Researchers believe they have discovered the oldest surviving cannonball used in English warfare.
The cannonball was actually discovered several years ago by Northampton resident Stuart Allwork and was only found in his house last year following his death.
Its significance was not realized until protests over plans to put sports fields on the battlefield site sparked demands for an archaeological survey, according to the BBC.
A study of the missile has led experts to the belief that artillery was used for the first time in conflict in England at the Northampton battle, fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, according to the media outlet.
The ball has been analyzed by medieval artillery expert Glenn Foard, who said the object suffered massive impact damage from at least two bounces and may have struck a tree.
It is not clear which side fired the cannonball, but some contemporary accounts suggest the Lancastrian guns failed to fire because of the rain – which means it most likely came from a Yorkist cannon.
A Yorkist army of about 15,000 led by the Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, and the 18-year-old Edward, then known as the Earl of March, assaulted between 7,000 and 10,000 Lancastrians in a fortified camp.
In the early afternoon of July 10, 1460, the Yorkist forces advanced on the Lancastrians. While they were hindered by a hard rain blowing that blew toward them, the conditions also rendered Lancastrian cannon useless.
As Warwick reached the Lancastrian left flank, Lancastrian Lord Ralph Grey had his men lay down their weapons and allow the Yorkists easy access into the camp beyond.
Grey had informed Edward that he would change sides if the Yorkists would back him in a property dispute with another English lord.
Following this, the battle was over within 30 minutes.
Soon afterward the Duke of York returned to England and, in October 1460, was bestowed the right of succession by Henry VI in an Act of Settlement. However, Queen Margaret refused to accept an agreement that disinherited her son and the civil war continued.
Edward was crowned king in 1461 and ruled until he was overthrown in 1470. He regained his throne in 1471 and reigned until his death in 1483.
The War of the Roses would continue until 1487, two years after Yorkist Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field by Lancastrian Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII, ushering in the Tudor Dynasty.
Mike Ingram, chairman of the Northampton Battlefield Society, said the recently discovered cannonball is believed to be the oldest surviving in England.
“It confirms the battle as one of the earliest in England where cannons can be shown to have been used,” he said.
(HT: A Blog About History.)