The Archaeology of English Battlefields: Conflict in the pre-industrial landscape

by Glenn Foard and Richard Morris

RR168 Cover Warfare looms large in the history of every nation – every country has its Battle of Hastings or Waterloo – yet it is surprisingly difficult to identify battle sites in the landscape. Battlefield archaeology is one of the newest areas of archaeological investigation, originating in work at the Little Bighorn (USA) in 1984. Here we see the results of using these methods in the UK, including at iconic sites such as Bosworth and Towton.

This volume presents the results of the first national assessment of English battlefields. The primary written sources are complemented by the results of extensive fieldwork, computer-based terrain reconstruction, and scientific analysis of artefacts recovered from battlefields, allowing the sites of several notable battles to be located firmly for the first time.

Battlefield archaeology rests heavily on the recording of metal artefact scatters across the landscape, and the book explores the most effective way of recovering this material. The authors’ proposed methodology for investigating battlefield locations is validated by the recent identification of the precise location of the Battle of Bosworth, some 3km from the traditional site. Experiments on ordnance recovered from battlefields are enhancing our understanding of the development of gunpowder weapons.

The evidence for battles from prehistory to the mid fifteenth century is summarised and is followed by detailed descriptions of battles from the Wars of the Roses, as well as notable conflicts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The book concludes with some suggestions for the future management of these important sites.

Key points

  1. First national assessment of battlefield sites in England
  2. Description of collection methodology for metal artefacts
  3. Details of research project on the origins of firepower
  4. Detailed case studies of key battle sites
  5. Recommendations for management of battlefield sites
  6. Methods applicable to battlefields of all periods, in all countries

About the authors

Glenn Foard is Reader in Battlefield Archaeology at the University of Huddersfield; he has carried out extensive research on battles and sieges of the medieval and early modern period. He is archaeological adviser to the Battlefields Trust and a member of the English Heritage Battlefields’ Panel.

Richard Morris OBE is Professor of Conflict and Culture at the University of Huddersfield and a member of various heritage advisory bodies including the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the HLF. Formerly Director of the Institute for Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds, Richard has written extensively on a variety of subjects, including the history of conflict.


This book will appeal to a wide readership, from heritage professionals concerned with the management of battlefield sites to military historians to anybody with an interest in the history of conflict. It will be essential reading for students of conflict archaeology, military history and archaeological methods. For fieldworkers it provides the first detailed methodology for the collection of material.

Info: CBA Research Report 168, ISBN: 978-1-902771-88-5
216pp, 130 illus full colour, May 2012, Price £25 GBP
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Glenn Foard

Richard Morris

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