Battlefield Archaeology and New Methods for the Identification, Understanding and Conservation of Historic Fields of Conflict
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Huddersfield
Unit of AssessmentHistory
Summary Impact TypeCultural
Research Subject Area(s)
Engineering: Geomatic Engineering
History and Archaeology: Archaeology
Summary of the impact
University of Huddersfield research into new interdisciplinary methods
for systematic archaeological examination has led to significant advances
in the identification and subsequent conservation of historic
battlefields. The work has influenced policy and practice at English
Heritage, informing key changes in its National Heritage Protection Plan,
and has been used to help safeguard famous sites such as Bosworth and
Hastings. It has also shaped policy in other countries — including Belgium
— where it has been described as "the basis for the development of a
governmental vision" regarding battlefield sites — and has raised wider
public awareness of battlefield archaeology through high-profile media
Battlefields have a major archaeological dimension, with their
investigation an essential tool both for understanding the events that
occurred on them and for the framing of conservation management strategies
to ensure their future survival. Research completed at Huddersfield has
pioneered an interdisciplinary methodology for systematic archaeological
examination of battlefields.
Dr Glenn Foard (Reader in Battlefield Archaeology, University of
Huddersfield, 2010-present; previously County Archaeologist,
Northamptonshire County Council, 1995-2002, and Archaeological Consultant,
2002-2010) led this work in studies on major battlefields in the UK and
Europe. Foard extended approaches first developed in the US to tackle the
more complex problems and deeper history of warfare in Europe.
In his work at Naseby, Northamptonshire, Foard was the first to apply the
methods of the English landscape school — interdisciplinary study
incorporating history, archaeology and geography, as conceived by renowned
landscape historian WG Hoskins — to reconstruct battlefield terrain as a
context within which to understand documented action. Moreover, at Grafton
Regis, Northamptonshire, Foard extended this methodology to the first
systematic archaeological metal-detecting survey of a European field of
conflict and first use of a geographic information system (GIS) to
integrate evidence of battle archaeology with terrain and action. At
Edgehill, Warwickshire, Foard undertook Europe's first battlefield-wide
systematic archaeological survey with GIS and a Global Positioning System
(GPS) integrated to enable fully digital recording and analysis.
Building on these methodological advances , an interdisciplinary team
led by Foard went on to locate England's most famous lost battlefield at
Bosworth, Leicestershire. This involved the first-ever full systematic
survey of a 15th-century battlefield [2, 3]. Although begun in 2004, the
final stages of fieldwork, the understanding and analysis, and writing up,
were undertaken at Huddersfield, where the methodology is now being
extended and disseminated . This includes an AHRC-funded CDA with
English Heritage on 17th-century siege sites; undertaking exemplar
battlefield surveys in Flanders; and work at Hastings to identify the
archaeological signature of 11th-century battles.
The work at Bosworth also uncovered the first large-scale physical
evidence of gunpowder weapons' use on Europe's medieval battlefields [3,
5]. Bosworth yielded 34 "round shot" — solid projectiles fired from
artillery — a total exceeding that so far amassed during the
archaeological survey of all other battlefields of the period.
Experimentation in collaboration with Cranfield University has confirmed
firing evidence, identified on the surface of lead rounds, can indicate
the type and construction of the guns which fired them. This suggests
battlefield archaeology might be able to chart, chronologically and
geographically, the replacement on the battlefield of breech with muzzle
loading and wrought-iron with cast-bronze and cast-iron guns.
Interdisciplinary research to further this line of investigation is now
under way. Supported by a British Academy grant, Foard has studied the
internal ballistic properties of surviving 15th-century guns across
Europe. Since neutrons (unlike X-rays) penetrate lead, non-destructive
experiments to determine interior structure of battlefield projectiles,
many of composite construction, have been undertaken with grants to
University of Huddersfield, after peer review, of neutron beamtime (grant
equivalent of c. £111,000) at Switzerland's Paul Scherrer Institute and
France's Institut Laue-Langevin.
