Landscape record MYO4465 - BATTLE OF FULFORD 1066

Summary

The Battle of Fulford or Battle of Fulford Gate on 20 September 1066 was fought by a force led by Harald Hardrada of Norway against the English Earls Morcar and Edwin in the first of three battles in 1066 which played an important part in deciding the course of Harold Godwinson's campaign to remain on the throne of England. Harald Hardrada met with Earl Tosti at sea and led an invasion force of ships which sailed up the Humber, then up the Ouse to a landing place, which has been variously described; in some sources it is specified as Riccall. The forces then met on land in a battle in which the Norwegians had the victory. This reverse was followed by the English victory at Stamford Bridge (59538), in which ships were also involved and possibly also destroyed (1584379), and the Battle of Hastings (414516), involving a force landed from Normandy against Harold's forces, weary after their enforced march from Stamford, which led to a crushing defeat.

Location

Grid reference Centred SE 6133 4886 (20m by 20m)
Map sheet SE64NW
Civil Parish Fulford, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire

Map

Type and Period (1)

Full Description

NMR Information:

*GIS location based on NMR Information; exact location of battlefield unsure.

Primary Sources:

According to the variant versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the Battle of Fulford 1066 is described as follows:

Manuscript C of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

' . . . Harold, king of Norway, came by surprise north into the Tyne with a very large naval force - no small one: it could be [?] or more. And Earl Tosti came to him with all those he had mustered, just as they had agreed beforehand, and they both went with all the fleet up the Ouse towards York.*Then King Harold in the south was informed when he disembarked that Harold, king of Norway, and Earl Tosti were come ashore near York . . . before Harold could get there Earl Edwin and Earl Morcar assembled from their earldom as large a force as they could muster, and fought against the invaders and caused them heavy casualties, and many of the English host were killed and drowned and put to flight, and the Norwegians remained masters of the field. And this fight was on the eve of St. Matthew the Apostle, and that was a Wednesday.' (8)

* footnoted: 'Florence says they landed at Riccall. Gaimar says they left their ships at 'St. Wilfrid's.'

Manuscript D of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, closely followed by Manuscript E:

' . . . [Earl Tosti] went to Scotland with twelve small vessels, and there Harold, king of Norway, met him with three hundred ships, and Tosti submitted to him and became his vassal; and they both went up the Humber until they reached York. And there Earl Edwin and Morcar his brother fought against them; but the Norwegians had the victory.' (8)

Secondary Sources:

Battle of Fulford, also known as Fulford Gate AD 1066.

Called the 'third' battle of that year, alongside Hastings and Stamford Bridge.

Following the landing of Harald Hardrada and Tostig at Riccall, circa 9 miles to the south of York , shortly before the 20th September 1066, Earls Morcar and Edwin gathered their own inexperienced forces and opposed the Norwegians' advance on York at Fulford. There was no time to await the arrival of King Harold with the main Saxon force from the South. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Version C states that that the armies met on the left bank of the Ouse on the 20th October. The battle was long and bloody, the Saxons causing heavy Norwegian losses early on, before succumbing to the weight of the Viking attack. The Saxons were defeated and fled across the Ouse, many drowning in the flight, although both the earls survived. The Norwegians entered York taking several hostages. The Norwegian victory was short-lived, the Saxon Army from the South surprising them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, which was fought only 5 days after the Battle of Fulford. (1-2)

Website devoted to finding the battlefield site (3)

Fulford has been subject to extensive archaeological investigation and metal-detecting survey which is said to yield evidence for early metalworking at a short-term forge, which may be evidence for the battle. Germany Beck is the favoured site for the location of the battle, work by Chas Jones using documentary and historic landscape investigation and other techniques conclude that this is the only possible location.

Alternative sites to the favoured Germany Beck location are: The Fosse, The Ings, Naburn, Middlethorpe, Tillmire, Waterfulford Ings, Walmgate, St Oswald's Road. (4,5)

Additional reference. (6)

'In September the Norwegians sailed up the Ouse to Riccal, where they left their ships and advanced on York.' (7)

1 The death of Anglo-Saxon England 194 N J Higham
2 Harold : the last Anglo-Saxon King 155-8 Ian W Walker
3 World Wide Web page http://www.battleoffulford.org.uk/
4 Finding Fulford - the search for the first battle of 1066: the report on the work to find the site of the battle of Fulford Charles Jones
5 The Archaeology of English Battlefields - Conflict in the pre-industrial landscape 57 CBA research report 168 Glenn Foard and Richard Morris
6 English Battlefields: 500 Battlefields that Shaped English History 154 Rayner, Michael
7 The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, Volume I, 660-1649 32 N A M Rodger
8 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 140-143 translated and collated by Anne Savage

Sources/Archives (0)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Apr 10 2020 9:41AM

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