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Assessment of the documents disclosed by the Designation Review Committee (DRC)

The three documents recently disclosed covering the advice provided before and during the DRC meeting reveal failures to address both what is known about the battlefield research and also how the available information should properly be assessed under the designation guidance.

Having now read some of the documents that were previously missing, my detailed refutations of each point in the designation decision stand.[1] So I will not rehearse those details here.

As well as getting the facts wrong, the process promoted by the DRC briefingis also wrong. I expected that I would find reasons to justify the conclusionthat “'while Germany Beck remains themost likely location for the Battle of Fulford, the documentary and archaeologicalevidence is insufficiently conclusive to make this a secure identification.” I also expected to find information and guidance addressing the issues I had raised. And I expected that the many favourable remarks about Fulford seen in the meeting notes would be reflected in the minutes and the decision rejecting my request for a review.

I discover three procedural errors.

1.       Serious defects in the guidance that was given.(part 1)

2.       The briefing document ignores most of the evidence raised in the appeal,as illustrated in part 2.

3.       In part 3, Idocument how the two sets of meeting notes do not correspond in a very significant way with the minutesand the sections of the Review Response, suggesting these documents were not the expression of the DRC itself.

By way of contrast I append three short portions of emails to the DRC officers and also an image of one of the digital version of the draft of Finding Fulfordthat I distributed widely among conflict archaeology specialists. On the CD I write ‘Because I am going into some new territory for the investigation of battlefields, I am anxious to get as much informed criticism as possible before I publish and would be happy to include alternative explanations for the material uncovered alongside my own’.I attach these notes because of the repeated criticisms in these documents that my hypothesis has not been tested.Dr Flatman’sbriefing, and the comments attributed to Prof Morris, do not deal with the evidence provided but promoteuntested opinions.

Part 1  The wrong test

Misguided advice about the level of evidence or ‘proof’ needed

The recently disclosed briefing papers and the manuscript notes from the DRC meeting explain why the members of the panel apply the wrong test. A ‘fair degree of probability’  is noted  (#5.1) as the correct test but the  independent members of the panel are noted as saying the site is ‘not absolutely proven’, ‘not sufficiently convincing’ and ‘we are not saying he is wrong – we are saying he can’t prove he is right’.The words ‘not yet clinched’ also form part of the ‘unanimous decision’.

The reason that the panel applied the wrong test can be seen in Dr Joseph Flatman’s briefing paper which talks, for example, the statistical analysis not offering ‘conclusive new evidence’.  The designation process has never required proof although, following the July 2013 excavation I can now provide proof that Germany Beck is the 1066 battlesite.

A similar binary approach is applied to new landscape evidence I provided. In my appeal against the designation decision I asked for several strands of evidence to be considered. There was new data about the shape of the Ings at the time of the battle, a reference to Germany Beck as the Upper Ouse, plus I asked the review to take note of how well the tidal data corresponded to the literature and the ‘reconstructed’ landscape of 1066.[2]Rather than noting, as I had done, that the new evidence supported what is self-evidently an interpretation,Dr Flatmanrejects it saying ‘EH are not convinced’,still citing ambiguities in the sources rather than assessing the newtestable evidence provided as he is supposed to do.

Failure and confusion with distinguishing betweennewfrom novelevidence

Among the new evidence I submitted, only the statistical analysis and the hearth debris are discussed while the new tidal, literary and landscape data that supported the identification of Germany Beck, are ignored in the Flatmanbriefing.

The documentconfuses the notion of new and novel. It recognises that the statistical approach is ‘an interesting new development’ with the potential to produce ‘significant new evidence’ and although the data is ‘intriguing’ and with the potential to be a useful tool, if proved elsewhere, the briefing rejects it on the grounds that it is novel so cannot be compared. The proper test is to address the details and the unique historical context of the battle of Fulford then see if it supports the fair degree of probability test for locating Fulford.

We again encounter the words ‘intriguing’ and ‘unproven’ in dismissing the interpretation of the metal recycling hypothesis. Instead Dr Flatman promotes some speculation about charcoal which could be resolved by addressing the evidence I presented.[3]This would show that his objection had all been subject to review and the possible options had been investigated in the six years prior to publication.[4]The briefing rejects the hypothesis on the basis that it is novel and ‘remains unproven’ which is the wrong test.

