Fulford battlefied under threat

July 2014 dig

The Fulford Tapestry

The finds

Summary of published report

Visiting the site

July Fulford Dig
Designation evidence
Planners ignore evidence
Sunrise 20 Sept 1066
The Report on the work at Fulford
The finds
Locating the battle
Maps of battle of Fulford 1066
Tapestry Project
Charcoal making
Walking to Waltham Abbey
Books about Fulford
The evidence
Articles and extracts
Water vole destruction


Images of flood on the day of the battle

12 panoramas of the battle site

YouTube videos

The Fulford Tapestry

All History Guide: Your guide to history on the Internet..

Finding Fulford cover

Kindle version

" .. this unusual, and yes, excellent history book.." 

"More books like this one introducing historical study in a sympathetic was are needed.."

Now in paperback

... and into its 3rd reprint!


The detecting plan (see methodology for more details)

We didn't know where the battle took place when we began so we covered a wide area - Perhaps the number of fragments would be significant. So for statistical purposes, the outlying areas would provide useful comparison so they were surveyed. 

The overall pattern might also prove significant and we are working to develop a model in case the distribution indicates hotspots of fragmentary metal has applications beyond Fulford.

The density of unidentifiable ferrous material in the core area is several orders of magnitude higher. However, the significance of this difference in find density cannot be fully appreciated. We need to compare our figures with other sites. 

The Plan

Work began in 2001. Over 5000 metal items were recovered during the regular field working until 2004. This has provided much evidence of how the land has been used over the years.

Half of the material was been examined after 3 years and the rest 1 year later. The most significant discovery was not any particular artefact but produced compelling evidence of some short-term metal working.

This can be interpreted as an indication that there was a lot of short-term glut of metal in the area. It was hoped that this can be further investigated but the developers have repeatedly refused access.

This is the area we hope to survey. The read areas have been done. The green areas have yet to be visited. Access to most of these have been blocked by the developers. The areas are described below.

The work was undertaken by the York Metal Detectorists Club. This experienced and expert group dedicated many weekends to searching for 'scrap iron'. They did a great job.

After four seasons collecting metal from the area of the battle a selection was sent to the conservators for detailed analysis.

Sadly, access to the site was denied by landowners, acting under instruction from the developers. This attempt to prevent the gathering of evidence is, sadly, acceptable to the English planning process.

Over 1000 metal items have been x-rayed and examined. A second batch is waiting to be processed. After that, we hope to examine all the non-ferrous material.

Analysis of the ferrous material

There are 4 stories to be told about the finds.

1.       The first is a holistic or statistical analysis of aggregate collections.

2.       The second is a statistical story.

3.       The next is about some classes of items.

4.       The final story is about a few of the items.

Assemblage analysis

This analysis is focused on the ferrous material since most of the non-ferrous material can be identified and not a single piece can be reliably associated with the battle.

The preliminary findings from this work in-progress were presented to a gathering of archaeologists at the British Museum in April 2005. I smile when I read this extract from my script. “The significance of the seaxes is difficult to assess. These were carried in war and in peace. Perhaps the ford was a popular picnic spot! Perhaps this density of finds is normal for an area like this but we will not know until other areas are similarly surveyed. Perhaps these knife fragments, which at about 4cm ,were small enough to be missed when the site was cleared after the battle.” The process of interpreting these new finds took time and followed some false trails!

Other formal reports have been presented at the Battlefields Conference held at the British Army Museum in 2003 and for the Battlefields Trust in 2009. In addition, during May 2008, academics in six institutions in Scandinavia were visited and invited to comment on the ferrous material. The benefit of these talks on the work being undertaken has been to expose the emerging story to as wide an informed audience as possible.


What have we discovered so far?

  1. We have hundreds of interesting looking fragments but the technology to prove that these are parts of weapons is very expensive and because they are scattered about, would prove little. However, we will keep these under review.
  2. The evidence of metal working calls for much more work. When we are allowed to do so, we hope to see if this represents the reprocessing of metal gathered on the battlefield. The results would have a profound effect on battlefield archaeology.
  3. The density of finds pointed to a number of 'hot spots'. Everyone of the hot spots have yielded a range of smithing hearth debris.



Serial/ area m2

Name –AKA




Ouse bank, River field

Two separate visits. Just south of the bridge over the Ouse at Bishopthorpe. Originally designated 1 a-g but only a, b and c were detected. 1c is now called 2. 1a is the source of the part-made, tanged arrow.



Designer centre, 1c

Short search for those who finished their areas in 1. But it yielded much material to suggest that it was a cloth trading place up to 700 years before the modern Designer Outlet.  The data is not used in the analysis as work was not gridded – but an interesting area nonetheless. Note: The original serial 2 in the search logbook is not used. Serial 2 data refers to area 1c.



Landing Lane

The land east of Fulford Hall and adjacent to Landing Lane. See also 11 which is just to the south.



Fulford Hall, Paddock

The paddock leading to Bishopthorpe Ings included a re-visit for quality control. Attempts to identify items on any of the Ings were unsuccessful, apart from a few modern coins and discarded drinks cans.



Cemetery extension

Undertaken over 3 sessions, so there are references to 5 a, b & c. The last searches used GPS 


40 Acre Field also used in the text to include 7, 8 & 9

A preliminary scan of the land south of Germany Beck and near the west boundary of Fulford golf course. 7,8 and 9 were all follow-on surveys of this area – So the designations overlap these areas. No GPS or gridding was used for this small but significant survey.



Spoil heap

A 2 hour scan over the spoil when developers were doing some archaeological investigation. The heaps were only checked after, and not while, they were being dug.



Roman road

East-most part of the 40 acre field and close to the golf course. The hope was to find pointers to indicate that this was the track of the road from York to Pool Bridge.



Beck bank, hoard

This site was chosen as it had yielded some interesting iron shapes during the initial survey. It lies along the south bank of Germany Beck as it heads towards the golf course and in a section where many crossings (fords) were found as the beck base was probed. The land has been subject to agricultural improvement so some parts are not as they were in 1066.




This was designed as a preliminary scan but we were not given permission by the land agent to revisit the field after revealing what was found. The land lies just north of the Beck and east of the cemetery.



Water Fulford

This is the southern part of Water Fulford adjacent to area 3 being the part to the north of the ‘road’. Used GPS


Terry’s field

A two part search to look at areas that were similar to what was by then recognised as the likely battlefield area. The first was for the Ings and the second of ploughlands. This was a small survey so was not gridded.


Walmgate Stray

A possible place for a battle although it did not fit the literature very well. It might have provided an escape route and would also serve as a comparison with other areas. This was a preliminary survey so was not gridded.

Attached to most pages is a chart of the number of finds for 03/04.



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 February 2015

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