Today the BBC News revealed that the true site of the Battle of Bosworth, 1485, has been discovered and apparently it is about a mile to the south of where it was previously thought to be. But does this really matter? By which I mean of course it matters in a factual, pin-down-the-location sort of way, but in a less tangible sense does it really matter?
I visited Bosworth Field many years ago when I lived in Leicestershire. Except, of course, I didn't, because I was visiting a site that was a mile away from the correct one. Yet for me the experience of being at "Bosworth," the site where one of my heroes, Richard III, had been killed was one of the most powerful emotional and imaginative engagements with history that I had ever had. How many of us have visited battlefields and visualised what must have happened there in all its horror and heroism? How many of us have felt the atmosphere of a site like Bosworth make an unforgettable impression on us? I remember going to Flodden on a glorious summer day with the corn ripening in the fields and a scattering of poppies amongst the wheat and it was incredibly poignant and peaceful. And then there was Culloden, which felt eerie and cold and lonely despite the hordes of visitors sharing the experience with me.
So for me it doesn't really matter whether I was standing in the right place or a mile up the road. The Battle of Bosworth is iconic. I can experience that imaginatively even if I'm in the wrong place because the idea of Bosworth is bigger and more important than simply a site in a field. I'm glad that they have located the true site of the battlefield. Interpretation centres and battlefield trails are a great way to increase our knowledge of a site and give a fascinating insight into an event and a wider period of history. But in the end I don't feel disappointed that Bosworth has moved. For me it is more than a location, and history appeals to me because it is more than dates and places.