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Author Topic: The Battle of Hastings  (Read 1644 times)
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Man of Kent1
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« on: March 22, 2012, 18:39:46 PM »

I visited the Battle site in the summer of 1966, en-route to Hastings.  My wife and I had a picnic at the bottom of the hill, 'Senlac Hill' I think it was known as.
Militarily the site made a lot of sense to me from Harold's point of view, but why William should put himself in such a disadvantageous position at the outset is puzzling.
Anybody got further thoughts on this?
(Regret, no photos have survived from my trip that day!)
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Icare9
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 12:53:51 PM »

I'm no expert, just having retired locally I take an interest in the history of the area.

Just summing up what appears to be the known "facts" of 1066 is that Harold was elected as King on 6th January (Feast of Epiphany).
William appears to have believed he had a valid claim to the throne, possibly from the story of the oath sworn on hidden relics when Harold was his "guest" by force or free will during Williams campaign against the Bretons somewhat earlier.

Harold appears to have had a long term mistress (Edith Swan neck) but then appears to have married another similar named woman, reputedly the widow of the Welsh king. She was pregnant with twins at the time of the Battle of Hastings (then known as Senlac).

During 1066, William, crying "Foul" apparently obtained the support of the Pope, a Papal banner and a Papal Bull excommunicating Harold and his supporters against William. This was serious stuff.

During the summer/autumn (prime "campaigning times once the harvest was in) Harold had his "army" based on the Isle of Wight, with ships patrolling the Channel to thwart any invasion fleet. Basing his army on the IoW doesn't seem too practical as any movements towards a threatened landing would require the fleet to assist, rather than being available to repel the invaders. Be that as it may, Harold had large land ownings all through Sussex, so the greater part of his army would be from his lands, Wessex and other adjacent southern counties.

Then his younger brother Tostig, together with another invader also believing he had a valid claim to the throne, Harald Hadrada landed near York, defeated the Mercians who then called for help from Harold. He promptly upped sticks and force marched north, arriving before the Vikings expected any major Saxon forces, resulting in an overwhelming defeat, losing what seems to be about 90 percent of their men.

During this time, the Norman fleet set sail, but were disrupted by an autumn storm which also dispersed the Saxon fleet. Whether the fleet had not been paid and thus decamped isn't clear, but William crossed the Channel and landed around Pevensey. From what I can gather, in 1066 the area was much more tidal and the fleet looks to have used many of the creeks and inlets to unload all around the Ash Bourne near to Boreham Bridge (nowadays dry, but must have been close to a water course at that time).

From there, William hastily erected three prefabricated forts, one presumably at Pevensey on or near the Roman ruins, which would have protected his western flank, and another possibly at Hastings, to defend the eastern flank. That leaves one unaccounted for yet there is a hill known as Standard Hill, where William is reputed to have flown his standard before moving to meet Harold. Having protected two sides of a triangle, it seems logical to me that such a prominent hill as Standard Hill would have been also fortified, but that's just my surmise.

Harold, having learned of the Norman landings immediately force marched back down to Sussex, pausing in London to send out for reinforcements to replace his Stamford Bridge losses. These seem mainly to have been from Essex and much of Kent. The route I would have expected Harold to take would have been more southerly, towards Arundel and his main family base around Bosham, but if he had already denuded that area of fighting men, he would need to link up with fresh troops and those from Kent could better meet at Tunbridge Wells, From there a southerly march along what is now the A21 seems to have been used, decamping them at Senlac Hill which is one of the commanding heights in the area.

William thus lost the "high ground" of his choosing, and moved to face Harold who was resting his troops.
The rest is history, but unusually the battle went on for close to 10 hours, so it must have been close to twilight before it ended.

Harolds body was identified by his wife/mistress and given for burial to William Malet and buried secretly, apparently to avoid it being a shrine.
Various theories abound, but to my mind the most logical place would have been in Battle Abbey itself, as the Norman victory would preclude it being used as a Saxon shrine, plus William would have been secure in the knowledge that it would be impossible to recover.

Alternatively, a very large skeleton was said to have been uncovered at Hastings Castle apparently dating to Saxon times. That would fulfill the other aspect of Harolds reputed resting place, "overlooking the sea" yet still be secure in a Norman held fortress.

Anyway, that's just my take on things 1,000 years ago, so what do I know!!!

All I can say is that I cannot believe that Battle Abbey would have been constructed on such unfavourable ground except for the fact that is was unequivocally the battle site. Perhaps it did stretch back to Telham or Crowhurst for various parts of either army, as apparently there were some 7,000 men or more on each side. It's a good talking point so i hope others will join in and add their thoughts!
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John
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« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2012, 13:08:25 PM »

Alternatively, a very large skeleton was said to have been uncovered at Hastings Castle apparently dating to Saxon times. That would fulfill the other aspect of Harolds reputed resting place, "overlooking the sea" yet still be secure in a Norman held fortress.

A newspaper cutting (transcribed) on the 7' skeleton here..
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MichaelBully
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 22:24:45 PM »


I have just been directed to this link about 'The Battle of Hastings-the movie'.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1018103/

But a further search declared that in 2008 three  'Battle of Hastings' movies were going to be made!

