The Battle of Towton – in your living room.

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in News

To commemorate the 550th anniversary of the Battle of Towton on 29 March 1461 a fascinating new DVD is available.   It is based on a BBC documentary, but includes so much more which due to time constraints had to be cut out of the documentary.  This is not to be missed.

On a cold and snowy day in 1461 Henry VI’s Lancastrians and Edward IV’s Yorkists met on a field near Towton in Yorkshire. It has been estimated that 100 000 men fought at the 12 hour battle. At the end of the day approx. 28 000 men were dead, an equivalent of 1% of the English population at the time, Britain’s bloodiest battle.

During building work in 1996 the workmen found a mass burial pit from the battle.  This was excavated and analysed by archaeologists of the University of Bradford.  The results from this investigation have helped tremendously in our knowledge of the fighting in the period of the Wars of the Roses, as anyone who has read the book Blood Red Roses will know.

Recently the battle was in the news as fragments of hand-held guns were found at the battle site, the earliest indication for this type of weapon (see here for more information).

The BBC documentary manages to bring the battle alive and gives you a feeling of the horror it must have been for those who were involved. You can find more on the contents of the documentary here.

The extras include a lot of additional footage.  The view of the battlefield from the air is beautiful yet haunting.  There is information on the Towton Battlefield Society.  I found the part on the White Rose Armoury particularly fascinating, after all, the making of plate armour is not all that different from dress making, though the materials are different of course.  There is a segment of the ringing of the Bells of All Saints at Saxton, which were installed a few years after the battle.  The full interviews at the Royal Armouries shed a lot of additional information on the weapons which would have been used and the protection which was available to the soldiers – not much for the average man.  Then there is a segment about the findings of a Metal Detectorist and last but not least one on Towton Skeleton No 16.  These are the remains of an older man, whose skull shows that he had survived horrific injuries before.

Experts in all the various fields were interviewed.  It was especially exciting to come face to face with Helen Cox, the author of The Battle of Wakefield Revisited, who incidentally first alerted me to this new DVD.

All in all this is fascinating viewing, seeing the battlefield in snow as it would have been that day touched me tremendously.  The DVD has been produced by rkproductions in association with the Towton Battlefield Society.  It costs £10.99 plus £1.49 for p&p (approx $22 at the present exchange rate).  For more information and how to order go to the website of rkproductions.

I was a bit worried that the region codes for DVDs might be a problem, as it is produced in the UK which is in a different zone to Australia, but there were no problems, even with my rather sensitive DVD player.

I can only recommend this DVD as essential viewing for anyone interested in the Wars of the Roses.  And as a Ricardian I was very happy to notice that the roses depicted on the actual disc are white for the House of York.

Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 at 10:43 and is filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Trackback/Ping

  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Horrible Histories Of King Richard III    Aug 06 2011 / 2pm:

    […] may be mainly known for his children’s books, he also presented the fascinating BBC programme on The Battle of Towton 1461, which is available on DVD with many extras from […]

Leave a reply

Name (*)
Mail (will not be published) (*)