Posts Tagged ‘Battles’


Richard III: The New Evidence – on Youtube

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Greyfriars Dig, News, Research

film_reel smWe reported earlier that Channel 4 would be screening a third documentary on Richard III. It was broadcast in the UK in the evening of 17 August 2014, at the end of the Bosworth Anniversary weekend, leaving us, who do not live in the UK, impatient to get a chance to watch the programme, too. A friend of mine discovered that it has been uploaded to Youtube, where it is available to all of us.

The programme is based on the new scientific research into Richard’s diet, but the main attraction is a young man, Dominic Smee. He is a perfect body double of Richard, slightly built and having the same curvature of the spine. He was taught to fight, on foot and on horseback, like a medieval warrior and had a full set of armour made especially for him. Not only did Dominic show that someone suffering from scoliosis can be an accomplished fighter, but he could also tell us about his own experience. It was interesting to hear that he found riding on a medieval saddle easier than on a modern one and that the armour gave his body support.

By bringing us these facts, it is easier to visualise a long dead king as the real living breathing person he once was. A fascinating programme. What better way to spend a rainy day?!

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   Posted by: Leslie McCawley    in Meetings, News, NSW Branch News

The last meeting of the year was held on Saturday, 8 December 2012, with old members and new, and various friends visiting from other branches. Judith, our branch chairperson, welcomed a full house and was followed by Judy with a brief treasurer’s report. She confirmed that all the renewal fees had been received and were now en route to the UK.

Our branch secretary Julia then discussed the ongoing news from Leicester about the parking lot dig where the suspected remains of Richard III have been unearthed. It is a very exciting time to be a Ricardian and the timing is excellent to pique the interest of the general public for the upcoming convention. The convention deadline is fast approaching so please get your registrations in soon. There is a lot of work involved in putting on an event so all offers of volunteer assistance are welcome, please contact any of the committee members if you can help. Julia also made a plea for a replacement for her role as branch secretary, as she will be leaving soon and needs time to hand over a lot of business to her successor.

The webmaster’s report was then given by Dorothea, who reminded us that it is a lot of work to keep it active and interesting, and she would like to think that all members with an internet connection are reading it regularly. There are still increasing numbers of international visitors to the website, and that is high praise. The website also features book reviews and links to an every growing array of fascinating late medieval oriented websites.

One of Dorothea’s most recent posts was a link to a Canadian TV news report on the progress of the identification of the remains found in Leicester, which was very interesting and well worth watching. Author John Ashdown-Hill was interviewed, along with the forensics experts who reported the skeleton as having scoliosis of the spine, a significant head wound and the presence of an arrowhead near the spine. Also featured was a 17th generation Canadian descendant of Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, whose maternal DNA will hopefully help to confirm the skeleton as Richard’s.

Dorothea then distributed the always well-written branch journal, The Chronicles of the White Rose, one of the best perks of membership.

Lynne then gave her report regarding the stores of memorabilia, and presented a sample of the appealing pewter boar lapel pins now available on order.

Our program for the day was a very interesting talk by our treasurer Judy about her April attendance at the 11th Triennial Conference at the University of Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK entitled “Bosworth and Warfare: New Finds, New Ideas.” Many experts on late medieval warfare spoke about all aspects of war in the era of interest.  Judy’s detailed presentation is posted on our branch website, and well worth reading, as it was fascinating!

Following Richard’s body from Bosworth to Leicester, Dorothea gave a short update on the dig and the find of male remains as well as the variety of tests being performed on the remains.

A highlight of this holiday meeting was a performance of vignettes written and performed by Isolde and Julia. This included cleverly reworked Christmas carols with Ricardian commentary for group singing (e.g. ‘Away in Some Danger’ and ‘O Little Town of Middleham’); a play about Elizabeth Wydville’s dim prospects as a single mum; and a list of personages never to be invited to a Ricardian Christmas, including Thomas More, Lord Stanley, and Henry Tudor.

