HS2 and the battlefield of Edgcote
13 January 2012
HS2 and Edgcote Battlefield: a statement from the Battlefields Trust
The Battlefields Trust was very pleased to read earlier this week that the proposed HS2 route had been adjusted to avoid a number of heritage sites, including the battlefield of Edgcote. However a closer examination revealed that whilst the revised route avoids Edgcote House it appears that the railway will still destroy a significant part of the probable location of the battlefield.
The Battlefields Trust is in principle neither for or against HS2 but it believes that it is essential that the battlefield at Edgcote is recognised as an historic site of national and not purely local importance. In recent years the development of battlefield archaeology has proved that these sites can contain a wealth of valuable archaeological evidence giving us a much greater understanding of what really happened at these crucial turning points in our history. A few years ago an archaeological survey, led by the Battlefields Trust, uncovered important artefacts helping to pinpoint the exact location of the battle of Bosworth, 1485. Obviously, a similar survey is urgently required at Edgcote, and this should be an essential pre-condition to any construction work starting at the site. If possible though the Trust would prefer the route of HS2 to be diverted away from the battlefield area. Building HS2 through the centre of this site as is currently planned will almost certainly lead to the destruction of valuable archaeological evidence and quite probably the destruction and desecration of the mass grave pits which we believe to be in the area. Historians are horrified by the wilful damage carried out to important historic sites by Victorian railway builders, it would be a bitter irony indeed if, a 150 years later, we demonstrated that we have learnt nothing from the past.
Hundreds of Battlefields Trust members from all over the country have already written to the Department of Transport asking that every effort should be made to avoid damaging this important site. Anyone wanting to help in the work in defending and interpreting this and other UK battlefields is urged to join the Battlefields Trust. Full details can be found online at www.battlefieldstrust.com
The Battle of Edgcote was fought on 26 July 1469, in the midst of the Wars of the Roses. A Welsh army commanded by William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, advanced into England to support the Yorkist King, Edward IV, in dealing with a local rebellion. At Edgcote the Welsh were attacked by a rebel force loyal to Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, (better known in history books as 'Warwick the Kingmaker'). Owing to the fact that their English allies commanded by the Earl of Devon failed to support them, the Welsh suffered a disastrous defeat. History records that 168 Welsh noblemen, including Pembroke himself, and many thousands of ordinary soldiers lost their lives. The battle had important long term effects; according to many historians Welsh support for the Yorkist cause never recovered, and in 1485 the Welsh support for the Lancastrian Henry Tudor was crucial in enabling him to seize the throne.
For more information about the battle and a discussion of its location please click here www.battlefieldstrust.com/resource-centre/warsoftheroses/battleview.asp
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