True site of Richard III battlefield found

LONDON (Reuters) - Archaeologists said on Friday they had finally found the true location of one of England’s most important battles and possibly the very spot where the island’s last Medieval king was slain.

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For centuries, enthusiasts have trudged to the top of a remote hill in Leicestershire, central England, believing it be the site of the Battle of Bosworth where King Richard III was defeated by Henry Tudor’s superior forces in 1485.

The battle ended decades of civil war, known as the War of the Roses, severed the Plantagenet line and ushered in the Tudor dynasty and the reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.

But experts say they are now certain that site was as fanciful as Richard’s famous battlefield dying words immortalised by Shakespeare: “A horse! a horse! My kingdom for a horse!”

Instead, an exhaustive four-year study by a group of historians and archaeologists say the battle raged two miles (kilometres) away from the celebrated Ambion Hill, in a farmer’s field.

The archaeologist who led the search for the true battlefield, Glenn Foard, said several artefacts that point to the site’s authenticity were found at the location.

“They show us that people of the very highest status were fighting here,” he told BBC radio.

They include silver coins of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and the largest collection of round shot ever found on a medieval battlefield in Europe.

But he said the most important, and perhaps conclusive, object unearthed is a distinctive badge in the shape of a boar given in large numbers to Richard III’s entourage.

“This one is special, because it is silver-gilt. It was almost certainly worn by a knight in King Richard’s own retinue who rode with the king to his death in his last desperate cavalry charge,” he said in a statement.

“It was found right next to the site of a small Medieval marsh -- where the King was killed when his horse became stuck in a mire.”

Foard said the badge, which is extremely rare, could mark the spot close to where the king fell.

“There’s a small boggy area that is called Fenn Hole and that badge sat just to one side of it,” he told BBC radio.

Editing by Steve Addison