Objectors fight to save site of Yorkist victory: An historic battlefield is under threat from gravel extraction. Oliver Gillie reports
Friday 06 August 1993
Will Swynnerton, who has campaigned for the preservation of the site, climbed into a tree above the ancient elm hedge to point out the route taken by the Yorkist army as it feinted a retreat.
The inexperienced Lancastrian soldiers did not know there was a narrow gulley at the bottom of the valley as they pursued.
'As the Lancastrians clambered up the steep side of the gulley they were at the mercy of the Yorkists,' Mr Swynnerton said.
'The Yorkists had field artillery. It is believed to be the first time artillery was used in a large set piece battle in Britain. They fired stone cannon balls and grape shot which was probably the same gravel that the extractors are now selling for motorway construction. The ancient hedge is actually mentioned by the Burgundian chronicler, Jehan de Waurin, in a contemporary account. We are very fortunate that the medieval landscape has been preserved and we can see the exact positions of the forces.
'The medieval road to Market Drayton ran along the valley side of this hedge. Although there is no road here now, its position can be identified because the surface of the field on the valley side of the hedge is three feet lower than on the other side. And on the other side of the valley the exact spot is marked where Lord Audley, the 60-year-old leader of the Lancastrian forces, was cut down and killed.'
Mr Swynnerton, an antique car dealer, and his father, Brian, a school chaplin and parish councillor, are leading the campaign against gravel extraction at the site. An established gravel quarry at Almington, run by ARC Ltd, a subsidiary of Hanson plc, wants to extend so that it can extract material from the hill beneath the Lancastrian lines, drastically changing the topography and lowering the level of the ground by up to 40ft (12m).
Objectors oppose the extension because, apart from the destruction of local history, lorries from the quarry cause a major problem on the small country roads, the gravel tip is an eyesore, and the digging has diverted underground water so that springs and wells have dried up. They believe that the gravel is obtained at the expense of environmental devastation and is so cheap that much of it is being wasted as in- fill. A public inquiry into the future of the battlefield finished in March and its report is in preparation.
The Battlefield Trust, dedicated to the preservation of battlefields, is meeting at York University tomorrow to plan its campaign. Battlefields are not listed like old buildings and at present special pleading must be made for the preservation of each one. The trust has now persuaded English Heritage to register the battlefields of England and Wales and so far the list extends to some 42 sites.
The trust hopes to prevent the sort of destruction which occurred at the site of the battle of Naseby (1645), near Rugby, where a link between the M1 and A1, now nearing completion, passes across the centre of the Civil War site. Argument lasted for 20 years while objectors took the county council through two public inquiries, five court cases and two appeals to the European Environmental Commission.
Sir Charles Rowley, who lives nearby in Naseby Hall, said: 'It was all fruitless but we hope other battlefields may be preserved. The irony of it all is that the county council has now officially moved the site of the battlefield to a place one mile north of its true position.'
Leading article, page 19
(Photograph and map omitted)
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 3 WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
- 4 Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
- 5 Germanwings plane crash: I have depression. That doesn't make me a psychopath
East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Germanwings plane crash: Investigators may have already found remains of suspected killer co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Children take eight Isis captives to be beheaded in latest propaganda video
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrigeration, mechan...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A publishing company based in F...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...
£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Structural Engineer ...