The first meeting of the new year will be on 9 February 2013, with invited guest speaker Rosamund Burton who will be talking about the ancient pilgrim path in Waterford, Ireland known as Saint Declan’s Way.

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   Posted by: Judy Howard    in Ricardian Places

A report from the 11th Triennial Conference of the Richard III Society,

Loughborough, 20 – 22 April 2012

Well, it is months since I attended the Triennial Conference in the UK and I will say that I enjoyed it immensely and would go again tomorrow if the opportunity arose, but I somehow feel that the events of the more recent months have almost overshadowed my experience.  Within weeks of my return to Australia the Greyfriars Dig commenced and next we have skeletal remains which may well be those of Richard himself.

However, at the Conference we were delighted by the presentations from the two academics who had made such monumental discoveries of the battlefields of Bosworth and Towton, and I will go into these presentations a little more.

Recent years have been good for investigation and discovery regarding Richard, the Yorkists and our Society.

You will already be aware of the programme for the triennial conference and if I was asked to choose which was my favourite it would be a hard call.  However, I think the tour of the new site for the battle of Bosworth was the most thrilling, followed by the presentation by Mark Stretton on the ‘Power and Effectiveness of the Warbow in Battles’.

We were also treated with a presentation by Dr Glenn Foard, the person responsible for identifying the new Bosworth and discovering all the wonderful artefacts which have generally enlightened thought on late medieval warfare.  In his presentation he not only brought the long and arduous investigation to light, but we heard about the importance of the discoveries of the great number of cannon balls found at Bosworth.

In terms of the confirmation of the site, the identification of the marsh, which was confirmed by soil sampling and then the analysis of the landscape, which matched the historical records, meant that the new site was now undisputed.

Dr Foard told us that artillery and guns were known to have been crucial to battle strategy and at the time were known to be important weapons of the future.  It was also interesting to know that there were no arrowheads found in the area, unlike the number of arrowheads found at the Towton battlefield site. In addition, there was not the quantity of evidence at Bosworth that was found at Towton, and Dr Foard thought this was attributed to the fact that the battle of Towton resulted in the deaths in battle of a far greater number of nobles than were killed at Bosworth.  At Bosworth a number of artefacts were found where the action was concentrated, and this was where the silver boar brooch and a fragment of the hilt of a gilded sword were found.

Dr Foard explained that the Bosworth discovery increased the understanding of the use of firepower and there was not much evidence of the use of handguns at Bosworth, unlike on the Continent and in Burgundy. The evidence suggested that a bigger calibre was used at Bosworth, lead with flint, lead with stone and iron with iron.  It is also now thought that the Wars of the Roses were important battles for the development of artillery and the evidence supports this theory.  The findings at Bosworth provided evidence of the battle tactics that were deployed at the time and also that the pressures and temperatures of different materials used to make guns were well understood by the commanders at the time.  For instance they understood muzzle velocity, whether to elevate guns or to fire point blank, that the cannon balls bounced on the ground and the angle of elevation that was needed to maximise the bounce and therefore increase the opportunity of hitting a target. Dr Foard thought that gunpowder was the determining factor in the development of artillery and guns.

The actual battlefield is now a working farm and great pains have been taken to conceal the actual site from the public, to avoid hoards of amateurs using metal detectors and collecting artefacts but who would also damage the site and interrupt the farm.  The farmer and his wife were very charming people who felt honoured and thrilled that such an important historical event occurred on a site they now own.  In this, everyone is very fortunate to have such custodians, who in conjunction with archaeologists and serious academics, will ensure the preservation of the site until it has been thoroughly and scientifically investigated so that all archaeological evidence can be properly collected and studied.  Dr Foard said there was much more work to be done on the site as it had not been fully surveyed, and this could take years of work to complete.

I must say, it was a thrill to visit the site, it was a special occasion where I got a true sense of battle that took place and the spot was pointed out where it was thought the battle was most intense, and where it was suspected that Richard had lost his life.

