bank of the beck which revealed the stone-lined ford. A remarkable number of iron objects and other, possibly organic, fragments were recovered from the stone surface of the ford. A report on the work is being prepared and plans to extend this work are also in hand.

However the developer’s archaeological work failed to report the stone surface or the clay base on which the stones sit although ‘the land was much firmer than expected’[1] they failed to expose these layers. The developer’s conclusion that there ‘would appear to be no need for further archaeological work’ is based on their failure to do acceptable archaeology. The stone layers is clearly visible as extending onto the northern side of the beck (see image below). It is simply not credible that archaeology just a few metres away should be so different. This must be clarified as a matter of urgency since this land is designed to provide the proposed access road and is likely to be one of the first areas disturbed. But the ford is at the very heart of where the evidence suggests that the battle took place. This project must have absolute priority.

It may be that the planners, or the department of central government that approved the stopping up of the road here, will feel that the results from the new investigation justify reopening the planning matters on the basis that the information provided by the developer was wrong or to call the application in since there is new information. (See my comments on 4.5.18 which suggest that the developers knew in 2003 that the information being provided was incomplete.)

Images from the beck-edge, trail-trench August 2013. Clockwise from top left: 1 View to the north bank where the access road is planned, showing that the stone layer extends from the south to the north bank.But the stone surface of the ford was not reported in the developer’s archaeology. 2 A sample of bone-like material found on the surface stones. Test are ongoing to see if it has organic or inorganic origin. 3 Shows the 15x30cm section of stones that were removed at base of trench (.9m below surface) from where the iron (left) was removed. 4 Sample of iron objects recovered from on, and between, the stones. The density of finds was many orders of magnitude higher than the background and even 100 times greater than the hearth areas. Failure to report such material on the north bank, a few meters away, is simply not credible. No work can be allowed on the access until this anomaly in the data provided to the planning system is exploredand explained.

Project 2 - Full investigation, including excavation, of the identified and indicated metal-recycling areas.

The probable post-battle recycling hearths are currently unique in the archaeological record where hearth bottoms, ceramic hearth fragments, tools, billets and slag were found. If they are confirmed they would give a valuable insight into how battle sites were cleared. So the WSI should ensure that the collection of dating evidence, such as charcoal, is given priority.

Because access was denied to undertake the work from 2004 onwards as I note below, and the developers were well aware that there was geophysical evidence to back up the identification of this site, the findings from these hearth investigations must precede any building work. The Secretary of State must be informed of any important environmental information that emerges especially if it shows the reporting and advice that was provided to the planners was knowingly incomplete.

There are two wide zones that have been identified where metal was being recycled. Others will probably be found when a full metal-detecting survey is undertaken if the geophysics plot is to be believed. I will be very happy to work with the developers to investigate the areas. The search area should include the hedges. There was evidence of items that had been gathered and possibly being prepared for metal working along the hedge-line.

The necessary sequence is:

·         Metal detecting as each layer is stripped to the depth of the detectable range of the metal detectors.

·         Each layer need to be inspected for any datable items such as artefacts, charcoal or fired clay.

·         The surface scatter of hearth finds was small (approx. 20m sq) therefore the search areas where this method will be required will be quite restricted.

However, seven possible hearth sites have been identified and the geophysics below suggests that there are more awaiting discovery.

On 28 May 2013, I was given access to the archive boxes for the Germany Beck development at EH, Swindon.heritage HQ in Swindon.

Among the documents was a geophysical scan. The date on the document is February 2003 and it was found among documents that predated 2005. When these data are plotted onto the geophysics there is a perfect match. I had also notified English Heritage in February 2005 that metal recycling evidence had been identified from this area of the battlesite. (Email R Burns to K Emerick 5 Feb 2005).

The geophysics, which has a manuscript overlay of the number of ferrous finds, suggests that there are a number of other possible hearth sites.

These comments should be read in association with those in 7.13, page 12&13.


Special consideration should be given to any horseshoes and other accoutrements since several academics have suggested they might have a relevance to interpreting and dating the site. When the full data on horseshoes is available from the battle area and surrounding fields, it is hoped is to carry out analysis by shape, quantity, mass and find-density over the whole area.

Project 3 - Ferrous and other traces in the soil

One possible speculation during the project was that iron salts, which were the product of rust, might show up in the record. This technique has been employed at Riveaulx Abbey to measure the levels of iron extraction. During the XRF work, several random soil samples that were to hand were tested. Some samples showed an abnormal level of iron. These soil samples, it was later confirmed, came from the Ings below a known buried dump of old machinery south east of the old Terry’s chocolate factory. This experiment suggests that a systematic testing for iron in the soil, using XRF or other techniques, would be worth a trial and should be used in conjunction with any soil surveys.

The purpose of the trial trench dug in August 2013 was to take this research forward where visible traces of iron were seen so it is possible that dissolved iron oxide was also reduced in the process that produces an iron pan – the trial trench had laminations which are challenging to interpret.  Soil sampling and measuring dissolved iron will be an important part of Project 1.

Furthermore, if this does provide a viable method, then it opens the exciting possibility that a number of enhanced areas of iron in the soil can be dated using either some carbon material found in the sample, or using the land build-up model to estimate the date.  Testing of the soil samples for ferrous traces should be a part of the soil survey methodology.

A plan to collect and store samples of the soil over the site prior to disturbance will allow new techniques to be tested in the future. There have been successful results in Scandinavia from phosphate testing (using cheap agricultural testing methods) and amino acids chelates might also have formed and survived in the soil but it would be premature to test this yet. However, these samples will enable new techniques to be applied in the future.

Project 4 - Geophysical studies

Once the area has been searched for metal, two geophysical investigations (magnetic and resistivity) should cover the whole area. The removal of the surface metal, which is discussed next, should improve the image produced by these geophysical techniques.

The aim of this work is to identify any areas where post-battle activity took place. This might help to identify any areas that have been disturbed for the disposal of bodies even if no mortal remains survive. The work might also find possible charcoal pits.

It might also identify the metal working areas where iron concentration lies beyond the range of surface metal detecting because geophysics might give a meaningful signature for hammerscale and slag.It is very important that all this is done before the land is disturbed.

Project 5- ‘Charcoal pit’

At least one of the areas beside Germany Beck where a charcoal stain was identified needs to be excavated. A test trench should show if the whole area of the pit needs to be explored. If one pit can be dated to the time of the battle, using carbon dating, then the other areas need to be subject to some inspection.

The WSI should be alert to other possible charcoal making areas since the evidence is that these are found close to the metal recycling areas. The Norse method of making charcoal at the time involved digging a pit and burying the wood. This might account for the survival of traces of charcoal that have been found.


[1] MAP 1996,352 page 10 for both quotes.

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

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