Whilst I was doing the research for my novel on Richard III – ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King’ I of course read up on the battles that took place during the Wars of the Roses. The battle of Towton was one of the most significant battles of ‘The Cousins’ War – they were known as this before they were labelled ‘The Wars of the Roses.’ As it is located only a half-hour’s drive from my home I knew I just had to visit the site and see it for myself. A couple of Sundays ago my husband and I fulfilled this wish – which has been on my agenda for some considerable time – we walked the Towton battlefield – it was such an incredibly interesting trek – a circular route with look-out points and picture panels full of fascinating commentary on the battle – along a beautiful undulating terrain of tranquil pastures and shallow valleys – it was hard to imagine that an estimated 28,000 men were killed here.
It is said locally that if you walk the route at night you will hear them screaming. The battle was fought in blizzard conditions on Palm Sunday and lasted for 10 hours. The 2nd photo is of the bloody meadow looking towards the boggy flood plain of Cock Beck where the Lancastrian troops tried to escape over a bridge of piled high dead bodies, only to find themselves being funnelled by the Yorkists down a steep scarp (3rd photo) where they were picked off by Edward IV’s considerably smaller army. There are still 3 large grave pits on the site – every time the fields are ploughed fragments of human remains are found. The battle site is on the very edge of Towton itself and the villagers must have been eye witnesses to the massacre. We walked the battlefield on a still sunny afternoon and were left with a sense of enormous sadness about what took place there.