A view of a section of the new battlefield from the trail at the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre which opened up new avenue of research and is awaiting further archaeological investigation. (photo by Dorothea Preis)

The next lecture I most enjoyed was by Mark Stretton on the ‘Power and Effectiveness of the Warbow in Battle’.  This was extremely informative and entertaining. Mark has been entered in the Guinness Book of Records as an archer, he is a master arrowsmith and has made an in-depth study of his craft.  Through study and experimentation Mark has identified the uses for each type of arrow head from the period, its effectiveness in piercing armour and the amount of damage it was intended to inflict.  He told us that the bodkin type of arrowhead was the most commonly used because of its ability to pierce armour and was more likely the type used in battles around this period.  It will be interesting to hear any comments he has to make regarding the arrowhead found in the human remains recently discovered in the Leicester car park as I understand that this arrowhead was of a shape thought to be used for hunting boar (funnily enough!!) and is very different to the bodkin-type arrowhead and apparently not known for its ability to pierce armour.  It will be great to hear any comments about this and whether Mark will revise his thoughts, or indeed have any other comments to make.

Mark also explained that the greatest vulnerability to arrow shot, was in areas of the body where the armour was weakest, that is in the arm pits, elbows, groin and legs.  He also made the further comment that from a tactical point of view, an arrow wound would cause a nobleman to die slowly and when the nobleman was hit, it took the attention of his retainers, giving a tactical advantage to the opposing side.  These are unpleasant thoughts.

And as a last interesting comment, another presenter Tobias Capwell who is the Curator of Arms & Armour for the Wallace Collection in London, gave an interesting presentation on armour and how he thought it was pregnant with meaning – how it was an indication of status and wealth.  He thought Richard, on going into battle, would have worn a surcoat over his armour which was made of rich material, probably silk with gold embroidery.  The armour he wore at Bosworth was probably fully gilded and probably looked like a golden mirror and would have been worth several millions of dollars in modern currency.  This would have been evidence of conspicuous consumption; however this would have been expected of a King.  The armour or the surcoat could also have had jewels and pearls embedded in them.

Tobias explained that a king’s splendid armour was like a beacon on the battlefield, soldiers were drawn to it, he led from the front, the imagery was very important.  But the wealth displayed by the armour worn, by the King or his nobles, even though it caused enemies to be drawn to them on the field, it was also seen as an insurance policy – capture me, don’t kill me, I am worth saving as my ransom will be worth it to you.

The Conference was great and I’m really going to try to get to the next one.  I hope you can too.

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Palm Sunday Event

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Just a reminder that this coming Sunday (1 April) is Palm Sunday and thus the day to commemorate the Battle of Towton, fought in a snow storm on Palm Sunday 1461 (29 March).  As every year the Towton Battlefield Society is hosting an event to “commemorate those men from the House of York and the House of Lancaster who fell on that fateful day’.

As we have seen before, Helen Cox will be launching her new book Walk Towton 1461 at this event.  We are grateful to Adrian White and theTowton Battlefield Society for providing us with a link to their official programme.  What a pity that for us “down under” it’s just that little bit too far to go round – we can just be jealous of all our readers, who have the opportunity to visit the commemoration with its fascinating shows and walk the battlefield on one of the guided tours.

We all wish all those taking part in the commemoration, whether actively or as a visitor, an interesting day and hope that the weather will be better than on that fateful Palm Sunday 551 years ago.

To find out more and view the programme, visit the page of the Towton Battlefield Society.

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Visiting Yorkshire?

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Helen Cox, author of the highly acclaimed The Battle of Wakefield Revisited:  A Fresh Perspective on Richard of York’s Final Battle, December 1460, told us about two upcoming events, which would be of great interest to all Ricardians.