Playing with words

Citing Annex B point 8,Dr Flatman takes a quote of mine out of its context to try to portray my hypothesis as no more than a speculation. I note that no suggestions have been provided to challenge the post-battle, metal recycling hypothesis and there is no mention of my efforts to seek out alternative explanations. Put back into context[5], my quote explains the many different avenues that were investigated, and reported, to explain what was recognised as a new archaeological finding.[6]

The hypothesis should be judged to have passed the fair degree of probability test had the evidence available to Dr Flatman been addressed. Having survived unchallengedwhenever it was presented at conferences of archaeologists, I now have datable evidence linking the recycling debris to the time of the battle. I was never required to prove the hypothesis as it passed the credibility testset by the designation rules, I can now provide such proof.

Part 2The wrong information

Other errors where Dr Flatman misinformed the DRC

It is a matter of record that every serious author, starting from the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments placed the battle near Germany Beck in 1953 and evaluating routes for York’s outer ring road in 1973, the battle was placed ‘along Germany Beck’. So Dr Flatman is wrong is advising the panel that I am the only person to relate the literature to Germany Beck since all parties to this dispute have noted the good correspondence. I am also on record as being unwilling to accept this consensus when designing the methodology. So Iensured the project covered a wide area and investigated all published alternative sites as reported in Finding Fulford.

In dismissing the metal recycling hypothesis, theneed for charcoal is discussed but ignores the identification of nearby deposits or the extensive discussion about charcoal (see footnote 2 page 2 above). Dr Flatman calls for details of the extent of woodland. Answers can be foundin the section ofFinding Fulford entitled‘What did the vegetation look like?’ based on a study of the pollen and certain fauna along Germany Beck.

The ‘missing briefing’ from Dr Bridgland to the DRC

The briefing provided by Dr Nick Bridgland, the second briefing offer present at the DRC meeting, has not been disclosed so I assume he did not provide one. But his Witness Statementin this case reveals the source of the ‘new’ literary evidence that led EH to change their mind about designating the battlesite.  I have provided EH with a detailed critique of his witness statement showing that every point he cites as the basis for changing his mind is wrong and I have also pointed out that the source of his misinformation was those who have an interest in opposing designation.

In the absence of aBridgland briefing, I make the assumption that he is the main source of the comments that are noted about viable alternative sites and ambiguities in the literature within the manuscript meeting notes.[7] These opinions, which I have contradicted with evidence, should not have been provided to the DRC members without at least noting the contra evidence that had been provided.

Part 3

The procedural gap between the manuscript notes, the minutes and the ultimate decision

In September 2013, Iprovided EH with a detailed critique of the errors of fact and misinformation within the DRC minutes having obtained the latter under FOI/EIR rules. (Attached) It is alarming to see even more misinformation within the manuscript notes: I will use another EIR to explorethe drafting of the DRC’s minutes and decision in what the notes refer to as the ‘crucial next step’ which took nearly 12 weeks. I note, for example, that the designation decision does not reflect the many favourable views expressed about the Germany Beck site by DRC members, listed below.

Below I have also listed the places where the DRC members say they need more information. This could have been avoided the required information was available.  I offered to assist both the Battlefields Panel and the DRC as a witness,and invited them toinspect the site and the physical evidence. I can also find nothing in the briefing provided to note that from 2004 I was prevented from working on the site to explain why confirmatory work had not been undertaken. Had the DRC been told that research had been prevented, they might have formed a different view about the need to review the available evidence. In the context of my willingness to expose the evidence to scrutiny and clarify the many points where they claim not to know enough to designate, this reveals a weakness in their process.

Comparing the two sets of notes with the minutes, in 6 of the 15 paragraphs of the minutes, 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. I will seek to discover if the minutes were approved by the DRC.

The minutes (and the decision not to review) also fail to report the way Maldon and Hastings were designated despite very limited evidence and some ambiguities in the literature and landscape.

 

With reference to claim 1 in my appeal to the DRC, these new documents say that“in accepting ‘Germany Beck remains the most likely candidate for the battle of Fulford’, the original designation assessment disagrees significantly with the conclusions of the 2006 public inquiry”.

