WE know, from a freak of meteorology, that there appeared to be three suns in the sky that morning in February 1461, when the Yorkist future Edward IV eventually routed the Lancastrian army.
The optical illusion known as a parhelion phenomenon was described by Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 3 – but few other details of the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, near the Welsh border, have survived
“Nobody has ever done any archaeological work. We don’t even know exactly where it was fought,” said Dr Glenn Foard, a leading battlefield archaeologist based at Huddersfield University, who is embarking on an investigation into a little-understood episode in the Wars of the Roses.
Dr Foard, whose achievements include the discovery of the location of the 1485 Battle of Bosworth, will assemble a volunteer team and lead a metal detecting survey on the presumed site of the Mortimer’s Cross battle in Hererfordshire.
He said: “There is a traditional site for the battle, marked on modern maps close to the A4110 between Kingsland and the village named Mortimer’s Cross, six miles to the north west of Leominster.
“So we know roughly where it was but not exactly where in the landscape it was fought, and it’s not on the historic battlefields register.
“It’s one of those lesser but influential battles that has passed people by.
“Quite a few medieval battles are like that.”
He said the smaller scale of the search area at Mortimer’s Cross, compared to that at Bosworth, might increase the chance of pinpointing the battle site.
But the fact that smaller forces were involved might also mean that fewer fragments of artillery and other artefacts are there to be detected.
The search is part of a three-year project that has attracted £84,000 in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.