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The ‘Fornham Sword’ found in 1876 
(courtesy of Moyse’s Hall Museum and St Edmundsbury Heritage Service)
 
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The ‘Fornham Sword’ found in 1876 (copyright and courtesy of Moyse’s Hall Museum and St Edmundsbury Heritage Service)
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Archaeology of the battle

There has been no systematic investigation of the battlefield, but some artefacts have been dug up over the centuries, the most recent being a sword (the second found on the field) which emerged in 2017 during the dredging of a pond on the Fornham Golf Course. The first sword, discovered in 1876, now resides in the Moyses Hall museum in Bury St Edmunds, along with a mediaeval spearhead and dagger discovered in 1873. The more recently discovered sword is on display in the All Saints Hotel on the golf course.

In 1811 a labourer found a plain gold ring containing a red ruby. Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1845 “which fond dilettantism can believe may have been the very ring Countess Leicester threw away in her flight”.  Sadly, the ring is now lost.  Coins from the period have also been discovered, along with human remains scattered along the route of the river.  Most importantly, in 1827 the Gentleman’s Magazine recorded a discovery near the old church of Fornham St Genevieve. “A curious discovery was made a few days ago at Fornham St Genevieve, men…. felling a pollard ash near the church…., standing upon a hillock….. discovered a large quantity of fragments of skeletons, lying in a circle with the head inwards, and piled tier upon tier, from the depth of about 4 feet, being probably the remains of several hundred bodies.”  Later accounts reduce the number of bodies to “not less than 40”, but this is almost certainly a battle related mass burial. In 1840 a local historian recorded “Several of the skulls exhibited evident marks of violence as if they had been pierced with arrows or cleft with a sword.”  There is no current record of the precise location of this find, nor of what was done with the remains discovered.

 

 

   
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