However, such a significant disagreement with the 2006 decisions is not ‘sufficient grounds to grant a request for a review’. But the contradiction of the opinion which is cited at the start of the designation decision is not noted in either the minutes or the decision of the DRC. The mantra repeated in the Designation Decisions that ‘EH has formed its own objective view at all times’ is open to challenge since the Advice Report, that was the basis of my appeal, builds on the views of the planning inspector with which EH apparently ‘disagrees significantly’.

Designation Decision fails to reflect:

1 The pro recognition comments

·         Strong likelihood of site

·         strong but not incontrovertible

·         Makes location inherently fit - as agreed by other (members)

·         We are not saying he’s wrong - we are saying he can’t prove he’s right.

·         has ID’d potential to suggest possible site

·         not incorrect just insufficient

·         probability it’s here  - He’s not wrong.

·         the site concerned has strong claim

·         Pay tribute to Chas J               -interesting material-case not yet clinched

·         In accepting the ‘Germany beck remains the most likely candidate for the site of the battle of Fulford’, the original designation assessment  disagrees significantly with the conclusion of the 2006 public inquiry.

2 The many calls for extra work

·         Recommend further investigation - how?

·         mitigation strategy desirable.

·         Ideally we’d wait for more investigation

·         Notes BFP [Battlefield Panel] support for more effective mitigation strategies

·         Ask for more xxx xxxxxx before dismissing …

·         Real need for more methodological exploration

·         Protect as an archaeological ‘site under AMAAAA’ 79 an Archaeological Area?

·         this reinforces the issue of further mitigation that we would expect to see during the planning process

Need for further disclosure

I will be submitting requests for disclosure of five points raised in these new documents.

1.       In paragraph 7 of Dr Faltman’s briefing for the DRC members, it notes appendix 2  ‘details of rejectionsof Mr Jones’ review’. This makes it clear that the officers had pre-judged the matter.

2.       To follow up references to the need for careful drafting of the response I would like to have copies of the various drafts and emails relating to the drafting processcovering  11 weeks.

3.       I need to see details of the process for approving the minutes by the members of the DRC.

4.       I also need to see any briefing provided by Dr Bridgland for the DRC.

5.       I would also like to know who were the authors of the manuscript notes.

In conclusion

We should be able to rely on the informed assessments of EH. But when the evidential and procedural basis of their judgements is wrong, then I would ask the court to examine the details of their decision process. An arbitrary judgement by EH should be replaced with reasoned consideration. Since it has been shown in several documents[8] that the evidence employed by EH was wrong, the decisions must themselves be wrong.

Chas Jones     9 January 2015

 

The following emails are provided for reference

A: From email to Roger Bowdler 2 May 2013 (CB 522)

“It is a pity that I won't be able to be required to answer any questions but Ihave launched a couple of short YouTube films, the first giving a tour and thesecond providing a snapshot of the evidence that led us to find Fulford aimed ata general audience.

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdouFSDxX8o

“http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kg61wPU8Wns

…..

“Please give my compliments to your new review body. I hope you feel equipped to set out my case for the designation of the battlesite. I will not rehearse theutter scandal of the way false information was introduced in 2005 and then foundits way into your designation report even though the false evidence had beendisowned by others within EH - it is shaming that· nobody is prepared to discuss this.”

Anticipated that the methodology would come under scrutiny I asked Dr Bowdler to communicate this to the DRC:

“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 &MiddlethorpeIngs) 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 inconservation) 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.”

B: Writing to Dr Flatman on 22 July 2013 [CB 538] following the receipt of his DRC report, I concluded

“I repeat my offer to takethose who are making these important assessments round the site and to show themthe archaeology. It is not acceptable to claim that so much is my subjectiveinterpretation without exposing yourselves to the remarkable and holisticevidence for the battle. I would also note that my interpretation has beenpublished in a number of places, presented· at many conferences and that thousandsof people have been taken around the site. This in my view is the very best wayto test the integrity of the evidence of the battle site and I ask you to engage with the evidence that exists rather than seeking to justify your organisation's past failures with misinformed commentaries.

