‘Burial pits’ containing the remains of thousands of soldiers are believed to have been found in a historic battlefield west of York.

Amateur archaeologist Tony Hunt used drones equipped with thermal cameras on the battlefield at Marston Moor.

There, on July 2 1644, was the largest battle of the Civil War, when up to 5,000 men, mainly Royalists, perished in the battle between Parliamentarian Oliver Cromwell and Royalists led by Prince Rupert.

After Prince Rupert’s forces were routed, the Parliamentarians clashed with Whitecoats, the household unit of the Earl of Manchester.

York Press: The site from the airThe site from the air (Image: Pic supplied)

The day 4,000 men died outside York – recalling Marston Moor, England's largest battle on its 375th anniversary

Tony said: “Despite being hopelessly outnumbered the Whitecoats stood their ground, refused to surrender and died there to a man. Their collapse triggered a wholesale rout leaving the Parliamentarians the victors.

York Press: Toby HuntToby Hunt (Image: Pic supplied)

“It is stated that 4,000 royalists died, with only a few hundred from the Allied army. Cromwell was considered to have personally carried the victory.”

He continued: “The field where the Whitecoats stood and died was called White Sikes Close, and it has been marked on maps as such ever since. This is also where the common soldiers were buried in great open pits, left to lie together as they had fallen together.

“Today White Sike Close no longer exists: the field boundaries visible on maps150 years ago are long gone.”

Tony says drone footage shows long grubbed out boundaries of the close and more importantly, clearly reveals in the middle of the field, three great shapes that are certainly not natural, suggesting they could be burial pits.

He told the Press: “We have these shapes showing up on the thermal imagery and the infra red. There have been changes in the chemistry of the ground. That changes the growth patterns of plans, showing human intervention.”

Visiting the site of the Battle of Marston Moor

Tony, who runs Yorkshire Archaelogical Aerial Mapping, says an ‘appropriate and respectful’ investigation is needed to confirm such findings.

He also said: “We should look at preserving the site because it has 5,000 lads buried there. We know they were dead, they weren’t taken somewhere, though some rich families sent people to the site and brought the bodies to York Minster, Bilton-in-Ainsty church or their own family graveyards for burial.”

The findings follow Tony’s other revelation of a suspected ‘henge’ or neolithic earthen temple at nearby Kirk Hammerton, as reported by the York Press earlier this year.

Groups plan Kirk Hammerton dig in bid to discover 'henge'

Further investigations of the site will be made with Jon Kenny, who runs the Greater York Community Archaeology Project. There will also be another meeting with village residents about a prospective ‘dig.’

Tony added talks are underway with Leeds East Airport at Church Fenton to similarly use drones to investigate the site of the Battle of Towton, near Tadcaster, where on March 29 1461, during the ‘War of the Roses’ was England’s bloodiest battle and 28,000 reportedly died.