Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2015 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

2014 findings

Summary of published report

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The Fulford Tapestry

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Summary of 2014 findings

1 We identified a causeway crossing the ford.

The edging stones were about 2.4 m apart and the surface appeared flat along its North-South axis and level for at least 1 meter at the centre of the span.  When the direction of was plotted on an OS map, the causeway aligned well with the modern Fulford Road.

2 We found the iron-rich, finds rich layer. It produced some large finds

We were extremely fortunate to be able to have some of the items scanned by Dr Hill in the Portman Hospital. You can see how much more information is revealed by CT scanning compared with an xray (right-hand image). While the xray give you a clue to the shape, the CT scan shows the item and is also able to provide a 3D image. Three of the larger objects were bars where the top surface was being worked. (Images below are all copyright Dr Hill and the Portman Hospital).

 

What are these ‘mushrooms’? Nobody knows; I am investigating the possibility that they might be shield bosses but it might just be the way that bits of iron were forge-welded together. The consensus is that they are definitely items that are being worked on.

These finds are consistent with the post-battle, recycling hypothesis which emerged when several collections of hearth debris were found in 2003/2004. These finds also provide very strong, evidential support to date the extensive recycling debris, found along Germany Beck, to the time of the battle.

3 We dated the layer of the recycling hearth finds

Dating the base of this iron layer was a key aim of 2014. There were not many ceramic finds and of the ones found only a few could be dates. But using 2 independent models; The first assumes that the surface rose at the same rate as the Ings beyond the moraine breach, This dates the top of the finds layer to before 1160. However, referring back to trench 1, the rate at which the surface has risen, caused by sand flowing from the east and alluvium from tidal flooding, flowing from the west, suggests a lower rate of surface build-up and consequently an earlier date of 1050. (There is a margin for error in both estimated dates)

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However, the dating of a horseshoe fragment (above right) within the date-range late 11th to 13th century was an excellent dating find. It was just above the finds-rich layer. So this layer of great interests predates the late 11th century, i.e. the time of the battle of Fulford. We also seem to have one of the horseshoe nails. 

The red layer

The ‘iron layer’ itself is also producing some fascinating results. The initial results show that the iron is concentrated in the base layer. Early experiments show that the iron is 30%+ of the mass of the samples tested while the higher layers very quickly fall to under 10% by weight. This layer is about 20cm deep, but it is the bottom 5 cm where the iron is concentrated.

A method to determine if this can be accounted for by natural processes is still an active area of research. The mineral material for the iron layer is quite different from the layers above. The iron layer is an ultra-fine sand, while the layers above are darker sand. The reason for this horizon in the late 11th century will be the subject of further research. 

SO

We have achieved something remarkable. Most experts say that nothing survives from battle as ancient as Fulford.

We have not only proved them wrong but the iron layer and the recycling hypothesis almost certainly explain why nothing normally survives. (Which in an obtuse way means the experts are ‘right’ if they are talking about most battlefields - but wrong about Fulford)

Diary of the 2014 dig   Discussion report of work August 2014

 

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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