Fulford battlefied under threat

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These are contemporary notes of the EH Designation Review Committee (DRC) finally disclosed in December 2014. They are published here as the names and minutes are already in the public domain.

Transcription key:

  •             [ ] indicates expanded information

  •             ( ) text suggested where written text is unclear

  •             Xxx text is unreadable

  •             All emphasis such as underlining are from the original notes

  •             Layout tries to respect the original format

  •  

DRC 2/05:

Jane G [Jane Grenville]:

Strong likelihood of site - case not absolutely proven.

Notes BFP [Battlefield Panel] support for more effective mitigation strategies initially + then (change) of opinion.

Case not proven- proving a battlefield area site via historical descriptions - In reply xxx this + esp[ecially] level of change of area since that time.

Matter of degrees - not sufficiently convincing.

But (discuss) with developers mitigation strategies?

Elizabeth Williamson:

Case is made for (protection) of potential – but not how EH works - we need case at time to designate so can’t do.

Richard Morris:

Difficulties- … EH broadly correct – (Four) reasons underpinning this

1.      Landscape reconstruction in Fulford a post battle settlement? May not be! + open field landscapes of such villages too. Are some xxx of the 10th c + reconstructing open fields is a laststep  for battlefield reconstruction- esp[ecially] will give (importance) on the (preservation) of horses + horseshoes

2.      Survey xxx – MD-xxx hard xxx for 10 years on this - Plans + xxx so (variable) –suggest work in 5-6 areas, of which 2 using GPS. Other work not done.  (Marking) off of overburden + detecting xxx online – ref. in book - not correct.

Any use of transects? To xxx location. QED +1A of xxx inconsistencies - needs more specificity.

3.      Boreholes-why no plan?  Again not detailed survey/methodology.

4        What would you expect to find of a 1066 battle? Towton-arrowheads clump - from a mass grave brought up by agriculture .

(QED) v/s taphonomy of site - things may be deeply buried +where iron might survive so do soil science esp[ecially] pH – mapped. no agricultural history of area/geology.

 

Further work under more organised conditions very comparable survey methods from other sites.

Some big bits of metal are modern- why?

 

5. Written record - might be right on those but doesn’t make it true - can’t export views between sites. A real (interpretational) weak link.

6 Site location issues – (Comment of road as crucial impact on site). Makes location inherently fit - as agreed by other (historians) + Battlefields trust. BUT [circled] Not enough physical evidence.

We are not saying he’s wrong - we are saying he can’t prove he’s right.Are other possible sites nearby that could fit! Ask for more (evidence of these) before dismissing…

Ford and place-name evidence?  Can you cross Ouse here at (Fulford)? Not possible. Fulford an annex to St Olave’s in city - a neighbourhood not a village - it’s a xxx not a specific place = opens up landscape history questions.

 *Can’t designate in order to explore potential or because of planning permission only designate on strength of evidence.

Text Box: Recommend further investigation - how?

 

  [in a square box]

Maldon is on register + arguments are more consistent – (not much more!) So this sets up inconsistencies…

Even Hastings isn’t beyond doubt … where you could (make) site xxx on to the (road) to make sense.

*How to deal with accusation of inconsistency on Maldon in order to avoid challenge?

                    v. specific geographical (reasons) xxx Fulford [This sentence is crossed out]

Fulford - problems with patchy nature of fieldwork xxx (specifications) - Whereas Maldon has detailed landscape reconstruction + fits far better + with less ambiguity at Fulford.

* Alter some language, in our current comments to [text contains down pointing arrow suggesting ‘diminish/lower’] value of Germany Beck site (alone) there are other locations that are possible?!

                                                       Richard Morris to do more work to cross-check on this xxx [Chas Jones] does and these in book…  Don’t create a new hostage to (fortune) for CJ to tilt at.

Clarify not opposing argument - just needs to check it + we are arguing on methodology.

Germany Beck a strong candidate-needs further investigation + [circled] need to check other sites + [circled] check methodology.

