Will 1066 clash scupper Battle housing plans?

Battle of Hastings re-enactment at Battle Abbey. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-151210-072113001
Battle of Hastings re-enactment at Battle Abbey. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-151210-072113001
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Controversial plans for 50 new homes in Battle could hit a stumbling block as the site may be of significant historical importance.

Historians say part of the land to the west of Lillybank Farm, Wattles Wish, is the location of the famous ‘Malfosse incident’ which occurred when some of William’s horsemen fell and died while chasing English soldiers in retreat from the Battle of Hastings.

Heritage Collective, which carried out an ‘archeological desk-based assessment’ on the site on behalf of developer Milwood Designer Homes Ltd, made no mention of Malfosse in its report.

However, East Sussex County Council archaeologist Casper Johnson says that ‘potential exists’ for the area to be the Malfosse site.

In a letter to Rother District Council (RDC) planning officer Tim Hickling, Mr Johnson says many assume the incident took place on a steep-sided gill stream.

He added: “Proposed development on this site, however, is located away from the stream valleys on the northwest facing slope of agricultural land so that, to my understanding, there would be no direct physical impacts in the stream locations which could arguably be candidates for the Malfosse.

“This may be the reason it was not mentioned in the archaeological desk-based assessment submitted with the application, but perhaps the applicant could be asked to consider this issue in light of the objections.”

Mr Johnson said if planning permission is granted, a programme of archaeological work should be carried out on the site.

He added that evidence from the archaeological work ‘will contribute to our understanding of the history and archaeology of the site and by extension the wider area, including potentially for any evidence of activities associated with the Battle of Hastings’.

Stephen Bennett, a medieval military historian from Queen Mary University of London, has expressed concerns there was no mention of Malfosse in the developer’s report, while the Battlefields Trust argued it would be ‘inappropriate’ for the development to be given the go ahead without first testing whether it is the Malfosse site.

RDC will make a decision on the plans on June 30.

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