More Than Just a Field

The state of Britain’s historic battlefields often compares poorly with that of other countries. Things are changing, says Julian Humphrys. 

Community theatre: the Globe on Tour production of Henry VI performed at the site of Towton battlefieldThe assistant in the tourist information centre seemed surprised that I wanted to visit his local battlefield. ‘There’s nothing to see, it’s just a field’, he said. It was hardly a promising start to my career as development officer of the Battlefields Trust, the UK charity dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Britain’s battlefields. Fortunately, in the three years since, I have found that while this view persists in some quarters there does now seem to be a greater recognition that the nation’s sites of conflict are much more than ‘just fields’. Take Historic Scotland’s introduction to its new inventory of battlefields:

Historic battlefields make a distinctive contribution to our sense of place and history, both locally and nationally. They are a superb resource for education, helping us understand why significant events in our history unfolded as they did ... The ground on which the battles were fought has enormous potential for attracting tourists, as well as for general recreation, allowing visitors to experience the site of a dramatic historical event for themselves and imagine the past.

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