Tomorrow, Saturday 24 March 2012, the event ‘Searching for Wakefield’s Battlefield’ is launched with the aim to find evidence of the battle, which cost Richard’s father, brother and uncle as well as thousands of others their lives.  If you should be lucky enough to find yourself in the area, make sure that you go to the Sandal Castle Visitor Centre and meet Helen in person.  And don’t forget to bring your copy of Helen’s brilliant Walk Wakefield 1460: A Visitor Guide to Battle-Related Sites along!

The feeling among the Yorkists was doubtlessly rather depressed after the loss of the Battle of Wakefield, however, just three months later with the victory of the Battle of Towton on Palm Sunday, 29 March 1461 the Yorkist supremacy seemed complete.

To commemorate this bloody battle (no, I’m not swearing – it is regarded as the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil) there will be an event hosted by the Towton Battlefield Society on this year’s Palm Sunday on 1 April 2012.  At the event Helen is also launching her new book Walk Towton 1461.  To quote from the flyer:

With Walk Towton 1461, you can follow the Earl’s campaign from his first victory at Mortimer’s Cross to disaster at St Albans, the fierce contests of Ferrybridge and Dintingdale, and the bloody finale at Towton, with an illustrated guide to visiting sites connected with the battles. Each of the four main sections contains a short history, directions to sites (including maps), and information on opening times and admission charges

During the commemoration, you can buy this new book at the TBS Authors Stall in the Barn, Old London Road, Towton for £6.00.  And all of us, who can’t be there, can order a copy of Helen’s latest book as well as of her others from York Publishing Services on for £7.50.

Helen Cox & Alan Stringer, Walk Towton 1461: A Visitor Guide to Battle-Related Sites, Herstory Writing & Interpretation/York Publishing Services, 2012.  ISBN 978-0-9565768-2-8 (Paperback, 70 pages, 20 black-and-white plates, 6 line drawings)

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Battle of Towton Commemoration

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News, News from Other Organizations

With thanks to Helen Cox for alerting us about this event.

The Towton Battlefield Society is planning a commemoration of the Battle of Towton, fought in a snowstorm on Palm Sunday, 29 March 1461.  The battle is considered to have been the biggest, bloodiest and longest battle on English soil.  It was fought between the adherents of Henry VI of the House of Lancaster and those of Edward of the House of York, ending with a Yorkist victory and Edward IV on the throne.

The commemoration will take place on this year’s Palm Sunday, 1 April 2012.  It will be a full day event, from 10h00 to 16h00, however, guided walks will be starting from 9h30.  The walks cover a distance of 4 miles (stout footwear is required) and will start every 15 minutes until 10h45.

There will also be a living history camp or you can look at – and be tempted to buy from! – craft stalls.  To make the battle come alive there will be combat demonstrations.  And at 13h00 visitors have the opportunity to attend a  memorial service.

This promises to be fun for the whole family.  And we hope for the organisers of this event and everyone who is involved that the weather will not be too evocative of that bloody battle fought 551 years ago!

Below is  copy of the poster for this event.  If you think you might be attending, let me know and I will get the press release for you, which should come out in March.

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Tewkesbury Abbey

   Posted by: Judy Howard    in Meetings

I’ve been allocated the letter “T” for my Scrabble talk at the Auhust General Meeting, so I would like to talk about Tewkesbury Abbey which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2007.  I will talk a little about the Battlefield as well, because it is so integral to the Abbey.

The Abbey is located on the edge of the Cotswolds, about 10 kms from Cheltenham and is near the junction of the Severn and Avon Rivers.  Tewkesbury the town is very old, most buildings date back to mediaeval period, with two stories and what we know as the “Tudor” style.

It’s quaint and pleasant.  To the right of the main square coming into the town you come across this enormous church, which dominates and almost overwhelms the small town. Read the rest of this entry »

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Guest post by Helen Cox

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

Helen Cox, the author of The Battle of Wakefield Revisited and Walk Wakefield 1460, attended the recent conference “Interpreting Battlefield Finds: Making the Most of Museums”.  Here she tells us her experiences from this interesting conference.  Thank you, Helen, for sharing this with us!

