Images of flood on
the day of the battle
panoramas of the battle site
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(Designation) Consultation Report 14 June 2012
Page 5 of 5 (Image from CB 369)
MapNational Grid Reference:
Crown Copyright and database right 2011. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey
Licence number 100019088.
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.
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.
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.