Sunday was the 549th Anniversary of the Battle of Towton. The Frei Compagnie, Towton Battlefield Society (TBS) and invited re-enactors provided an insight into both civilian and military life during The Cousins' War - The Wars of the Roses - and honoured the memory of the c28,000 who lost their lives that day in the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. In the last year TBS has had to defend the battlefield from the threat of inappropriate development and has championed the battlefield in the National media culminating in a documentary for the BBC which will be screened later this year.
On Sunday there was a brisk and bitter wind sweeping along the dale but not the blizzards endured by the combatants on the day. Even though we had sunshine rather than snow the conditions made me reflect on the ordeal of the mediaeval soldier who not only had to endure the remorseless elements, but the horror of hand to hand combat on a large scale with his fellow Englishmen. Artefacts and human remains from the archaeological investigations were on display and told the moving story of what they believe are the deaths in the battle of three brothers and their father - Shakespeare wasn't so far out when he talked of the tragedy of fathers killing sons.
In the words of George Neville, then Bishop of Exeter and brother to the Earl of Warwick: 'there was a great conflict, which began with the rising of the sun, and lasted until the tenth hour of the night, so great was the boldness of the men, who never heeded the possibility of a miserable death.'
I'm not certain about the last phrase, but the men, including Warwick who was wounded by an arrow in the leg but continued fighting, were certainly bold.