 

C: Concluding paragraphs of a letter to Prof Morris, who is the most quoted member of the DRC and suggested lead author of the meeting minutes, following the disclosure of the DRC minutes and his many critical comments about my work. (Sent via Chief Exec of YAT on 22 August 2013 and quickly responded to by Prof Morris leading to a site visit in October)

“Just a few weeks ago I recovered more pieces of iron from among the stones that line the ‘foule’ ford. I hope, when we are given access, to be able to find some dating evidence and you will recognise how disappointed I am that English Heritage has not already mandated such work even though I have invited them to do so. Everybody seems rather comfortable with a theory rather than taking this unique opportunity to test it against some evidence.

“Could I again extend the invitation that I have made to EH on a number of occasions to come and look at the evidence and examine the site. As I have noted, I do not recognise much of the criticism to which my work has been subjected and, speaking as somebody who has trained as a scientist, I believe that the proper approach is to test theories against the evidence. I was constantly challenged to do this by the many notable mentors who I list in my report and so far the confidence in the location of the battlesite has been enhanced each time. It must be intellectually wrong to fail to address the evidence that has been produced, and even worse to deny the existence of such evidence when it challenges a belief or theory.

“We cannot debate these matters of archaeology in the High Court as that will only concern itself with failures to follow the law. So I hope that we can engage in this debate about archaeology now since it is unacceptable that what is possibly a unique set of evidence should be lost without being properly investigated. “

 

D:This digital version of the draft text of Finding Fulford was distributed early in 2010. This CD followed comments during 2009 and early 2010 from the many mentors on the separate sections (chapters) which covered the work that they had guided. I found a small batch among some conference papers recently. I distributed copies each time I delivered a paper about the Fulford evidence. I received a number of useful comments leading to further investigations and resulting in the final publication being delayed until 2011.

My comment on the disk, display an approach to addressing evidence which is absent from the process revealed in the disclosed papers.


 

[1] I attach two documents prepared and sent to EH in October 2013 which begin ‘Perhaps the missing document provides some reasoned arguments, backed by evidence, upon which the repetitious dismissal of all of my complaints can be justified.But in the absence of any argument to justify the opinions being set forward in this appendix 2, I have pointed to the evidence which contradicts the EH view.’

[2] I provided these as a part of my consultation response in July 2012. But they were not discussed in the published decision while the imagined ambiguities in the literature and misleading views about alternative sites were promoted to justify not designating the battlesite.

[3] The index of Finding Fulford provides more page references to charcoal than any other material. It was a key part of the original investigation.

[4] Finding Fulford p166-170 explores ‘Other possible sources of the iron objects’ which emerged during the years of peer review. It continues with ‘Some interpretative problems’ which puts the quote from the briefing paper in context, concluding ‘However, the metalworking hypothesis provides some convincing support for the location of the battle that was developed from a study of the landscape and literature.’

[5] The hypothesis notes that all the hearth debris as consistent with medieval ironworking, the slag suggested forge-welding temperatures, the hearth bottoms were suggestive of short-term use, the billets were typical of tradable items of the 11th century, several billets had what might be called a military shape and no obviously civilian items were found, there was an exceptional number of tools were found. There were historical and landscape reasons to support the survival of this unique collection. These hearth are confined to the area where we interpret the battle as being fought since they are not found in the surrounding area. Finally, the many hearths identified correspond precisely with the landscape interpretation of the battle since metal appears to have been recycled over the length of Germany Beck.

[6] See appended document D on page 8

[7] Dr Flatman makes a passing reference to ambiguities in the literature but not to alternative site. Yet the DRC meeting notes make references to alternative sites so I am suggesting Bridgland as a source of this misinformation. 

[8] The appeal documents on Jan 2013 list the errors and omissions from the Designation Decision. The ‘deception plan’ document of Feb 2013 showed that EH relied on Persimmon’s evidence that Germany Beck had not existed in 1066 and cited this to withdraw their objection to the planning application. The list of alternative sites, provided by Persimmon in their objection during the designation consultation was shown to be nonsense but these alternatives were cited by various EH officers. The witness statement from Nick Bridgland, the designation officer responsible, cited the misinformed view of John Oxley of CYC about ambiguity in translations. A paper with the two key translations was prepared to show how the ambiguity cited by opponents does not exist. 

 

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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