When choosing where to fight the battle, Moscow prince Dmitry Donskoy was keen to secure a frontal engagement that would prevent the enemies from using their preferred tactic, an outflanking manoeuvre and an attack from the rear. At the flanks his troops were protected by the steep and overgrown forest on the banks of the Lower Dubik and Smolka streams. The commander placed his chosen mounted bodyguard of the Ambush Regiment in the Green Oak Wood, an isolated feature in the landscape.
Historians divide the field of the battle into two unequal parts. One, smaller in scale, is where the fighting between the Russian and Horde forces took place. This small area of 4-6 km², bounded to the east by the gully of the River Smolka and the Green Oak Wood, and to the west by the Lower Dubik, was the epicentre of the battle. This is where for a few hours, six centuries ago, blood was spilled and spears were broken – and now archaeologists are finding relics from the battle.
Historians now define a second area, where the combatants were ranged on the eve of the battle. The Russians made camp in the village of Monastyrshchino, while Mamai’s forces were not faraway at Krasny Hill. The route that the armies took is also important: the day before the battle Dmitry Donskoy’s troops crossed the Don at the Tatinsky Ford, while the army of the Golden Horde followed the Krasivaya Mecha River. When this is taken into account, the entire area of the battlefield is 32 km².
Visitors to Kulikovo Field can discover the epicentre of the battle using maps or with a tour guide. At the entrance to the battlefield there is a signpost with an index map to help you find your way around.
Nowadays what you see at the site of the battle is cultivated land from the middle of the 19th century. Active agricultural use of the land has led to the forest being cut down, including the Green Oak Wood. The destruction of the forest area has led toravines being filled in and the rivers Smolka and Lower Dubikbecoming more shallow. But paleo-botanical research allows us to develop a picture of how it looked in the past, and thanks tothis the historical landscape of 1380 is now being restored.
Young oak trees planted on the site of the Green Oak Wood aregaining strength from year to year. Inch by inch, staff from the Museum-Reserve are regenerating surviving parts of the feather-grass steppe and establishing other steppe plants that are rare tothe Tula district.