Yes, we take them for granted, barely giving them a second glance as we whizz along in our motor cars. Grazing cows, bleating sheep and a few areas of ploughed earth constrained by overgrown hedges. They’re just fields. We may catch a glimpse of a footpath sign even a farmhouse or too and that’s it. Forgotten. Ignored. Neglected. But as good historians should we not be asking ourselves, why? Why are those fields there?
Miles of golden sand fringe the Wirral Peninsula where it meets the Irish Sea. For the unwary, there are treacherous mud banks and unexpectedly deep channels. The Dee estuary embraces three small islands – Hilbre, Middle Eye and Little Eye all with their own place in history.
Where is the Egremont Bloomery? In Egremont – on the Wirral bank of the River Mersey, sandwiched between New Brighton and Leasowe. Not the one in Cumbria!
What is a bloomery?
A bloomery is the earliest form of iron smelter. It produces a porous mass of iron and slag called a bloom which is consolidated and further forged into wrought iron.
This forgotten battle is regarded by most historians as the event that created the English nation; but where is took place has been lost for centuries. There have been many attempts to locate the battlefield, but these have been based on trying to interpret a few clues and information taken from manuscripts written sometimes hundreds of years later. None of them have been able to firmly place the symbol of crossed swords on a map to show where the battle was.
n 1938 the remains of a clinker-built boat were unearthed by workmen digging the foundations of the new Railway pub in Meols. It was described as “an ancient ship built in the Nordic clinker (overlapping planks) style buried twelve feet down and covered in a layer of blue clay”. As they were on a tight schedule to get the new pub open, the workmen were told to keep quiet and cover it up.
Over a period of many years, we have researched the suspected Roman road network of the Wirral peninsula, as time and other projects have allowed. There is clear evidence of at least two roads, one running directly from Chester to Meols, and the other aligned on a point close to Bidston village. Modern development has obliterated some of the alignment of these roads, but enough remains to plot their courses.