Thursday, 22 August 2013

This Day in History - Battle of Bosworth 22nd August 1485

It was this day in history that the Henry Tudor defeated Richard III in the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses. With the recent discovery of Richard's body at Greyfriars in Leicester, plus the screening of the BBC television series 'The White Queen', has raised considerable interest in this time period.

Following on from our visit earlier this year (click here) my brother and myself decided to once again to travel the fifty odd miles and spend a couple of nights in Leicester to explore the city at our leisure and to attend the anniversary re-enactment (I usually get some funny looks/reactions whenever I tell people where I go for my holidays).

On the Sunday we visited Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre for their 528th anniversary re-enactment. Once there we had the opportunity to attend the unofficial launch of the book "Bosworth 1485 A Battlefield Rediscovered" by Dr. Foard & Prof. Anne Curry. It's a fascinating read, finally revealing the location to the site that had been lost for hundreds of years. Also the authors convincingly argue that far less combatants were involved than is normally mentioned (the authors using different methods; Curry using the financial accounts and Foard using landscape archaeology to reach their conclusions). There are lots more fascinating insights but you'll have to buy the book to find out.
As the visitor centre was due to be refurbished Leicestershire County Council with Lottery funding understandably wanted to know exactly where the battle took place. The relevant experts were given three years to find the precise site of the battlefield after numerous locations had been proposed. The main purpose of the book records the results of this search.
In the talk, two years and fifty one weeks into the search Foard honestly admitted that he had given up hope of ever finding the site as no real evidence had been found. In what sounds like the plot from a thriller with just one week left he authorised one final use of metal detectors to check a field on the very outer edge of the possible locations. A small lead shot, just 30mm diameter and undoubtedly from a medieval weapon, saved the day. Given extra funding, and just as importantly time, the team went on to find over thirty pieces of various sized shot along with various other pieces of contemporary military providence.
View from Ambion Hill looking toward Fenn Lanes Farm - site of the conclusion of the battle of Bosworth.
One of the many reasons people had been looking in the wrong place was mainly due from the misreading of historical maps which is discussed in detail in the book. Even though the site had been noted during numerous occasions, including a skirmish during the English Civil War, the location itself was eventually lost. It turns out all previous thoughts were wrong, historians Hutton, Nichols, Jones, Wright, Burne, Williams all misplaced the site with only Foss (1998) getting near. The site is actually on the old Roman road (on the particular stretch called Fenn Lanes) between Leicester and Mancetter, located west of Dadlington and north-west Stoke Golding.
The location of a long gone marshy area that was pivotal to the battle had also proved problematic but a local farmer mentioned to the team that his tractor had previously become bogged down for three days in a certain field. Further testing confirmed this was the site of the medieval marsh. This was where the high status silver boar livery badge was discovered and probably the site where Richard III died in his attempt to charge Henry Tudor to ground. The vicinity is on private land but there are numerous public paths through the area. A visit to the Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre is highly recommended to give you a good idea of the background, plus how and why it happened and where. 

All of this has motivated me to get underway with my own long delayed Wars of the Roses period figures (side by side with two other projects). A Dudley Council historian has given my a far clearer idea of how to proceed with painting the (unknown) livery of Lord Dudley and his retinue which should then enable me to finally publish my eight part posting for this fascinating character.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Soviet 76mm infantry gun M1943 & Crew, Plastic Soldier Company

This is the second model taken from the 28mm plastic '45mm Anti Tank Gun' set from the Plastic Soldier Company (PSC), the other can be seen (here) . This model depicts the 76mm infantry M1943 which used the same carriage.

There will eventually be a online video showing how this base was made detailing in particular the tree roots. This will be on Ade's own website (Wargaming for fun) and on YouTube (Wargaming For Fun).
Ade does a great job of editing his videos which actually takes a substantial amount of time. This video will have a new voice-over as the original involved a fair amount of industrial language as it doesn't show the bit where I managed to superglue my fingers to the acrylic base, or the important bit (i.e. making the actual tree roots) when I didn't realise the camera battery had run out.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

This Day in History - Battle of Evesham 4th August 1265 (almost)

My attempt at posting remotely was obviously a dismay failure. This post was supposed to be published yesterday but when I tried to check via my mobile it was clear that it didn't work. I couldn't even access my dashboard with my mobile to publish it that way. Anyways, pretend this is Sunday morning and you still don't know who the new Doctor will be. There was a thunderstorm before the battle just like there been throughout the midlands over the last few days.
This is the first in a (hopefully) regular series of posts highlighting various events that took place on 'This Day in history' but adding my own personal slant. My brother and myself have visited hundreds, if not thousands, of historical sites, buildings, castles and battlefields etc. across the world over the years (followers of my recent Twitter feeds will probably have better indication of the number of places we visit).

We recently visited Evesham where one of the main forefathers of modern parliamentary democracy, Simon de Montfort, was killed in battle. Clicking on the following links will take you to sites that will give a far better accounts of the battle and the life of de Montfort himself than I ever can:

Simon de Montfort Society

wiki - Battle of Evesham

Battlefields Trust & Battlefields Trust

The battle took place a mile north of the town centre and is now easily accessible thanks to the hard work of the Simon de Montfort Society and kindly allowed by the landowners. If you do visit, please stick to the proper pathway as it passes through and around fields of barley and fruit trees, which is all still private land.
The path isn't marked that well from the east. We parked on the nearby Tesco's carpark and walked past FS Marble & Granite Ltd (if you're using a new fangled Satnav the post code is WR11 4RA). The path starts down the side of  Ivy Cottage which is just behind the factory.

View from South-west looking north-east towards Green Hill. Simon de Montfort charged uphill from the right towards Prince Edward's army on the left of this image.

Charging along this ridge de Montfort would have seen, from left to right Roger de Mortimer, Prince Edward and Earl Gilbert de Clare deploying into battle along Green Hill in the background.
Information panel in the area know as Battle Well.
Battle Well looking west, generally thought to have been were Simon de Montfort was cut down and butchered. With the lost of their leader de Montfort's forces were quickly broken then pursued to the east and south. The remains of de Montfort were gathered and buried in the nearby abbey.
As per usual I like to crowbar a reference to Dudley in my posts which is quite easy with this one. Roger de Somery, Baron of Dudley was probably present but not actually fighting. He had been captured, along with the king Henry III, earlier in the year at the Battle of Lewis and was released soon afterwards.

One of my many side projects involves painting numerous figures depicting the knights from this period along with those involved in the Anglo-Welsh wars, including of course the knights and soldiers from Dudley and the surrounding areas. The heraldry from this time lends itself very well to colourful and attractive looking figures but more of this at a later date.