This document addresses the claims made in Nick Bridgland’s witness statement which was appended to the grounds for defence dated 30th April 2014 in my case to challenge English Heritage’s failure to designate the battle site at Fulford. The point that I seek to make is that this Witness Statement deploys objections to my work which can be shown to be wrong. Most of the reported objections were originally promoted by the other interested parties in my case who are known to oppose recognising Germany Beck as the site of the 1066 battle of Fulford. So officers of English Heritage should have checked the substance of the criticisms they levelled at my work. Instead, Dr Bridgland employs these misinformed criticisms to justify why he changed his mind about the secure location of the battlefield of Fulford.
For the sake of brevity I have not inserted the full extracts of text since all parties have access to the documents referenced (i.e.Finding Fulford and the Witness Statement). Also, for the sake of brevity, I do not revisit disputes about understanding but confine my comments to factual and academic errors.
Please note that the hash # is used to denote paragraphs in the witness statement and the numbers are page references from Finding Fulford.
#14: The Battlefields Panel were asked to ‘CONSIDER and NOTE’ (sic) the recommendation not to designate. They were not asked to agree, as is claimed in the Witness Statement. The erroneous comments provided to the Panel to justify the decision not to designate are all repeated in the Witness Statement.
Starting at #23 Dr Bridgland explains that it was the view of John Oxley, the City of York archaeologist, that made him reassess the literature. The Magnusson/Palsson(M/P) translation was the keytranslation employed for all the archaeological research of the Lottery Funded project which I led but which was directed by the late Dr Richard Hall as the instigator and primary contractor for the work to identify the location of the battle of Fulford. I was refused permission to use the extensive quotes from the M/P translation when I publishedFinding Fulford which is the only reason that the out-of-copyright Laing version was used. I attach a sheet where the two versions are compared phrase by phrase to show how little they differ in the key passage about the battle.
#25 has several minor errors which I will deal with briefly before turning to the major errors that Dr Bridgland says changed his mind:
· The claim that I did not consider differences in translation is incorrect. A section discusses the matter and its implications (see pages 52-53). For example, my exchanges with the leading scholar of Old Norse Philology at Oslo University is cited when one issued was addressed about variations in translation as a part of a decade of research.
· I note on page 49 that a number of different translation exist. The conclusionof detailed analysis we undertook, and then reported, was that the alternative translations (to the Laing version employed in Finding Fulford) ‘adds a little to the narrative of the battle’.
· I defer to Dr Bridgland as to the source of the extract on page 50 but this illustrates that different translations were indeed provided to me by Dr Hall. On page 125 (headed ‘Linking the landscape with the literature’) I write, ‘The aim must be to see if any single aspect..cannot be sensibly reconciled with the literature’ and in the 7 subsequent pages different translations are assessed. I continue ‘Because it is possible to find many places where any battle can find a “good fit”..’ to the literature I go on to explain why I am applying such a harsh test of a “near perfect fit”. The discussion explains how Germany Beck passes the test of a near perfect fit. On page 86 one can read how the work we did to investigate the 1066 land shape made ‘sense of several comments in the descriptions of the battle by Snorri and others’.
· So Dr Bridgland is wrong to claim that I ignored ‘a source that undermined my thesis’. No source was ignored. The six years that elapsed between the first announcement of an evidential basis for Germany Beck in 2004 (at the conclusion of the Lottery Funded project) and the publication of Finding Fulford in 2011 were occupied with mentoring session, experiments, further research, talks and seminars to test the hypothesis that was finally published and which was supported by a critical appraisal of all of the literature.
· The quote ascribed to me which says it is ‘not the job of a historian to homogenise’ different versions is paraphrasing the methodology of Snorri Sturluson, as the rest of the sentence makes clear (page 51). A four-page appendix follows this comment (56-59) which discusses how Snorri,who might loosely be described as the ‘Chief Justice’ of Iceland, noted the importance of accurately recording what was reported rather than synthesising a story from the different versions.
The key issue raised in #25 is the claim that other translations describe a battle ‘between’ a river and a dyke. This is simply wrong and I am not aware of any translation which uses the word ‘between’. The error derives from the interpretation provided by John Oxley in his consultation response where he is attempting to relate the literature to a different location. Dr Bridgland compounds the error by accepting that the word ‘between’ derives from a translation. It does not. It is one person’s interpretation of a translation when they are trying to show it can be applied to another location.
#29 In discussing the four key tests, Dr Bridgland says that the literature does not securely locate the topographical context in which the battle was fought. This is incorrect. There is an extensive discussion of the way multiple literary sources were tested against the landscape (125-131) but this critical analysis is not mentioned. Further, on page 73, I note that because the work was spread over a decade we were able to return and probe the landscape to check alternative interpretations as part of the battlefield research project. The employment of Leeds University power auger was an example of how the need to confirm the existence of a firm base at the ford prompted further investigations.(pages76, 121-123)
#30 In noting the two assumptions which Dr Bridgland suggest underpin the support lent to securely locating the battle to Germany Beck by the IMP hypothesis, he says they are ‘not entirely safe’. However reference to page 116 headed ‘What did the vegetation look like?’ would address the issue of woodland cover which he claims was not considered. The second ‘assumption’ is dealt with on page 126 where the possibility of a landing from ships is discussed (and further explored on p 220). The evidence and argument offered in Finding Fulford address both assumptions raised by Dr Bridgland and so make itsafe so support the IMP hypothesis which figures more prominently in the various advice reports produced by English Heritage than it does in Finding Fulford where I note the hypothesis is good for testing rather than finding battlesites. Furthermore, there is no mention of the discussion on pages 197-198 of the remarkable way Burne’sIMP hypothesis was tested at Fulford with senior serving military officers.
