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  The Battle

Mortimerís Cross is a difficult battle to interpret because it is so poorly documented. The general location of the action is fixed from the naming of the battle, which places it at or near to Mortimerís Cross, described more generally in one source as near Wigmore, a substantial settlement which lies four miles to the north. The contemporary sources provided little more than this. The single reference to the numbers of troops involved is highly suspect, while none provide significant topographical evidence to allow us to define exactly where the action took place.

One can therefore only guess at the form of the initial deployments and the character of the action. However, it is possible to make more informed suggestions as to where the armies deployed and the direction in which the action flowed, based on the evidence as to where the forces were in the preceding weeks and days, and thus their likely direction of approach to the battlefield. The constraints imposed by the terrain further refine the area to one of little more than a square mile within which the battle is likely to have taken place. This is low lying and very flat land on the alluviated valley floor of the river Lugg. It is bounded by the river on the north east; on the south and south west by the Pinsley Brook and formerly by Shobden marsh; and on the north west by the high ground, rising increasingly steeply onto Shobden and Mere Hills. In the 15th century on the south east, the narrowing gap between river and brook will have been at least partially closed by the hedged enclosures of the settlement of West Town and Kingsland, while on the west and north the rising ground may already have been a landscape of hedged enclosures. The road pattern in 1461 will also have been a critical factor determining the exact location of the action, as both armies will undoubtedly have followed major routes through this hilly and in places marshy landscape. Prior to the creation of the turnpikes in the 18th century, there were two major routes through the battlefield. One, the Roman road known as the Hereford Lane, led south towards Hereford and north, via the cutting through the hills provided by the narrow valley of the river Lugg, towards Shrewsbury and Montgomery. From the west the options were extremely restricted by the increasingly high hills as one moves into Wales. The major east-west route in 1461 was probably that still in use in 1675, running from London to Aberystwyth, via Leominster and Worcester in the east and Presteigne in the west.

 

   
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