Towton, UK - Towton 25 and Battlefield Wounds
Discovered in August 1996, a unique burial site was overturned during a building project finding “remains of 43 individuals...6m x 2m and was only 50 cm in depth” (“Towton Mass Grave Project - Facilities”). The results were analyzed by multiple scientists, and it was discovered that on March 29, 1461, an extremely bloody battle at Towton field had occured. What made it so bloody was the loss of over 28,000 men. One of the men of the battle lived, but carried an ugly scar. Discovered on his skull was a big slice from the top of the skull to the upper mouth.
The Battle of Towton occured to see which family was going to rule over England. The battle occured between Henry Beaufort, leader of the Lancastrians, and King Edward IV of England, the Yorkists. The battle took place somewhere between Towton and Saxton in the middle of a snowstorm, famously on Palm Sunday, with both armies having an estimated amount of 50 to 60 thousand soldiers each.
Soldiers throughout many historic battles have received many injuries from lethal wounds to broken bones and amputated body parts. The harshness of battle can be especially seen in the skull with the large scar who was dubbed Towton 25. Estimated at the age of 36 to about 45, the soldier had fought many battles throughout his lifetime, shown from the many scars on his skull. However, on the day of the battle, he had taken “eight wounds to his head” (“Nasty, Brutish and Not That Short”). Towton 25 may have had past years of experience fighting, but it was not good enough to sustain these wounds from this battle and keep on fighting.
Throughout history, there have been all sorts of disabilities sustained by soldiers. One of the many examples of having a high chance to disable other soldiers in war are from leg injuries ranging from getting shot to explosions to any other type of accident impairing your ability to move freely and easily. Other disabilities that happened frequently could have been becoming blind or deaf. One unique disability that happened to soldiers is a condition called shellshock. The term “‘shellshock’, ‘was the blanket term applied by contemporaries to those soldiers who broke down” ("Trench Conditions") and can be linked to post-traumatic stress disorder. The main causes of obtaining this disorder can come from witnessing the havoc that goes on around them, seeing friendly soldiers being killed or majorly injured affecting others mind and personality. During the Vietnam War many soldiers' families noticed that their veterans had an altered mental state, even sometimes being adamantly unwilling to talk about what went on during the war.
One of the many things history can teach us is how we can learn from our mistakes and how to also improve from them. Soldiers go into war extremely motivated to defend what they are fighting for, but often don't think of the costs or what can happen to them. Looking back into history at every war, they all have a pattern of starting with a large number of soldiers and ending with a significant number of casualties and permanently disabled soldiers. One study discovered that “one out of every ten veterans alive today was seriously injured at some point while serving in the military” (Morin). This is just a small statistic in today’s standard; in earlier wars, it was far worse. During the American Civil War, soldiers who had been injured and could not function as well would still be forced to battle and push through their wounds. Some injuries could still be treated as soon as possible but not in a professional or clean way. Today the treatment of wounds has majorly improved with quicker and cleaner treatment.
The discovery of Towton 25 was an insight into how medieval soldiers fought against one another and what they went through. Looking at all the fractured, scarred bones showed what occurred and how the soldiers fought to survive.
Morin, Rich. “For Many Injured Veterans, A Lifetime of Consequences.” Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project, 11 Apr. 2014, www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/11/08/for-many-injured-veterans-a-lifetime-of-consequences/.
“Nasty, Brutish and Not That Short.” The Economist, 16 Dec. 2010, www.economist.com/christmas-specials/2010/12/16/nasty-brutish-and-not-that-short?story_id=17722650&fbclid=IwAR3zaf3_8ZU1Q74hHuQcoprXf0bY3l6-oE_DcOArBwHPNhU7lLn-_ITl_wU.
“Towton Mass Grave Project - Facilities.” University of Bradford, www.bradford.ac.uk/archaeological-forensic-sciences/facilities/barc/barc-projects/towton-mass-grave-project/.
“Trench Conditions - ‘Shellshock.’” Canadian War Museum, www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/life-at-the-front/trench-conditions/shellshock/.