Battle of Northampton site studied

War of the Roses enactment Delapre Park, the estate around the abbey, was the site of a decisive battle in the War of the Roses

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Work is under way to explore the site of a decisive battle in the Wars of the Roses.

The Battle of Northampton, fought in the grounds of the town's Delapre Abbey on 10 July 1460 led to the Yorkist Edward lV gaining the throne and the downfall of the House of Lancaster led by King Henry Vl.

A Yorkist army of about 15,000 led by the "Kingmaker" Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and the 18-year-old Edward, then known as the Earl of March, assaulted between 7,000 and 10,000 Lancastrians in a fortified camp.

Now the area has been designated for the development of sports fields and the borough council has commissioned a survey of the battlefield site.

Wars of the Roses

Picture of King Richard III being killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August, 1485
  • In 1453, King Henry VI had a mental breakdown and Richard, Duke of York, was made protector
  • The king recovered in 1455, but civil war broke out between the Yorkist and Lancastrian factions. The ensuing struggle came to be known as the Wars of the Roses
  • The period was seen as a time of enormous moral, military and political turmoil in Britain
  • The death of Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 effectively ended the Wars of the Roses

Source: BBC History

Interested campaigners, such as the Battlefields Trust and the Medieval Siege Society, are hoping evidence will emerge that can help improve their knowledge of the time.

'Extensive property'

Mike Ingram, of the Battlefield Trust, said: "The precise site of the Lancastrian camp is unknown, and several theories as to where it was have been put forward.

"Only a full archaeological survey, such as the one carried out at Bosworth, will determine its exact location.

"Much of what has been written in the past about the battle has been dominated by the defection to the Yorkists of Lord Grey of Ruthin, who also had extensive property within the county.

"However, the battle and the events leading up to it, are much more involved and far more interesting."

Only the records of contemporary writers are now available but a survey could shed light on what happened and where. It is also likely some evidence of defence systems from that time and unknown artefacts could be unearthed.

The borough council's archaeological contractor LUC are to report early findings in the late autumn.

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