Finding Fulford - The Search For The First Battle Of 1066by Charles Jones
The battle of Fulford was fought just south of York on 20th September 1066 between the Northern Earls and King Harald Hardrada, leading a Norse army. Harald Hardrada had the trecherous Earl Tostig, the brother of King Harold II, king of England, as his ally. Tostig might have devised the strategy that detained his brother, defending the south coast from the expected invasion from Normandy. But King Harold was already on his way north when the battle took place.
Finding Fulford sets out a confident hypothesis for the location, based on the body of evidence and research undertaken to find the first of the three battles of that autumn.
The report finds that the literature identifies a location south of York and the geology uniquely points to Germany Beck as the only militarily significant ditch mentioned in several sources as the place of the battle. Modelling the way the landscape has changed since 1066 allows the descriptions provided for the battle, to be tested.
The reconstructed surface provides positive feedback for the literature and helps to make more sense of what was written in Norse sources about the course of the battle. The emergence of substantial quantities of ferrous material just south of the Beck, reinforces the claim of Germany Beck as the place of the battle.
These notable concentrations of ferrous finds, including, tools, axes and other shaped billets, were co-located with hearth bottoms, slag, charcoal, and tuyères fragments. The shape of the billets suggests a military rather than a civil use. The interpretation provided is of post-battle reprocessing. There was not one centrally organised workshop since the number, and spread of hearths, suggests a 'gold rush', perhaps with each warband processing material. These sites were found to corresponded closely to the assumed area of the fighting and no similar sites were found in the surrounding areas which was also surveyed.
It is also suggested that the work was disrupted by the defeat of the Viking invaders at Stamford Bridge, five days after their victory at Fulford. This is an important assumption as it helps explain why so much material was abandoned at Fulford in a pattern that has not yet been found elsewhere. The interrupted-reprocessing hypothesis also explains why other sites of similar antiquity have failed to yield a single weapon fragment. If the recycling work had been completed, only hearth debris would have been found, so the Fulford site might be unique.
Almost as important as the evidence that has emerged was that no contra-indicators were found to cast doubt on the proposed site nor were any consistent pointers to another location identified, even though much work was devoted to searching for alternate sites before Germany Beck was identified as the locus.
The investigation of the Fulford battlefield was done under some unnecessarily restrictive conditions and a chapter is devoted to work that needs to be undertaken. The evidence suggests that the site still has much to reveal.
Alongside the archaeological investigations, the report relates the events of the three battles of 1066 and also provides a detailed narrative of the battle, based on all that has been revealed by the work. The whole style of the work is designed to make it accessible to any interested reader.
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