- Old Fold Manor golf club wants to turn Battle of Barnet site into landfill tip
- Scene of important clash between Houses of York and Lancaster
- Historians say it would be ‘act of wickedness’ to bury centuries-old artefacts
- Golf club say the move will allow them to re-landscape several greens
17:01 EST, 22 October 2013
02:36 EST, 23 October 2013
They came at each other out of the fog – opposing armies in a battle that would change the history of England.
This was one of the most important clashes in the Wars of the Roses, fought between the Houses of York and Lancaster on a site some 12 miles north of London.
In a few hours of fighting, the Battle of Barnet helped reshape the monarchy and decide a dynastic conflict.
Old Ford Manor Golf Club wants to turn part of its course, which is the scene of the 1471 Battle of Barnet, into an industrial landfill site
The site is where ‘kingmaker’ Earl of Warwick (played by James Frain in BBC’s White Queen) was killed
Warwick (seen here in the period drama) was killed on the battlefield, which led to a change in monarch
That was back in the 15th century. Yesterday two sides in a new conflict were mustering forces for a fight over land on which the original battle, immortalised by Shakespeare in Henry VI, is said to have taken place.
Squaring up in one corner is Old Fold Manor golf club, which sits on the 1471 battlefield – and wants to dump thousands of tons of rubbish on it.
A proposal agreed at its annual general meeting would see it become a landfill site to allow the re-landscaping of several greens.
On the opposing side are the forces of heritage and preservation, determined that one of the nation’s most historic battlefield sites must not be wiped out.
One historian said it would be ‘an act of wickedness’ to bury centuries-old artefacts and the prospect of historically important finds, particularly when experts believe the site has exciting new secrets to reveal.
Dr Gillan Greer from Barnet Museum said it would ‘absolutely criminal’ to destroy potential evidence about handgun use at the battle
Historian Graham Bird said the move would ‘completely destroy the archaeology of the site’
Researchers had just sought permission
for a dig to determine the exact location of the fighting.
the Battle of Barnet – and not the 1485 Battle of Bosworth, as is
currently thought – saw the first use of handguns in a major British
If so, and if archaeologists can uncover evidence, it would give Barnet an even more notable place in history.
Dr Gillian Gear, historian and archivist at Barnet Museum, said: ‘It would be absolutely criminal to destroy the evidence.’
Now historians are banding together to save the site for future generations, ‘rather than being annihilated to make a fast buck’, as one put it.
Yesterday I was shown the swathe of land on which Edward IV is said to have led his Yorkist forces against the Lancastrian armies, which backed Henry VI.
Back then, the clash of swords and the rallying calls of knights sounded a death knell for more than 1,500 soldiers.
Soon, if approval is granted, the drone of diggers will form the soundtrack as the historic site is turned into a quagmire of mud and rubbish.
Historian Dennis Bird, 65, says he often imagines the battle unfolding in the early hours of April 14, 1471.
former teacher, whose home overlooks an obelisk marking where defeated
‘kingmaker’ Earl of Warwick was slain, said: ‘It will completely destroy
the archaeology of the site.’
He points out a row of oak, ash, hawthorn and hornbeam trees where a hedge was purportedly used as cover by the Lancastrians.
Historians say it would be ‘an act of wickedness’ to bury centuries-old artefacts at the scene of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick’s death (pictured)
We cross an expanse of green upon which fighting is likely to have taken place. It is now the seventh tee, thought to be one of those earmarked for landfill.
The 125-acre site is owned by the London Borough of Barnet and leased to the golf club, which is seeking permission to develop part of its 6,500-yard course.
The club has not made specific proposals public yet. Manager Adrian Jackson added: ‘We have to ensure we have the best design and playing surface around.’