York archaeologist challenges refusal to register Germany Beck as site of battle
A HIGH Court fight has broken out over the location of the Battle of Fulford.
Archaeologist Charles "Chas" Jones is challenging a refusal by English Heritage to register Germany Beck on York's outskirts as the site of the 1066 battle.
He argues that Germany Beck, where Persimmon Homes wants to build 650 homes in the face of huge local opposition, is the most probable site.
English Heritage refused in November 2012 to designate the Fulford site on an official Battlefield Register, concluding that even though it was "probable" it was the battlefield site, the evidence was "insufficiently conclusive" to "securely identify" it for registration.
Ian Dove QC, for Mr Jones, argued at London's High Court yesterday that the decision could not stand because the decision makers failed to apply the correct "location" test.
That involved consideration of whether there was evidence that a battle had occurred in a particular location "with a fair degree of probability".
The QC told Mr Justice Lindblom the test was contained in the Battlefield Designation Selection Guide: the only up-to-date statement of English Heritage's designation policy.
Referring to English Heritage, he said: "If they did not apply the 'fair degree of probability' test to the question of location then unarguably they erred in law in the decision they reached."
But Emma Dring, for English Heritage, argued it would be contrary to the aims of the Battlefield Register to designate sites "in the absence of a high degree of confidence that the correct location has been securely identified".
Designation of "unsecure sites" could damage the credibility of the register as a whole, she said.
Consequences for landowners, particularly their ability to develop land if a battlefield site was designated, also pointed to there having to be a relatively high standard that the correct location was identified.
She said English Heritage had concluded that the general location of the Battle of Fulford had not been securely identified.
That made it unnecessary to apply the secondary test and decide, on the basis of a fair degree of probability, the specific topographical location of the battlefield area.
The judge reserved judgment, saying he would take time to consider his decision.
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