#31 Extends Dr Bridgland’s criticism that I did not address if the landscape was wooded (see above and page 116), he also fails to note the three interpretations for the charcoal-finds offered on pages 80-82. Suggesting, as Dr Bridgland does, that we accept for a moment that the charcoal is related to the nearby metal recycling, then he says it disproves the location since it would have been wooded (and therefore by implicationunsuited to a battle). This tautology can be exposed by referring to the data provided on pages 117-120 where the extensive hedges that existed at the time of the battle are documented. The role these played in the battle is discussed (page 119,120,213) as is the source of hedgerow wood for charcoal where I cited some innovative PhD research(page 242-243).
#32 The matter of a ship-borne landing at Fulford is raised again. It is discussed on page 126 and was not ignored as Dr Bridgland again suggests. Dr Bridgland is also misquoting Gaimer and fails to understand the sequence it is outlining. It says Harald stopped at ‘St Wilfrid’s’ and in the morning sailed on to York. The battle is then noted as taking place on the following day, not on the morning he sailed to York. One could perhaps argue that Harald landed at Fulford the evening before the battle but there is so much scholarship to say that the Norse landing was at Riccall that a landing on the eve of the battle at York (or Fulford) which the misreading of Gaimer is claimed to suggest, can be confidently discounted.
#33The evidence available to Dr Bridgland should have showed the many ambiguities he invokes, could all have been clarified or contradicted. The effect is that what he has told the Court in his Witness Statement is wrong. So claiming an entitlement to decide not to designate the battlesite based on false ‘ambiguities’ renders the conclusion invalid. Failure to give me access to the challengeable arguments he deploys until this witness statement was provided, has denied me the chance to correct these mistakes before.
#35 I accept that I did not publish all of the research for the sites that were rejected in Finding Fulford .There simply was not room to publish everything in the final report.
· However on page 142 the areas surveyed by metal detectorists are mapped and these show the work went well beyond Germany Beck. Under the heading ‘Quality control’ (144-145) it is explained how,late in the project, areas were selected for us by independent archaeologists to provide a comparison with Germany Beck.
· Chapter 2 of Finding Fulford reports the extensive area that was researched using soil cores and on page 93, the final sentence of chapter 3notes that only after this work was completed did work focus on Germany Beck.
· In the ‘Summary of findings’ (page 4) I note that while some of the data is provided in the report, there is ‘a shed full of cores, thousands of artefacts, and four files with notes and data sheets which are available for those who would like to extend the research’.
Dr Bridgland should have taken up the offer to inspect the research if he was in any doubt after studying Finding Fulfordor simply talked to me rather than making the erroneous statement that alternative sites were not archaeologically investigated.
#35 The speculation of ‘Howden Dyke’ as a possible location only ‘fits’ the misinterpreted version of the literature (see above #25). As noted on page 217, I explain that all the published sites were identified. ‘All of these, along with some of their variants, were assessed.’ The possibility of the dike as a location was being promoted by Paula Ware who is the archaeologists who worked on behalf of the developers, Persimmon, and who signed their consultation response to oppose the designation of the site. Even though it was not a ‘published’ site, Howden Dyke was investigated by augering and with reference to mapping and using a range of landscape-archaeology techniques. I felt it was disrespectful to report that site which was such complete nonsense as a possible location for the battle so I chose not to report it in the list of alternatives since it did not qualify as a properly published site. I once again note that it is only the erroneous introduction of ideas that the battle was fought on land between a river and a dyke that allows Dr Bridgland to include this as an example. It is not, as he claims, indicative of a defective investigation. It is indicative of him giving credence to claims and proposals by those known to oppose the designation of the site without checking their claim against the evidence made available to him.
#36 While Dr Bridglandnotes he has not carried out a comparative research on other possible sites, such research was at the core of the published methodology (p 239-241) and a study of all the alternative has been discussed above. I even note when the project was defined it was recognised that ‘several interpretations’ will be possible. The conclusion I published after extensive checking and peer review was that only one site was feasible and the unique site had also provided physical finds consistent with the interpretation of Germany Beck as the location of the battle.He is wrong to promote ambiguity and uncertainty, rather than addressing the evidence that has been published which answer his concerns and confirms beyond any sensible doubt that Germany Beck is the location of the 1066 battle.
Dr Bridgland’s witness statement to the Court appends the minutes of the designation review meeting.
In 2.3 of the minutes of the Review body, it asks members to relate their opinions based on the papers prepared for they by designation team officers, three of whom were present at the review meeting. I have repeatedly requested either the text or a report of these meetings using FOI or EIR provisions: However they have not been provided. If the information was as poorly researched and misinformed as the witness statement discussed here, there can be no surprise that the review body decided that there were no grounds to conduct a review. I will reapply for these briefing papers to be disclosed.
Finally, the key point within the defence document claims because the ‘general location’ of the battle had not been securely located so there was no need to draw a boundary. Such sophistry that claims without a general location for the battle, detailed boundaries are impossible to draw is defied by numerous EH statements from 2003 onwards which note Germany Beck as the location of the battle.
29 September 2014
Comparing translations:The Magnusson/Palsson version was indeed the primary version used by Dr Richard Hall to guide the landscape research and was doubtless why he put me in touch with Prof Palsson. I used the Laing version as Penguin would not grant me free copyright. In this particular section the Laing version is more coherent militarily but both fit Germany Beck well when all the text is considered.
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The author of the content is Charles Jones - firstname.lastname@example.org Last updated April 2015
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