Conference Review:  Interpreting Battlefield Finds: Making the Most of Museums

Royal Armouries, Leeds, Saturday 11th June 2011

Productive partnership was very much the theme of Interpreting Battlefield Finds: Making the Most of Museums, jointly run by the Leeds Royal Armouries and the Battlefields Trust.

Proceedings were opened by Dr. Jonathan Riley, Director General and Master of the Armouries, who welcomed delegates and paid tribute to the late Richard Holmes.

Alex Hildred, Curator of Ordnance for the Mary Rose Trust, then gave the first paper on ‘Interpretation of a Shipwreck Assemblage from the Battle of the Solent, 1545’. Finds from Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose, included 91 guns of varying size made from cast bronze, cast iron and wrought iron, complete with gun carriages, and thousands of stone, cast iron and lead projectiles. The Royal Armouries and Mary Rose Trust created working replicas of several types of gun, and undertook test firings to demonstrate the firepower of Tudor artillery. Armouries staff also identified a cartridge former and gunner’s rule (for checking cannonball sizes) in the assemblage – and, by recognising a maker’s mark, showed that Henry VIII’s army was using matchlock muskets imported from Gardone in Venice. The assemblage also contained more than 2000 arrows and 172 longbows – almost equalling the total number of firearms – indicating that archery was still important at this date. Archers could achieve a more rapid rate of fire and greater long-distance accuracy than musketeers, and longbows were a useful fall-back if gunpowder was spoiled at sea; however, within a few decades developments in firearm technology would render this traditional English weapon obsolete. Read the rest of this entry »

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Vote for Bosworth!

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in News

The Battle of Bosworth on 22 August 1485 was fought between King Richard III and the invading army of Henry Tudor, ending with the death of Richard.  Last year, an archaeological survey finally established the actual site of the battlefield, which on subsequent maps had moved further and further eastwards from its depiction on the earliest map (Saxton 1575).

For the visitor to Bosworth the interactive visitors’ centre is a must, showing information on the battle and its consequences.  It also showcases the archaeological finds made during the survey, including the largest collection of 15th century cannonballs from any battlefield in Europe.  You can walk the new Battle of Bosworth Trail around Ambion Hill, which also includes two interpreted views across the actual battlefield site. Read the rest of this entry »

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Walk the Wakefield Battlesite with Helen Cox

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis    in Bookworm

Helen Cox, Walk Wakefield 1460: A Visitor Guide to Battle-Related Sites, YPD Books, 2011, ISBN  978-0-9565768-1-1

We all know Helen Cox from her fascinating analysis of the Battle of Wakefield

This new book will be essential reading if you plan to visit the site of this decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses,  or are just interested in seeing the historical setting in today’s geography.  Both are aspects which interest me, so Walk Wakefield 1460 has top place on my wish list.

This new book covers the campaign of the winter of 1460, from its opening skirmish at Worksop to the grisly aftermath in York, through sites connected with the battle.  Each section of the concise illustrated guide features a brief history, directions to the sites (including maps), and up-to-date information on opening times and admission charges for visiting.  The sites covered are:

Worksop Priory & Castle
Sandal Castle
Duke of York’s Monument
The Battlefield at Wakefield Green
St Mary’s Chantry Chapel
Pontefract Castle
Micklegate Bar & York City Walls

The book will be launched at Waterstones Booksellers, The Ridings Shopping Centre, Wakefield, on Saturday 19 March 2011, from 11h00 -13h00.  What a pity, this is just before my trip to the UK to attend the Blood and Roses Weekend in Oxford.  Should you be in the area though, I am sure Helen would be delighted to see you and sign a copy for you.

You can also get signed copies of both Helen’s books at the Friends of Sandal Castle Open Meeting at Sandal Castle Visitor Centre on Saturday, 26  March, when she will be speaking alongside popular author Keith Souter on ‘Sandal Castle in Fact and Fiction’.

And for all those who cannot be there, we can order this publication from YPD Books.

Watch this space for more news after the launch!

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