Text Box: Being (worked) backwards - interpretation of sources used to give xxx of site environment - makes Germany Beck the fait accompli- xxx it or not 
 

 

 

 

Real need for more methodological exploration incl. site maps -> e.g. bore holes + soil science.

We are criticising his methodology

 –is it our duty to seek out additional info?

    e.g Pre Towton - no battlefield that had iron survived of its own accord.

TAPHONOMIC ISSUES

Protect as an archaeological ‘site under AMAAAA’ 79 an Archaelogical Area? Hearths and furnaces?

Unanimous decision - committee resolution

- iron xxx  xxx  has ID’d (interesting) potential to suggest possible site. But case not yet clinched + other possible sites in area do still exist. 

Not everything is in the book! Even though he says so.

+ From judicial perspective they can ask for more info - JR stayed until report finished.

Drafting is crucial next step.

Run past Glen Foard offer info he’d like to see.

Oval: “not incorrect just insufficient”
 
 

 

Xxx (Name of person) - write up -> draft review - comments

Richard Morris in Germany until mid May – not a problem- comes when it comes

The resolution is that the site not be designated at present time as that of B of F [Battle of Fulford]. This decision is based upon a recognition that xxx the site concerned now has strong claim and is almost certainly in the right district, the evidence is insufficient.

   While not meeting the tests for designation, this reinforces the issue of further investigation that we would expect to see during the planning process

(an earlier draft of this resolution is struck through and says that we are yet to decide if there are other sites in the same district that deserve further investigation? Xxx the site at GB [Germany Beck] is certainly one that deserves further investigation.)

 

 

Transcriber note

However, there is very little correspondence between these notes and the minutes with respect to Prof Morris’ critical comments as set down in the DRC minutes. This is probably due to the ‘crucial drafting’ referred to in the notes  which Prof Morris and Glenn Foard (not a member of the committee) would undertake.

 

DRC-Fulford 2 v 13

 

Ronald H

Richard M

Liz W

Jane (phone)

JF, NB, Chris B [legal advisor]

Antonia

 

JG:   “strong likelihood but case not absolutely proven.”

        -Panel supportive? Still not conclusive tho[ugh]

RH-Minutes of last mtg reverse this

JG  - case not proven

       - Lit[erary] ref’s long after [battle symbol]

      - Area has altered too.

       - “a matter of degree” but not clear enough.

       - mitigation strategy desirable.

LW - wants to preserve potential for exploration

        Ideally we’d wait for more investigation.

RM -EH has said broadly the right thing.

        Concerns re landscape reconstruction- e.g. settlements w/ open fields. Assumes need open landscapes.

       Survey problems: v. small plans produced, random surveys by diff. detectorists-bound to be inconsistent.

       Taphonomy of site-when will iron survive?

      -  No ref. to pH level of soil

      -“carrying more weight than I find them able to bear”

      Modern iron too

     - Literary evidence mixed

     - Philosophically questionable.

     - Roads: key features - allows army to get out

     - ‘patchy nature of fieldwork … well intentioned but …..‘

     - probability it’s here

     - He’s not wrong.

     - Register has evidential standards we must keep these up.

     - Another site exists?

JG  Another possible site, near river with dyke.

RM Germany Beck has been canalised: it is a paleo channel tho[ugh]

      - Place name evidence unclear

       - Fulford: an area not a spot.

 

JG  ‘I’d like it to be there’ - pl. understand site better - planning permission has gone through. Anxious re designating to respond to a planning situation.

     - “strong but not incontrovertible.

RH What about [battle symbol] Maldon?  Worried if that is on Register, but not this one’

RM Hastings-right place, wrong alignment?

NB: Maldon is stronger

RH At least one other location - is EH too pro-Germany Beck.

RM Fighting an academic and planning [battle symbol]

RH  “A strong candidate elsewhere.

        We know so little re size of force - may have been a family feud of a few hundred.

RM  - Danger of us being bureaucratic- limp-wristed

       - PreTowton no securely identified [battle symbol] sites.

