Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2015 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

Summary from trial trench

Summary of published report

Visiting the site

Timetable July 2014
Finding us
Media release
Summary from trial trench
2014 dig
2014 findings
Discussion paper


Images of flood on the day of the battle

12 panoramas of the battle site

YouTube videos

The Fulford Tapestry

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Finding Fulford cover

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Appendix F Summary finding from the trial trench


Last August a test trench was opened following the extraction of some auger samples. These samples were being taken to test a dating hypothesis. Measurable changes in the level of iron in the soil column were found during earlier work which could be traced to a datable source of dumped iron.[1] With a model for the rate at which the land surface has risen, a date could be estimated for any ‘spike’ in iron concentration within the soil profile. That was the plan.

However, some of the core samples taken beside Germany Beck showed visible iron. So it was decided to open a trench with the support and permission of the land owner, the Parish Council.


An exceptional number of iron items were found on and within the surface of the stone-lined ford that was one metre below the present surface. It is the opinion of experts that some iron might be parts of edged weapons. Initial conservation of some of the finds is consistent with the interpretation of the ford as the place of the 1066 battle of Fulford.

The Trench

Based on the samples taken with an auger, an extensive layer of stone was identified about a metre below the surface. The auger also revealed three distinct soil layers which were physically stable and consistent between each auger sample. A 1m square pit was dug.

Stone base of ford

Several stones had a planar-convex shape, with the flat surface on the underlying clay. The groves on the base of the stone very strongly suggest both the glacial origin of the stones and that they are in their natural location.

Assessment of iron Finds

The density of finds was measured during the Battlefield Research Project[2] (2000-2005) in the surrounding area. The find density in this trial trench was over 100 times greater than the hearth areas identified which were themselves seen at ‘hot spots’ relative to the background find density. The stone surface of the ford is extensive but has not yet been fully mapped. But other cores suggest that the stone surface could be a 70m square, oriented NNE. This might have provided a suitable surface for heavily laden warriors to do battle as has been proposed in Finding Fulford after a study of the landscape and the literature.

With the exception of the anvil, the other fragments cannot be identified but appear to be broken or fractured. The amount of metal discovered is not easy to explain by casual loss or why several items were embedded between the stones. As non-ferrous items were more common parts of dress, if casual loss was the source of the metal one would expect to find some examples, but none were found in the small section sampled.

The items are consistent with an interpretation of the ford as a battle site where men clad in iron, attacked their opponents with iron weapons and where metal from the site was subsequently recycled.

Image 2: Iron finds from the trial trench with showing the ‘concretion’ that attached it to the stones at the base of the ford and the xrays (courtesy of Dept of Archaeology, University of York)


[1]Finding Fulford, page 226, Charles Jones 2010

[2] Finding Fulford Ch 4 appendix 1 p 183-185


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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