Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2015 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

REPORT ON THE TRIAL TRENCH ADJAC

Summary of published report

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REPORT ON THE TRIAL TRENCH ADJACENT TO GERMANY BECK TO INVESTIGATE THE SURFACE OF THE FORD.

INTRODUCTION

In August 2013 a test trench was opened following the extraction of some auger samples. The auger samples were being taken in order to test a dating hypothesis which was based on previous investigations of the Fulford battle site. Measurable changes in the level of iron were found in the soil which could be traced to a datable source of dumped iron.

With a model for the rate at which the land surface has risen in some areas, a date could be estimated for any ‘spike’ in iron concentration within the soil profile. That was the plan. However, some of the core samples taken beside Germany Beck showed visible iron.

So it was decided to open a trench with the support and permission form the land owner, the Fulford Parish Council. This is an interim report on the work whose main purpose is to instigate a debate about the appropriate methods to use in the extensive dig planned for July 2014.

SUMMARY

An exceptional number of iron items were found on and within the stone surface of the natural, stone-lined ford that was one metre below the present surface. It is the opinion of experts that some are parts of edged weapons. Initial conservation of some of the finds is consistent with the interpretation of the ford as the place of the battle of Fulford. This trail trench has helped to identify the need for, and the relevant methodology necessary for, a more extensive dig that is being planned for July 2014.

THE TRENCH

Based on the samples taken with an auger, an extensive layer of stone was identified about a metre below the surface. The auger also revealed three distinct soil layers which were physically stable and the layers were consistent between each auger sample. From a safety perspective, this was important as the extensive sampling of soil cores during the Fulford battlefield project revealed many areas of liquid sand which was under pressure and actually spouted when the auger was withdrawn! No liquid sand was encountered among any of the cores drilled near the beck.

The trench was at grid SE 61227 48717 averaged using 5 GPS readings from Garmin GPS12 over 3 days. It was 1.2 m square and 1 m deep. There were no visible layers or horizons but three layers could be distinguished by their texture. (Image 1)

 

PREVIOUS WORK UNDERTAKEN BESIDE THE BECK

Attempts were immediately made to match these findings to the nine trenches that Persimmon’s archaeological contractors, MAP, had undertaken on the opposite bank, with one ‘trench’ only 5m north of the trial trench. However, their work is unsatisfactory since it fails to note the stone surface or the natural clay that underlies the stones. The data provided within their reports does not explain if they went down to the 1m depth of our trial trench on the adjacent bank.

I have failed to get an explanation via the City of York archaeologist, John Oxley, for this inconsistency. I have asked that MAP explain the clear discrepancy in the results and asked that they should provide their field notes. I am not aware that any official action on my requests and I have not been offered any explanation for the inconsistency reported here.

The stone layer clearly continues across the beck (images 3 & 4) so it is incomprehensible that the stone surface of the ford should not have been reported. The trial trench was so rich in artefacts that it is surprising that not a single iron item was found during the reported excavations on the north bank. The claimed archaeology on the opposite bank should either be repeated or the notebooks and data from the original work be provided for inspection. At the time of writing there is no valid archaeology on the north bank to which the finding from the trial trench can be related.

 

Related sites Facebook  Twitter (@ helpsavefulford)        Visiting Fulford        Map York

There is a site devoted to saving the battlesite: The site has the story of the process that has allowed the site to be designated an access road to a Green Belt, floodplain housing estate.

And another website for the Fulford Tapestry that tells the story of the September 1066: This tells the story embroidered into the panels.

The author of the content is Chas Jones - fulfordthing@gmail.com  last updated June 2015

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