My kingdom for a battlefield: researchers to look for the site where Richard III really died

Visitors to one of the most important battle sites in British history, immortalised by William Shakespeare with Richard III's desperate offer of his kingdom for a horse, are almost certainly visiting the wrong spot, expert analysis of the evidence has concluded.

Leicestershire County Council is to embark on a three-year archaeological and topographical research project to identify where the Battle of Bosworth was really fought in 1485, marking the end of the Wars of the Roses and the beginning of Tudor England. The battle was the last time a British king was killed on the battlefield.

Some 22,000 people a year attend a visitor centre at Ambion Hill, near Market Bosworth, which marks the spot where the (reputedly) hunchbacked monarch was supposed to have lost his crown to Henry Tudor.

Glenn Foard, a historian, has reviewed the evidence for the council and concluded that an alternative site suggested by a researcher, Peter Foss, 15 years ago is probably the right place. But he is to get a proper chance to check, thanks to a near £1m grant announced by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) today, which will pay for research, including aerial surveys and soil analysis, to help pinpoint where Richard might have cried: "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!"

The studies could even shed light on whether, as is commonly held, Richard was betrayed by his supporters or whether Henry, subsequently crowned Henry VII, was a superior commander. Mutterings of confusion over where the battle took place emerged only comparatively recently. For years, the classic view of the battle was as recorded by William Hutton in the 18th century.

Only with the 500th anniversary of the battle in 1985 did historians begin to think again. In 1990, Peter Foss published a small book which suggested an alternative site, a mile or so away, on low-lying ground between the villages of Shenton, Stoke Golding and Dadlington. Further coals were thrown upon the fire three years ago when Michael Jones, a historian suggested a third option, near Atherstone in Warwickshire.

Mr Foard thinks Peter Foss is probably right. But whatever emerges, the visitor centre will be updated and modernised along with the current trail identifying key moments in the battle.

Despite the importance of battles such as Hastings and Naseby in British history, it had previously proved impossible to raise the funds for studies of this kind, Mr Foard said. "This is the first opportunity to have a major professionally organised battlefield study in England. It will be the biggest battlefield project we've had in this country."

Sheila Stone, the HLF's regional manager, said: "Bosworth was a key event in the nation's history and it could be a top tourist attraction. It's very exciting we can help settle the debate and firmly place Bosworth on the tourist map."

Britain has 270 known battlefields, of which about 220 are in England, at least 40 in Scotland and fewer than 10 in Wales. It is only in England that an official register of battlefields exists, compiled by English Heritage. Many believe that battlefields are neglected within the hierarchy of heritage sites in terms of funding, compared with the plethora of well-preserved castles, stately homes and Roman sites. Bosworth Field is one of the better-preserved battlefield sites, with a visitors' centre to cater for the perennial crowds of tourists.

Last year on 22 August, the anniversary of the battle, the fighting was re-enacted on Bosworth Field by the Wars of the Roses Federation, complete with footsoldiers, cavalry and knights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Bathroom Showroom Manager / Bathroom Sales Designer

£22 - £25k basic + Commission=OTE £35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Bathroom Sh...

Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Engineer

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity now exists for a...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones