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Sunday, 21 February 2010

Metal Detectorists help find the real site of Battle of Bosworth

It is official. After four years of study and Metal Detecting on a muddy piece of farmland belonging to Alf Oliver, archaeologists have now discovered his field is the true location of the Battle of Bosworth.The exact location, which has been the topic of much debate amongst historians for years, was discovered as part of a groundbreaking archaeological survey to locate the Battle of Bosworth, funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The announcement came yesterday after a four-year study of the area.

It has ended years of speculation over the location of the historic clash between King Richard III and Henry Tudor in 1485.

The site was pinpointed by the discovery of a concentration of cannonball and gun shot, remains of an ancient marsh and the star find – a small silver gilt badge shaped like a boar, which was the emblem of Richard III.

Battlefields Trust archaeologist, Dr Glenn Foard, said:

"Using the new techniques of battlefield archaeology we have recovered evidence which proves exactly where the iconic English battle was fought. The site, never before suggested as the battlefield, straddles the Roman road known as the Fenn Lane, near Fenn lane farm. It is three kilometres south-west of Ambion Hill and a kilometre west of the site suggested by Peter Foss.

"The crucial archaeological evidence came from our systematic metal detecting survey. There may be relatively few finds from the battle, each of which has taken the team dozens of hours to locate, but several of the objects are amazing. The most important by far is the silver-gilt boar, which was Richard III’s own badge, given in large numbers to his supporters. But this one is special, because it is silver-gilt. It was almost certainly worn by a knight in King Richard’s own retinue who rode with the King to his death in his last desperate cavalry charge. It was found right next to the site of a small medieval marsh - and the King was killed when his horse became stuck in a mire.

"Other objects discovered as part of the survey include silver coins of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, a silver-gilt badge found close to where we believe the Duke of Norfolk was killed, and the largest collection of round shot ever found on a medieval battlefield in Europe. These artillery rounds, which range in size from 30mm - 94mm have redefined the importance of artillery at Bosworth and open a new, archaeological avenue of research into the origins of firepower on the battlefields of Europe."

David Sprason, Leicestershire County Council’s Cabinet Lead Member for Adults and Communities, said:

"The Battle of Bosworth is one of the most important moments in British history and Leicestershire County Council is incredibly proud to have secured the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to discover the true location of this pivotal battle. Now begins the exciting step of interpreting these findings at the Battlefield Heritage Centre, which will include an outdoor trail and a re-designed exhibition gallery with hands-on exhibits, where the archaeological items will be officially on display to the public from Easter. Thanks must go to all those involved with the project, including landowners, the survey team, volunteers and all the staff who have played their part in changing history."

Chair of the HLF committee in the East Midlands, Christopher Pennell, said:

"HLF is delighted to have funded this project which is providing Bosworth not only with a first rate Heritage Centre but also with a stream of exciting archaeological discoveries which will transform the story to be told about this pivotal battle in the nation’s history. Bosworth and its Battlefield will be transformed into a top quality heritage attraction where thousands of visitors will enjoy the area’s history and what can be learnt from our past by groundbreaking investigations. This project demonstrates again - as did recent successes at Melton, Snibston and Market Harborough museums - what can be achieved for heritage, for tourism and for the economy by HLF working with a County Council which cares about Leicestershire’s past."

The English Heritage Inspector of Ancient Monuments for the East Midlands, Jon Humble, said:

"Location - or location - or location? It has been hotly debated for years, yet today marks the end of the speculation and a new beginning for Bosworth Battlefield and our understanding of medieval warfare. This is ample evidence that archaeology can tackle big questions and cases that went cold centuries ago - and still provide magnificent answers.

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