How the battle of Bosworth was lost

The history books on one of Britain’s most important battles will have to be re-written. The bad news for scholars is that the Battle of Bosworth Field, which marked the end of medieval England, didn’t take place where historians thought it did. But the good news is that the mistake has saved the battlefield from being looted and destroyed by metal detectorists.

Using documentary evidence (including previously unknown manuscripts), place names, soil and peat analysis (to determine where medieval marches existed), and an archaeological metal detecting survey, a team of experts from Britain’s main battlefield archaeology organization, The Battlefields Trust, has now succeeded in finding the real location of Bosworth Field.

Their research shows that the battle took place approximately two miles southwest of the site traditionally associated with it.

But they are not revealing the exact location, for fear of its being raided by unauthorized metal detectorists.

The archaeological metal detecting survey is continuing and the battlefield trust hopes to use the emerging evidence to help reconstruct exactly how the battle was conducted.

The Battle of Bosworth Field was the final military encounter of the Wars of the Roses. Fought in 1485 between Richard III and Henry Tudor (who was crowned Henry VII after the battle), it ushered in the Tudor age and is usually seen as marking the end of the medieval period in England.

For more than 200 years, historians had thought that the battle was fought around Ambion Hill, west of the Leicestershire village of Shenton. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, various scholars proposed several other nearby sites.

So, in 2005, in order to clarify the situation, the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £154,000 to the Battlefield Trust for a 4 year investigation to investigate where the real battlefield was.

Earlier this year – at a location not previously proposed - the Trust’s archaeologists found what they believe to be the core of the battlefield. Work will now continue to define the edge of this late 15th century area of killing fields.

So far, the archaeologists have found dozen s of pieces of military material left over from the battle.

They include 19 items of artillery shot, three items of handgun shot and fragments of swords, bridle fittings, spurs – and even three coins almost certainly lost by combatants during the battle.

Most of the artillery shot are between 23 millimetres and 65 millimetres in diameter – but there was one very large ball, 93 millimetres in diameter and weighing 7.2 kilos. Covered in a layer of lead, most of the shot was made of stone. They appear to have been fired form 6-12 artillery pieces located at two positions.

Experts in medieval gunnery suspect that the artillery played a role at the beginning of the battle – but may have become less useful tactically as the battle progressed. It was notoriously difficult to turn the artillery pieces round to face new directions – so adapting to the progress of the battle would have been difficult for these early gunners. Their artillery pieces and carriages would probably have weighed between 400 and 1000 kilos each.

The finds are important because they represent by far the largest collection of 15th-16th century artillery shot ever found in Europe. The continuing investigations should help reveal whether Henry had artillery as well as Richard. History only reveals Richard as having big guns. Archaeology may now demonstrate that they both did.

Now Leicestershire County Council is planning to change some aspects of its Bosworth battlefield visitor centre to take account of the new discoveries – and the change in battle field location.

However, although the new location is not covered by the visitor centre and associated country park, the newly discovered battlefield site is visible from the top of Ambion Hill some 300 metres from the visitor centre.

The County Council is also working with the police to protect the as yet undisclosed battle field location. Archaeologists say that the reason that medieval military material remained on the battlefield is that its location was not known up till now – and has therefore not attracted attention from metal detectorists.

The newly discovered location will be announced sometime next year – and negotiations with land owners may allow some public access through existing rights of way.

The real site of the battle was only found at the very end of the four year investigation. “For more than a year we had hints we were close to the action but it was only in the last week of planned field work, in the last possible area, that the critical evidence was found,” said archaeologist Glenn Foard of the Battlefields Trust.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried