Considering the strength of the average Yorkshire Tyke's sense of identity, it's interesting how many battles have taken place across the county. I remember being taken to Marston Moor (1644) when I was still at primary school - actually because my father was campaigning at the time for Parliament to be moved there from Westminster (it's a nice open space close to York and a move would still be an excellent plan). A street in east Leeds called Penda's Way recalls the elusive battle of Winwaedsfield (655), whose supposed site shifts about wildly depending on archaeology's latest metal-detecting extravaganza. Wherever it took place, it was hugely influential in Britain's progress from paganism to Christianity. The Northumbrians beat the Mercians ten-nil. Yo!
Another great local battle always fascinates my mother, ever since she was told as a child that the Cock beck on the outskirts of Leeds, towards Tadcaster, flowed red with blood for days afterwards. This probably was the case, since the Roses battle of Towton (1461) was the bloodiest ever fought on British soil. Some 26,000 men died (but the Yorkists won, so that was all right). We've also got Stamford Bridge (1066) and a sea battle off Flamborough Head (1779) which I've written about in the Guardian many times because divers are always trying to find the main ship involved - the Bonhomme Richard, whose commander Paul Jones was the buccaneering first 'admiral' of the American rebel fleet which won the engagement. Even more embarrassing for the Royal Navy than HMS Astute's recent problems off Skye. Yorkshire Battlefields by Ivan Broadhead (Robert Hale 1989) has been a trusty friend.