The True Location of the Battle of Bosworth
Posted By Claire on August 22, 2010
There has been controversy for 25 years over the exact location of the Battle of Bosworth, the battle which saw the death of Richard III, the crowning of a new king, Henry VII, and the founding of a new dynasty, the House of Tudor. The controversy over the battle’s location was due to the conflicting information given in Medieval and Tudor records of the battle and artefacts found in the Leicestershire countryside.
Until February 2010, the three main theories were:-
- The Danny Williams/Ambion Hill Theory – Williams based his 1974 theory on the research of 18th century historians, Hutton and Nichols. Williams developed this research and concluded that Richard III’s army had gathered on the western slopes of Ambion Hill and the marsh on the southern slopes, Henry’s forces had approached from Whitemoors and the forces of Thomas and William Stanley had approached from Near Coton. The forces clashed due west of Ambion Hill, near Shenton and Richard died in this area. You can see a map of this theory at http://www.bosworthbattlefield.com/battle/archaeology/archaeology1.htm
- The Peter Foss/Redesmore Theory – This theory put forward in 1985 by Peter Foss was an attempt to match the evidence from contemporary sources with landscape evidence. Foss believed that the battle took place between Ambion, Dadlington, Stoke Golding, Upton and Shenton, in the area of low lying ground there. He believed that this area was Redesmore, the earliest recorded name for the battle site. As the dead were said to have been buried in Dadlington, Foss argued that the battle took place within its township. According to Foss, Richard’s army gathered on a ridge to the south west of Ambion Hill, Henry’s troops were on Fenn Lane and the Stanley forces were at Stoke Golding and Dadlington. He places the final battle just north of Stoke Golding, on Fenn Lane. See map at http://www.bosworthbattlefield.com/battle/archaeology/archaeology2.htm
- The Michael K Jones/Atterton Theory – This theory put forward by Michael K Jones in 2002 put Henry’s camp at Merevale, because the Crowland Chronicle recorded Henry giving compensation to Mancetter, Witherley, Atterton and Fenny Drayton for damage to crops during the battle, and Richard’s camp between Merevale and Ratcliffe Culey. Jones believed that the battle itself took place in the area south and east of Ratcliffe Culey.
The True Location of the Battle of Bosworth
However, in February 2010 Glenn Foard, the Battlefields Trust archaeologist, announced that due to a groundbreaking archaeological survey funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, evidence had been found which proved the exact location of the battlefield:-
“Using the new techniques of battlefield archaeology we have recovered evidence which proves exactly where the iconic English battle was fought. The site, never before suggested as the battlefield, straddles the Roman road known as the Fenn Lane, near Fenn lane farm. It is three kilometres south-west of Ambion Hill and a kilometre west of the site suggested by Peter Foss.
“The crucial archaeological evidence came from our systematic metal detecting survey. There may be relatively few finds from the battle, each of which has taken the team dozens of hours to locate, but several of the objects are amazing. The most important by far is the silver-gilt boar, which was Richard III’s own badge, given in large numbers to his supporters. But this one is special, because it is silver-gilt. It was almost certainly worn by a knight in King Richard’s own retinue who rode with the King to his death in his last desperate cavalry charge. It was found right next to the site of a small medieval marsh – and the King was killed when his horse became stuck in a mire.
“Other objects discovered as part of the survey include silver coins of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, a silver-gilt badge found close to where we believe the Duke of Norfolk was killed, and the largest collection of round shot ever found on a medieval battlefield in Europe. These artillery rounds, which range in size from 30mm – 94mm have redefined the importance of artillery at Bosworth and open a new, archaeological avenue of research into the origins of firepower on the battlefields of Europe.”
On the 15th April 2010, a new updated gallery full of archaeological finds from the battlefield, was officially opened by Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund at the Battlefield Heritage Centre. This gallery tells the story of how the true location of the battlefield was found and gives the public the opportunity to see evidence like the lead roundshot that was used in the battle. I visited the Battlefield Heritage Centre in July and it was wonderful to see the new gallery and artefacts from the battle, as well as enjoy the interactive exhibits. The exhibition is divided into different areas: the Road to Bosworth, Preparing for Battle, the Battle, the Surgeon, Winning the Peace, the Tudors and the BFI (Bosworth Field Investigation) research lab. It is a wonderful place to visit.
5 thoughts on “The True Location of the Battle of Bosworth”
I went on a school trip to Bosworth Field when I was about 10 (in about 1977). At the time it bored me to tears, as it probably did most 10 year old girls. But at least I could say I had been to the battle site. Then, this year, I saw the evidence to show I’d been in the wrong place all the time. There must be British school children pre 2010 who wonder why they bothered (I should point out to none Brits that Bosworth Field is THE school trip which all junior school kids go on). I would now love to go back (to the right place) and it’s on my list of things to do.
We visited on the Anniversary Weekend last weekend. It was a brilliant day out with mock battles and a 1 minute silence at 4pm to remember those who fell. The new Centre is excellent and great for all the family.
We went on a short walk up to the Memorial Sundial and this allows a brilliant view across to Fenn Lane Farm one way and the Church in the other where Richard was said to have spent the night praying before the battle.
It was extremely atmospheric stood up there and I can highly recommend it as a day out.
It is excellent that we now know where the battle took place, but a battle is hardly just in one place. Does it not make more sense that the two or three armies start off in one place and end up spread over a larger area? One silver badge does not a battle make, but a lot of shot of course do. Fen Lane is the most obvious placefor the end of the battle and marsh land was known to be all around here. I still think we will find something else in the future and all the interesting debate will go on. But for now Fen Lane is where the services began as the place where Richard fell and died. The old memorial is in the Battlefield Centre, preserved but was found at the opposite side at Shenton, but now we have two places to honour Richard. All of the churches around have memorials and have a connection; Dadlington where the dead lie, Saint James Cheney where Richard is meant to have had his last services, although it is more likely to have been in his tent the next morning; and Stoke Goulding where locals climbed into the roof to watch the battle and close to Crown Hill, the traditional spot where Henry Tudor was crowned at the end with Richard’s fallen battle crown. Lovely white roses and plaques keep his memory alive and all those who fell are recalled by the Sun dial at Ambion Hill. Everytime I viist it is a moving and exciting experience.
I have never been to England my entire life. But i would love to visit all of the historical sites of england. Because i love history!
On the Battlefield Centre Site this weekend you can enjoy a series of virtual events via Facebook and YouTube linked video and you can enjoy cooking, heralds, music, the Battle and the camps and other festival events. The Battle re enacting isn’t possible but you can see stills from previous years and socially distanced music and costumed events.