Images of flood on the day of the battle
12 panoramas of the battle site
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The relevance of horseshoes to a search for the battle at Fulford is arguable. We have no evidence that the Norse invaders or the Northumbrians used horses during the battle at Fulford. But we have contemporary sources describing the use of horses to carry messages and to launch cavalry attacks 5 days later. The gathering of a number of horses might have been one motive for the landing at Scarborough and the raiding through Holderness that followed the arrival of the Norse.
But the possibility that horses played some part in the battle cannot be ruled out. We know that horses were used after the battle[i] and know that King Harold and Earl Tostig had both practiced the use of cavalry[ii].
However, the horseshoe data provides a reasonable correlation to early land use. The areas that yielded no horseshoes were Ings-land or had been in-filled in recent years.
The type of shoe is also revealing. The light shoes employed by the cavalry were found behind the cavalry barracks, while the extensive, 40 acre field yielded a few shoes fitted for heavy horses. The ancient fields around Water Fulford provided shoes of many shapes and sizes including one ‘orthopaedic’ shoe. But the sample is too small and the problem of accurately dating horseshoes prevents any conclusions being drawn about the use of horses during the battle.
Horses could give the leaders mobility so that they could exercise command and control before battle, but we have no evidence that they were employed during the battle at Fulford.[iii] A spur goad and a horseshoe nail from this era were found in area 10, near the hearth finds, so one cannot exclude the possibility that these items were being made, rather than used. The location of designs common for the time is interesting but cannot be related to the battle.
When the full data is available from the rest of the area of interest, the hope is to carry out analysis by quantity, mass and find-density over the whole area. There is more information to be extracted from the horseshoes, but their relevance for the moment is for land use as there is nothing that allows any suggestion that mounted warfare played a part in the battle at Fulford.
[i] Norse sources talk of messengers taking the fastest horses to take the news back to Riccall that King Harold’s army had been sighted, closing in on Stamford Bridge.
[ii] Harold is depicted using horses on the Bayeux Tapestry and Tostig employed them to harry the Welsh in 1064 according to the ASC.
[iii] By contrast, at Stamford Bridge it was mounted warriors that initially took the fight to the isolated Norse force and mention is made in both Norse and English sources of all of the leaders being on horseback.
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 Field, flood-plane housing estate. Visiting Fulford Map York
And another website for the Fulford Tapestry that tells the story of the September 1066: This tells the story embroidered into the panels.
There is a blog covering these sites where you can leave questions and make comments.
The author of the content is Chas Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org