References to the research
1. Foard, G, and Morris, R (2012): The Archaeology of English
Battlefields, York, Council for British Archaeology (In REF 2);
evidence of value: EH agreed to fund this publication after peer review;
Council for British Archaeology agreed to publish; review in British
Archaeology: `this excellent book... marks a coming-of-age for battlefield
archaeology in England'
2. Foard, G (2012): The Battlefield Archaeology of the English Civil
War, Archaeopress (In REF 2)
3. Foard, G, and Curry, A (2013): Bosworth 1485: A Battlefield
Rediscovered, Oxford, Oxbow (In REF 2); evidence of value: Oxbow
agreed to fund publication; peer reviewed.
1. Awarded to G.Foard, University of Huddersfield (Principal
Investigator) & Dr S.Walton (Co-Investigator); 'Origins of Firepower:
Characterising Europe's earliest surviving small field artillery and hand
guns'; British Academy; 1/7/2010 - 30/6/2012; £7,300
2. Overall grant (€60,000) awarded to Ename Expertisecentrum voor
Erfgoedontsluiting vzw, Hoge Mote, De Biesestraat 2, 9600 Ronse, Belgium
(lead organisation), of which €19,690 sub-contracted to G.Foard,
University of Huddersfield (Co-investigator) to lead and write up the
field investigation; Oudenaarde Battlefield Survey; Flanders Heritage
Agency; 14/6/2011 - 30/09/2012.
3. Awarded to G.Foard, University of Huddersfield; `Hastings Battlefield
Project'; EHEH; 3/6/2011 - 1/12/2012; £5,000
4. Overall grant to Ename Expertisecentrum voor Erfgoedontsluiting vzw,
Hoge Mote, De Biesestraat 2, 9600 Ronse, Belgium (lead organisation), of
which €15,325 sub-contracted to G.Foard, University of Huddersfield
(Co-investigator); `Lafelt Battlefield Survey'; Flanders Heritage Agency;
01/04/2013 - 31/12/2013
5. Awarded to G. Foard, University of Huddersfield (lead supervisor);
AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award for `Establishing a methodology to
unlock the archaeology of attack on siege sites: a case study from 17th
Century England'; 0/1/2012 - 29/09/2016; AHRC £54,250 & English
Details of the impact
Studies at Huddersfield pioneered interdisciplinary methods for the
systematic examination of historic battlefields, augmenting researchers'
capacity to resolve longstanding questions of military history. They also
revealed archaeology's value in identifying threats to battlefield
survival, allowing design and targeting of conservation management
strategies or recording action on major UK and European battlefields.
The Head of the Strategic Planning and Management Division at English
Heritage (EH) has acknowledged that Foard's work has "had an impact on
professional practice", noting: "Managers and curators have a better feel
for how to target work and resources and how to identify those areas that
have greater significance than others. It is therefore easier to identify
the degrees of harm identified in the National Planning Policy Framework."
[a] An example of this, locating Bosworth enabled EH to revise the
registered boundary and, with Leicestershire County Council (LCC),
commission a Conservation Management Plan — a UK first [b, c].
In 2010, at Huddersfield, Foard completed the first detailed assessment
of risks to England's battlefields. This EH-commissioned study employed
understanding from the research to assess threats and conservation needs
at Stamford Bridge, Northallerton, Boroughbridge, Towton, Adwalton Moor,
Halidon Hill and Newburn Ford. Foard's report now guides their management,
shaping decisions by EH, local authorities and the Battlefields Trust.
Action includes the revision of Adwalton Moor's registered boundary,
conservation management at Towton and initiatives by the Battlefields
Trust on threats at Newburn [d].
In 2011, following recommendations in the 2010 report and the draft of
Foard & Morris 2012, for the first time EH allocated £127,000 in the
National Heritage Protection Plan for work on historic battlefields over
four years and prioritised a review of all Battlefield Register boundaries
[e]. Moreover, Foard's Edgcote assessment, for the Battlefields Trust, was
instrumental in 2013 in EH registration of that battlefield, securing
modification of the HS2 route to minimise impact on the site and ensuring
appropriate archaeological investigation prior to construction.
