Wednesday, June 27, 2012

24th June, Bosworth Field

This was my first visit to Bosworth since Glenn Foard's surveying work sponsored by The Battlefields Trust.

I am working on a new DBA scenario for the battle and Mike Ingram, whose new book is just out, was guiding a study day/visit.  'Bosworth 1485', in the Battle Story series is a project built on the new work done at the battlefield, and deserves to be the new orthodoxy (at least until we get a planned publication from Glenn Foard and Anne Curry next year ...)...

Bosworth 1485 by Mike Ingram (in a handy hardback for less than £10 ...)

The Battlefields Trust - defending heritage organising guided walks on British battlefields throughout the year.  See the events section.

There is still quite a lot to enjoy in the Visitor Centre exhibition, and most of the battle narrative is still valid (just it happened somewhere else) ... plus there is a new section on battlefield archaeology and on locating the field.

(a detailed explanation of modern surveying techniques)

Analysis of historic place names (especially along Fenn Lane) combined with soil samples to identify a probably battle site that matched well with contemporary accounts like that of Polydore Vergil.  Surveying and digging brought up significant and plentiful finds to confirm this location.  In particular, large amounts of shot were found, possibly validating the presence of large amounts of artillery on the field.

 (up on Ambion Hill - the party surveys the traditional site)

Richard's baggage was probably camped at White Moors and it is very likely men from the large force were encamped across the area including on the high ground at Ambion Hill (the traditional, though never convincing, site).    Richard was forced to deploy on the flat low ground around the Roman Road as the earl of Richmond, Henry Tudor, closed upon his position.

(Richard's Army deployed in these fields in 1485)

Much of the area across from Fenn Lane was marsh in the 15th Century, and Henry deliberately chose this avenue of attack to take advantage of the marsh - which would likely nullify Richard's potential advantage in cavalry and his large array of ordnance.

(in front of the contemporary marsh, historian Mike Ingram interprets that battle)

As many of the party were heard to comment, the site certainly looks and feels like a battlefield, and it is easier to reconcile with the reports of the eyewitnesses.

 (the rising ground towards the horizon in front of Stoke Golding is where the Stanleys drew up, unresponsive to Richard's command)

As many readers will know, gaps appeared in Richmond's line as his hard pressed troops clustered around their standards.  Richard saw his chance to settle the issue and charged forth seeking a decisive action with the rebellious earl.   Decisive it proved, though not as Richard would have scripted it.  The Stanleys responded, but joining Richmond and engulfing Richard's band.   Tradition has it that he was driven into the marsh and met his defiant but ignominious end.

(here, Richard met his fate, and 331 years of Plantagenet rule in England came to an end)

A very worthy and informative visit.  I understand the battle and the landscape more surely than I did before - and, as currently interpreted, the narrative is certainly coherent and convincing.  Recommended.

The marsh will play a very important part in my reconstruction, and it hard to see how this could be a battle fought from a free deployment - if Mike's narrative is followed, the lack of time to prepare a position meant that the artillery, always in the rearward would naturally fall into the line on the left, opposite the marsh, just as Henry intended.  

My thanks to all involved for their help - see Bosworth on the BFT stand at the Festival of History ...

(Mike signing copies of his new book at White Moors car park where, appropriately, our baggage was drawn up for the battlefield walk)

In 2005, the Battlefields Trust was commissioned by Leicestershire County Council, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to investigate the probable location of the battlefield.  Professor Anne Curry and Dr Janet Dickinson reviewed the documentary evidence;  Dr Mark Page, Tracey Partida and David Hall worked on reconstructing the historic landscape;  Professor Barrie Cox worked on the early names.  Rodney Burton worked on soil mapping;  Birmingham and Bradford Universities analysed the peat deposits to establish when areas of marsh disappeared;   Glenn Foard, Richard Mackinder and a volunteer team conducted a metal detector survey, Glenn, Richard Knox  and Rob Jabaway analysing the finds; and assistance was received in the final stages from Leeds, Cranfield and the Royal Armouries.


painterman said...

nice to Mike giving forth - up to his midrift in grasses!
Will be getting his book...and looking forward to that Anne Curry one too.

SoA Shows North said...

Apparently he had been there prepping for the walk a few weeks ago and it was all clear ... but there's nothing like a rainy summer to get things growing!

Actually, it worked OK for me - I had no problem believing the whole area was once a marsh ...


TWR said...

Hi Phil, I look forward to reading more about your DBA version of Bosworth. I certainly enjoyed the article on Zama in Slingshot.

In the meantime is there any chance of a review of the book, or a little more of an overview?

SoA Shows North said...

Thanks Keith ...

I have some good ideas for the game (which are quite 'V3', which is interesting).

I will look at putting up a synopsis of Mike's arguments in the Books section of the SoA Forum