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Tiltyard where Henry VIII was thrown from his horse during his final joust in 1536 is discovered by archaeologists on the site of Greenwich PalaceHenry VIII was toppled from his steed during a joust at Greenwich Palace
He was unconscious for two hours and the 44-year-old king never jousted again
Researchers used ground-penetrating radar on the modern-day site
Found evidence of the tiltyard further east than it was previously believed to be
By JOE PINKSTONE FOR MAILONLINE
30 October 2020
The precise location of King Henry VIII's last ever joust has finally been found by archaeologists.
In 1536, a 44-year-old Henry fell from his horse while jousting at Greenwich Palace, leaving the monarch seriously injured and unconscious for two hours.
It was to be the last time the avid horse-rider would ever partake in his favourite pastime.
Following his fall, he became the cantankerous tyrant history remembers, blaming his wife Anne Boleyn for the loss of their unborn son and sentencing her to death.
The palace was destroyed during the reign of Charles II and the plot is now home to the National Maritime Museum.
Experts used ground-penetrating radar on the site and believe they have found the tiltyard's exact location, around 100 metres further east than previously thought.
The tiltyard complex was accented by two impressive octagonal towers and these appeared on the radar survey.
The octagonal pillars were found in the grounds of the National Maritime Museum with radar. They are 100 metres further east than previously thought. Pictured, key findings of the study with the pillars circled in red
The tiltyard where Henry VIII fell from his horse, circled, was made of central octagonal pillars which archaeologists spotted with ground-penetrating radar
As he entered middle age, Henry VIII, who was once famed for his physical appearance and athletic prowess ,piled on weight as his health deteriorated. The infamous 1536 jousting accident saw him fall from his horse, with his armoured steed then crushing him. He was unconscious for two hours
The site of what used to be Greenwich Palace is now home to the Queen's House and the National Maritime Museum. No remains of the Tudor palace exist above ground but radar can detect the old foundations
By the time of the accident Henry's health was already failing, plagued by leg ulcers, migraines from a 1524 jousting incident and repeated bouts of malaria.
As he entered middle age, the monarch, once famed for his physical appearance and athletic prowess, piled on weight as his physical condition worsened.
The infamous 1536 accident saw Henry toppled from his horse, with the armoured steed landing on top of the ruler. He was out cold for two hours, according to court records of the time.
Henry was desperate for a male heir and Anne Boleyn, his wife, was pregnant at the time of the accident.
As he lay motionless, she was informed he would probably succumb to his injuries. The stress, it is said, triggered a miscarriage of her unborn son.
When Henry came round he saw this as an omen his union would never be blessed with a male child and, just six months later, Anne Boleyn was beheaded.
Researchers agree his injuries were likely severe and it is possible he suffered bleeding of the brain leading to a change in personality as a result of the accident.
In the next 11 years of his life he burned through four other wives and became increasingly hot-tempered and unpredictable.
The ground-penetrating radar sends signals into the turf and records what they encounter to paint a picture of what lies under the dirt. Pictured, the results of the survey. The octagonal pillars of the tiltyard are seen at the bottom of the image
In 2017, archaeologists uncovered some of the remains of the riverside palace where King Henry VIII (left) was born. Greenwich Palace, otherwise known as The Palace of Placentia, was also the birthplace of his daughters Mary and Elizabeth I (right)
University of Greenwich researchers used ground-penetrating radar to find the precise location of the jousting arena under the grounds of the Old Royal Naval College in South London
A 2017 piece of research uncovered some of the Greenwich Palace and experts outlined where certain aspects of the palace likely were.
Historical records reveal Henry VIII was born at this home of the Royal Family as it was a favoured location of his father, Henry VII.
Henry VIII loved the waterfront location as it allowed him to be near his fleet of ships in the nearby docks and allowed for easy transport via the Thames.
He ploughed money into the palace, building stables, forges, a new banqueting hall, and armouries to make suits of mail.
He also built a large tiltyard to allow him to partake and host his own jousting competitions, made with iconic octagonal pillars.
In its description of Greenwich Palace, Historic England says: 'The Tudor Palace represents a unique royal establishment where history was made: the birth and marriage place of kings and queens, the site of the royal armoury, and the first permanent tiltyard in England which was the scene of tournaments designed to delight and amaze the spectator.
'It is a site of exceptional interest of both national and international significance.'
After falling into disrepair during the Civil War it was eventually demolished and replaced with the beginnings of a new palace by Charles II.