Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2015 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

Locating the battle

Summary of published report

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The Fulford Tapestry

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English Heritage (Designation) Consultation Report 14 June 2012 Page 5 of 5  (Image from CB 369)

MapNational Grid Reference: SE6163748688© Crown Copyright and database right 2011. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100019088.

 

The Fulford Ings were investigated by Manchester University and predated the battle. The detailed shape was surveyed and shows how the falling tide on the day of the battle would allow make the beck fordable to King Harald and his ‘best men’ beside the river before the water drained from the Ings, offering an explanation in the sources to the way the English reacted slowly to the outflanking move by the Norse. It is also worth noting here that King Harald’s ally, Earl Tostig, was the owner of the hall that overlooked this area according to the Domesday records so might have been familiar with the military opportunity the peak tide would present on the day of the battle.

 

The second, and shorter route from the base at Riccall, arrives at the ford which has been geologically identified, supplies the place with its name, Foulforde or Muddy Ford, and has post designation, produced finds that can be related to the battle. Several sources describe this feature across the beck. The shape and tidal nature of the ford also makes sense of the gruesome image of the bodies looking like stepping stones after the battle.

 

Norse literature sources put King Harald of Norway beside the river. One of the two routes from Riccall. I surmise that a good commander would use all available roads, which would place him in the dead ground described. We also located items such as the part-made arrow head here that is of Norse design and suggested as one of the post-battle recycling areas.

 

The ditch itself, with the ford forming the western half, is a formidable military obstacle and its shape is consistent with the literature which makes a number of references to this feature when describing the battle.  The landscape, literature and tidal evidence firmly place and define the battlesite which the metal finds confirm as the battle zone.

 

The ditch we now call Germany Beck, was formed  when the last ice sheet retreated some 12,000 years ago. The lake of trapped melt-water carved a breach in the hard moraine material to reach the river Ouse which ran at least 5m lower at the time.  The process left two banks that are too steep to clamber. These were extremely good flanks with the Ings in the west and the wetlands to the east, making bypassing impossible. I have estimated the distance between the flanks as 545m which would have been covered by a deep shieldwall if the various estimates of the English force at over 5,000 men is accepted.

 

The extension of this ditch lies to the south of the steep east flank bank. There is also an ancient hedge which recognised methods of dating suggest could have been there at the time of the battle. Ironically, the bank and hedge might have provided respite for the outflanked English protecting them from assault thus preventing their annihilation.

 

The flood plain beyond the ditch is the site of most of the recycling hearths. (concentrations of iron confirmed in a geophysical survey that was found among the papers supplied under FOI by English Heritage.) The recent flooding has allowed the ‘islands’ in this wetland to be investigated. Tidal evidence and the tide times in 1066 allow for a feasible interpretation that the English held their ground as the tide rose and then slipped away after dark, leaving much equipment which might account for the number of post-battle recycling sites in this area we have termed the Retreat Field.

 
 

 

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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