        - Countryside is littered with copper alloy.

        - Musket balls-v. soldiers or birds?

RH:  - Unanimous decision.

        - Pay tribute to Chas J   -interesting material

-case not yet clinched.

RM:  Sentiment, romance, tradition: reasons to go on protect earlier sites.

        - Other work has shaken tree for Register and hasn’t helped.

RH   Maldon case is as strong as Fulford’s

RW   Danger of revisiting old lists: Standards do get higher - issue of undermining older (calls)?

RB    15/43 [battle symbol] on Register pre-date Towton. Their security of location is not at issue.

LW:    wanted maps and Foard/Morris book

Judged according to the criterion before us, it doesn’t meet criteria

NB We are talking to Battlefield Trust and revising 17of 43 entries to bring up to date.

RH v[ery] relieved

 

CJ comments

·         It is disappointing that the members were so misinformed. The briefing notes from Dr Flatman partially explain this. But Roger Bowdler declined my offer to attend and answer questions for the committee so I provided a brief which addresses almost all of the critical points about methodology. There is no indication that the committee benefited from this briefing.

·         The two sets of notes can be compared with the minutes. In 6 of the 15 paragraphs the notes tally: Nine paragraphs, reporting the comments by Prof Morris, do not follow the notes. They appear to be part of the ‘crucial’ drafting step that is noted. I also read that Prof Morris is going to ‘cross check’ Finding Fulford which helps explain why it took 11 weeks to prepare the final decision for publication. Was the decision report approved by the DRC? 

·         Have the notes been approved by the DRC?

·         The minutes fail to report several of the concerns raised in the notes:

-          The way Maldon and Hastings were designated despite some ambiguities.

-          There are many calls for additional information without any mention that my access to the site was blocked from 2004.

-          The minutes also fail to report the consensus that Germany Beck was the likely location nor the recommendation 

 

Brief sent to Dr Bowdler when told I could not address the meeting. I anticipated that the methodology would come under scrutiny:

I suggest that the methodology adopted at Fulford is exemplary and permits no sensible challenge to Germany Beck as the location. There was a wide discussion to evolve a methodology to look for the battlesite since none existed. This was published, undergone one formal revision, and the schema followed. With funding in place, the expertise was identified and the work undertaken, discussed, fresh work done in an iterative way that the timetable and extensive use of volunteers permitted. We had the luxury of being able to test our landscape model by testing its predictions - This is how we identified the unchanged section of the ford.

By 2003, the landscape and literature pointed to the beck and removed many other sites from consideration: at this stage we had no expectation of identifying the hearths (the material was in conservation). As there was still much enthusiasm and funding, EH and the city archaeologists were asked to pick two more sites (Walmgate Stray & Middlethorpe Ings) to ensure we had not missed any site - my point being that we were trying to find the battlesite and not prove that Germany Beck was the place.

When the hearth material began to emerge (and this was a slow process with thousands of items to sort through and the items had been in

conservation) that launched a new line of research just as the funding came to an end. Key to the confidence about this material was that it came from very restricted zones, several indicator items (tools, billets, slag, hearth fragments, charcoal) were found together and not a single item was found outside the area of Germany beck (we did this using a double-blind search technique and 2 more cases of hearth debris have subsequently been reported to me in areas we could not search that match predictions). Iron debris was extensively re-cycled after the battle.

I actually held two public 'trials' of the evidence, forming the invited audience into juries. Perhaps the fact that I was offering food and drink after the verdict undermined the impartiality of this process but I have been very keen to expose the material to examination. Drafts of the report went out to the relevant academics 2 years prior to publication (and then substantially rewritten and other analysis required). The material has been presented at 4 international expert audiences. I have published suggested projects and locations for confirmatory work for others to pursue since my access to the land was blocked from 2004.

So I base my passion on the rigorous method and the evidence and continue to welcome any examination.

I am not saying that there is not much more that we can discover - the site is a goldmine for battlefield archaeologists - but I am saying that beyond any reasonable doubt, the site has been located.

 

 

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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