At Hastings in 2011-2013 EH funded the extension of the survey
methodology to 11th century evidence and assessment of EH's
conservation management of the site. This revealed major contamination by
re-enactment and other public events, resulting in guidance of
international relevance regarding use of historic battlefields, leading EH
to reconsider practice at Hastings.
In 2013 Foard's research into modern agriculture's damaging effects on
metal artefacts in the topsoil led EH to apply one of its AHRC
Collaborative Partnership awards to establish the scale and nature of
these impacts, to guide mitigation measures through agri-environment
Foard's work has also influenced conservation policy in Belgium. In
2011-2012 Flanders Heritage Agency allocated €60,000 for an exemplar
survey at Oudenaarde led by Foard. In 2013, for the Agency, Foard
collaborated in studying Lafelt battlefield. The Head of Department of
Heritage Research and Protection has described the collaboration with
Foard as "vital to the Flemish Heritage Agency", with the Oudenaarde and
Lafelt reports providing "the basis for the development of a governmental
vision and policy regarding Flemish battlefield sites older than WWI" [f].
Foard also advised the archaeological service in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany,
on survey of the threatened Lutzen (1632) battlefield.
The research, through high-profile media attention, raised public
awareness of battlefield archaeology and showed how evidence can be
explored using modern scientific methods. Leicestershire's Assistant
Director, Communities and Welfare, has noted that the Bosworth Project
"changed the way the site is interpreted and communicated to the public"
and "together with the new exhibition at Bosworth, improved visitor
figures" — from 38,380 in 2008/2009, before site discovery, to 43,420 in
2010/2011, after discovery, and projected to reach 57,000 in 2013/2014
(based on first six months at 34,427) after dissemination of the research
[g]. The Head of EH's Strategic Planning and Management Division has
stated: "Foard's work at Bosworth, predictably, attracted considerable
public attention, generating real national cultural impact, and has helped
to reinforce the importance of protecting these places for the wider
A Time Team Special: The Wars of the Roses focused on the Bosworth
investigation and attracted 1.6m viewers when first screened in 2011 [h].
In addition, in 2013 the Bosworth success led Videotext Communications to
commission Foard to direct new fieldwork at Hastings for the 1066 Time
Team Special. Also in 2013, media coverage led to high-profile talks at
Chalke Valley History Festival; a Royal Armouries VIP event at the Tower
of London; and, funded by the National Parks Service, at the Fields of
Conflict Conference, Columbia, USA. It also persuaded the Battlefields
Trust to collaborate with Foard in seeking HLF project funding to advance
understanding, conservation, interpretation and public access for all
sites of the Wars of the Roses.
Sources to corroborate the impact
a. Head of Strategic Planning and Management Division, English Heritage.
(Impact on the work of English Heritage and the wider Historic Environment
sector in England).
b. Bosworth Conservation Management Plan, LCC. Available on request.
Bosworth Field Project.
c. Conservation Management Plan for the site of Northampton Battlefield,
Northampton Borough Council. Available on request.
d. Foard, G (2010): High-Risk Battlefields Management Strategy: Yorkshire
& the Humber & North East Regions. For English Heritage. Available
on request. Commissioning resulted from success of our battlefields
research. Report now informs conservation management action on the seven
e. EH National Heritage Protection Plan 4E1
Influenced by the assessment of Battlefields at Risk and the draft of
Foard & Morris 2012.
f. Head of Department of Heritage Research and Protection, Flanders
Heritage Agency. Impact of battlefield surveys at Oudenaarde and Lafelt on
Flemish government heritage policy.
g. Assistant Director, Communities and Wellbeing, Leicestershire County
Council. Bosworth Field Project.
h. Time Team Special: The Wars of the Roses (first broadcast March 16
2011, 8.00pm, Channel 4)