Friday, 13 February 2015

Moment of History

The Northampton Battlefields Society held a press conference on Thursday. After a year of research we finally have an answer on the only known artefact dug up on or near the battlefield of Northampton.

There's a bit of a tale behind this artefact. It's a cannon ball and it was found, then lost or forgotten about and then found again. Once the NBS had found out about it the ball was sent off to be dated by Dr Glenn Foard at Huddersfield University. Anyone with an interest in British battlefields should have heard of Glenn due to his ground breaking work on Naseby and Bosworth. How Huddersfield came to be a centre for battlefield archaeology I can't say, but it's a nice place.

When you take all the caveats into account it turns out that the ball was most likely fired by the Yorkists at the Battle of Northampton in 1460. That makes it the oldest cannon ball fired on a battlefield in Britain. So, based on this evidence the Battle of Northampton was the first battle in Britain where artillery was fired.

And people want to put a football pitch and a car park on it.

The BBC jumped the gun a bit and published their story a bit early, but it's worth a look. Here's the link as it is buried in the local news section, despite this being a nationally significant find: Oldest Cannon Ball Found. A fuller explanation and pictures is on the NBS blog: NBS Blog.

There are a number of important things here. First use of artillery is pretty damn important from a historical point of view, but this shouldn't make us obsess about the artefacts that can be dug up. They just show us where the battle was. The ground itself is the real artefact.

It made the local news on TV & radio, and also got 3 lines on page 17 of The Sun as well as proper coverage in the local papers and elsewhere on the net.

 So, what does it look like? Well, there are better pictures on line, but this one shows our very pleased Chairman holding it up.

Not very big, is it? However it is having a huge impact.

One of our local councillors even said the battlefield was safe. Whether we believe him or not we shall have to see. Most importantly this gives a lie to the criticism we repeatedly get that there's no archaeology on the site. That's only because we haven't looked yet.

1 comment:

  1. About time too, wouldn't you say? It seems to me that the Golf Club tried to press ahead before any evidence turned up, but they were called out.

    Regards, Chris.