Alan Crosby's blog: A moving visit to Bosworth Field

By Guest, 19 May 2016 - 5:31pm

Last week, Alan Crosby took a group of students to visit Bosworth Field in Leicestershire – site of one of the most famous (and bloodiest) battles in English history

Dr Alan Crosby is the editor of the Local Historian and a columnist for WDYTYA? MagazineThursday 19 May 2016
Alan Crosby
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Bosworth Field Leicestershire

Thousands of men were killed at Bosworth Field in August 1485 (Photo: Getty Images)

Last week I visited the Bosworth Field battlefield in Leicestershire, leading a history study tour. We talked about the Wars of the Roses and the various battles that took place there between 1455 and 1487.

It was a beautiful sunny day. We looked across the Midland plain from the hilltop nearby, and we walked down through the bluebell woods to the flat fields where the battle raged on 22 August 1485. Several of the group commented that it was impossible to believe that in such a peaceful setting there had been so much carnage and bloodshed.

It wasn’t the largest battle of the wars by any means – that dubious honour goes to Towton near York, fought during a savage blizzard in March 1461. Nobody knows for sure, but as many as 30,000 men may have been killed on that single day.

Of course, almost all of them are anonymous – only the nobility and gentry who fell at any of the battles are known by name. This was long before the start of parish registers, or any other record that names the ordinary folk in a systematic way. These men were in the retinues and private bands of great lords, and they were what would later be called “cannon fodder”. They never came home and all trace of them is now lost to the historical record.

We all found Bosworth very moving – the combination of the bright sunshine and the echoes of ancient warfare was poignant. But no less so, I felt, was the thought that these men had descendants who might include you and me.

Alan Crosby lives in Lancashire and is editor of The Local Historian. He is an honorary research fellow at Lancashire and Liverpool universities.

 

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