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Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre on Ambion Hill
 
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A school group walking the battlefield trail at Bosworth Battlefield Visitor Centre
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Using a Battlefield

“Education is at the heart of battlefield walking, as each site provides opportunities for learning for all its visitors.” 
The Battlefields Trust's Education Policy

When using a battlefield with children of any age, some or all of the following aspects will be important to the work the children will undertake:

  • Why was the battle fought?
    This might include some discussion about the long term and/or immediate causes.
  • Who was involved?
    Not merely the generals and officers who took part, but also any of the ordinary soldiers and other eye witnesses to the action.
  • How many people were involved?
  • What types of troops fought?
  • What weapons were used?
  • What happened during the action?
    This will of course depend on the view point of the individual giving the account.  Timelines and comparisons of different versions of key events are useful to undertake with children.  It is also important to say what historians who have looked at all the evidence believe.
  • Where did it take place?
    A good base map with clearly laid out features and showing the position of the respective armies is vital to a good understanding of what happened during a battle, especially if a visit to the battlefield is to be undertaken. Using written battlefield descriptions of the contemporary landscape in conjunction with a map, is a powerful tool in helping children to a greater understanding of how the landscape before them relates to the battle being studied.
  • What was the immediate outcome?
    The story of a battle and its conclusion are often told in more detail by the victors. How do accounts of  the ending of the battle differ?  Is victory for one side or the other always easy to define?  Does it depend on the casualties lost or inflicted?  Is it dependent on ground gained or which side holds the field at the conclusion of  the action? How many people were killed or wounded?
  • What were the longer term consequences?
    Where does the battle fit into the wider war it is part of?  How significant an action was it? Did it resolve anything, bringing the wider war a  step nearer?  How did it affect those involved?
  • What significant events happened in the battle to interest children? (the gory bits!)
    Every battle contains unique events of great interest to children. A good example of this concerns the Battle of Edgehill where, when defending the King’s Standard, Sir Edward Verney was killed and his arm cut off by the parliamentarian soldier to take the Standard.  It is reputed that Verney appears to this day in ghostly form, searching the battlefield for his severed limb!
  • Are there any mysteries or controversies associated with the battle?
    Many battles have the potential for the children to become involved in some detective work, whereby they can assess and weigh the evidence for an event – for which the controversy continues to this day.  An example of this  relates to the battle of Chalgrove in 1643.  During the battle the famous parliamentarian commander John Hampden was mortally wounded.  His death was reputed at different times to have been caused either by Royalist fire or from the accidental exploding of his own pistol.  An attempt was made to resolve the issue in the 1820s when Hampden’s body was allegedly exhumed.  The accounts of these events are fascinating for children.
  • How do we know about the battle?
  • What was left behind after the action?
    The archaeological evidence left in the ground - the bullets, arrowheads and other equipment, not to forget the mass graves, like that excavated a few years ago at Towton. The shocking wounds suffered by some of the victims are a stark reminder of the horrors of battle.

 

   
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