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  Deployment

Our discussion of the campaign has shown that two main alternative approaches to the battlefield are possible, resulting in two alternative sites for the initial deployments. Because the evidence is so tenuous, both alternatives must be explored, considering the historic terrain and road network, together with the reports of artefacts from the battle and the tenuous evidence of local tradition.

THE NORTHERN SITE

From the mid 19th century onwards interpretations of the battle have focussed on a location at or immediately south of  Mortimerís Cross itself. This is first given by Flavell (1852) and on the 1st edition 6Ē mapping of the 1880s.

However in 1915 H T Evans turned the action through 90 degrees to focus on the east west turnpike road (A4362) at Mortimerís Cross itself. He has the Yorkists facing west, with their backs to the river, and the Lancastrians descending the steep slope from the west to engage. This was followed by Green, Haigh and Smurthwaite. Evanís interpretation focuses on the east Ėwest road and has the Yorkists facing west with their backs to the river Lugg, with the Lancastrians advancing along what is now the A4362. But as Hodges has shown, the ground is too narrow here and such a deployment ignores all the principles laid down in the early military manuals. This is a very improbable deployment for the Yorkists, while a descent of such a steep slope on the west seems too difficult for a Lancastrian advance. Moreover it is based on the idea that the east-west road was the one along which the Lancastrian army advance, yet this was not a major road until the 18th century when the turnpikes were established. However it is likely that the east west road and bridge over the Lugg did already exist in the 15th century, though not as a major road, for in 1675 Ogilby shows a route from Easthampton towards Lucton.

In what is now the standard interpretation, presented by Hodges, a site immediately to the south of Mortimerís Cross is given. The problems with the Evans interpretation led Hodges to return to the north/south deployment of the mid 19th century presented by Favell Edmunds. He has the Yorkists marching south from Shrewsbury via Wigmore to Mortimerís Cross, where they meet the Lancastrian army which has turned north along the Hereford Lane to engage them. This gives a battle focussed on the Roman road, the Hereford Lane, just to the south of where it enters the narrow gap in the hills alongside the river Lugg at Mortimerís Cross. This location corresponds well with the naming of the battle as Mortimerís Cross and is based on the deployment that was presented in the mid 19th century by Flavell. In this hypothesis the Battle Oak and Mantle Cottage would lie at the centre of the action, whereas the traditional site of the battle, as marked by the monument on the edge of Kingsland, where the finds and the traditional burial site were reported in the 19th century, are considered to relate to the rout of the Lancastrian forces.

In this interpretation Edward is said to have chosen the ground where the narrow defile of the Lugg valley opens out into the plain at Mortimerís Cross. Edward is claimed to have used the slopes on the west, possibly then wooded, and the river on his east to protect his flanks. It is argued that the Blue Mantle Cottage (actually Blue Mantle Hall, according to the late 18th century records of the turnpike) and the Battle Oak marked the site of the battle. The other traditions and archaeological discoveries reported by antiquaries close to Kingsland are then said to relate to the rout and Ďexecutioní of the fleeing Lancastrian forces at the end of the battle.

Various of the accounts, including those by Hodges and by Haigh provide elaborate description of the deployment, but in reality the original sources remain silent on such matters. While Barrett, Edmunds and Hodges all show the typical medieval pattern of three battle arrays, one behind the other, Smurthwaite and Haigh show the three deployed side by side. All descriptions of both the deployments and the action should be considered largely speculation based on local tradition and the elaboration of later sources, such as Drayton who claims Ormond led the vanguard with the unarmoured Irish troops.

THE SOUTHERN SITE

A very different interpretation of the battlefield is presented by Brooke in 1856, on the edge of Kingsland. In this case the Yorkist army is considered to have approached from the south east, probably along the former London to Aberystwyth road, to meet the Lancastrian army marching east along the same road. A return to this southern, traditional site of the battle is supported by an analysis of the road system based on the Ogilby Itinerary of 1675. This shows that the major road from Aberystwyth to London, before the turnpikes were constructed, ran on a route now wholly abandoned, but still partly in use when the Ordnance Surveyorsí Drawings were made in circa 1820. This route traverses the plain a long way to the south of Mortimerís Cross to enter Kingsland close to the Pedestal monument, erected in 1799. This area is where Brooke recorded local information on probable battle related finds and a mound which, according to tradition, represented a burial site. In this same area lies Battle Acre Cottage. The battlefield itself was perhaps a relatively small area of open field land where the Lancastrian forces marched out of an enclosed landscape on the west. This interpretation can still accommodate the Blue Mantle Cottage and Battle Tree traditions, as well as the naming of the battle as Mortimerís Cross, by the fact that the routed Lancastrian army will have been driven back in this direction. Although too much credence should not be given to local traditions, it is reported by Hodges that Lancastrians are said to have been pursued through Mortimerís Cross to the north west to Kynsham.

 

   
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