Wonder what had happened to them ?!

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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2013, 22:47:42 PM »

Somehow, I just couldn't see Mark Lester playing Harold!  As for the rest of the cast, the producers were really scraping the barrel.  Straight to dvd, I think.
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Icare9
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« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2013, 23:37:17 PM »

A very involved subject...
Battle Abbey has its claim to fame being the insistence of Duke William that the High Altar of an Abbey be built on the spot where Harold died.....
When William returned some 4 years after the battle he was furious that the monks had started building at a more convenient site and had them resite to where it stands today...
Yet the naysayers argue that no trace of the battle or its debris, both human and material has been found to justify a site where some 8,000 to 10,000 men fought and died during one of the longest battles recorded in post Roman ages.
Good arguments have been put forward for the battle to have actually been fought at locations which better fit the descriptions given by some contemporary and later accounts.
Given that Harold had marched rapidly from defeating the Vikings at Stamford Bridge (no, not in a football match) he would have only had a cadre of his total force with him at first, so it stands to reason that the site he chose would have been high ground at a "choke point" aimed at trapping the bulk of the Norman forces in the peninsular between the coast and Battle (the area was much more tidal with tides reaching far inland to Boreham Bridge on the west and almost to Crowhurst in the east.

After battle had been joined, it would be logical for both sides to have reinforcements as more contingents arrived from the north and other Norman forces from the surrounding area where they had been ravaging and plundering.

During the battle, the Normans were not making much progress as the Saxon shield wall was on the crest and mounted charges were losing momentum by charging uphill. The Saxons did not have many archers, as the feared English yew longbow was a later development and was mainly used in hunting rather than fighting. The Normans however, did have crossbows and it seems more likely that they had a constant attrition on the Saxon wall, even if only inflicting wounds to legs arms etc.

At one point the Norman forces looked to be retreating in panic when it was thought that William had been unhorsed, but he took off his helmet to rally his forces and was able to slaughter a contingent of Saxons (including one of Harolds brothers) that had broken ranks and pelted downhill only to be surrounded and gradually cut down. Perhaps Caldbec Hill is so named after the men Harold tried to "call back"....

The loss of this part of the shield wall would have the effect of thinning the ranks and shortening the line, so it is possible that the Saxons fell back to a more northerly but more defensible hill and the battle resumed. It could be that now the cross bow men were able to work closer to the Saxon wall and cause greater casualties, including perhaps Harold with a facial wound.

This is the crux, as a wounded king might be removed from the actual shield wall to a relatively safer place while his wound(s) were treated. It is this place that could fulfill the requirement to be the place where Harold was killed, yet still allow for the battlefield itself to be elsewhere (no, not on the alignment of the link road).

The origin of the placename could actually come from the practice of having an army form into at least three segments, a centre where most of the key figures would be and two wings to prevent envelopment. These came to be called "battels" or Battles.

.... or that's just my opinion as a new comer!
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Man of Kent1
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« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2013, 08:11:31 AM »

Good reasoning, Icare9!  The victors write the story of the battle in such a way as to put them in a good light, i.e. the Bayeaux Tapestry, or Caesar's 'Conquest of Gaul'(which still makes fascinating reading for me today).  This often makes it harder to discover the real story.
In the summer of 1966, long before the age of 'Elf and Safety' and over-commercialising of historical sites, my wife and I stopped off at Battle en-route for Hastings, and picnicked on the battlefield.  The only company we had were a few, curious cows!
After eating, I went on a rummage to see if I could find any battle detritus, with no luck!
We then went on to Hastings to visit the '1066' 900th. Anniversary exhibition on Hastings Pier.
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Tim of Aclea
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« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2013, 11:03:34 AM »

The question that I do not think has ever been satisfactorily answered is as to why Harold II, having only recently fought Stamford Bridge, did not stay longer in London giving his troops more time to recover and building up his strength rather than rushing down to fight William.

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daveSea
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« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2013, 18:18:17 PM »

I was taught at School that Harold recruited on his march back from Stamford Bridge.
And that it was Norman tactic to appear to retreat then to turn and fight once the persuers had relinquished their
defensive position. His regular troops were aware of this tactic and knew not to give chase in the face of an apparent retreat
However it was the new recruits that broke ranks and ruined the day for Harold.
 
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« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2013, 18:27:14 PM »

If Harold had stayed in London then he could have built up his strength.  It was already unusually late in the campaigning season and William would have had increasing problems keeping his army supplied, in particular fodder for the horses.

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Tim of Aclea
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2013, 08:11:39 AM »

“Then Earl William … made a castle at Hastings market town.  … he [King Harold] gathered a great raiding-army, and came against him[William] at the grey apple-tree.  And William came upon him by surprise before his forces were marshalled.” Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

This battle is normally referred to as the Battle of Hastings but Hastings, the location of the Norman fort, was about seven miles from the location of the battle.  William referred to the battle as being at Senlac and Sandlake is the English version of Senlac.

When one considers how and why Harold and William fought the campaign from William’s landing up to the battle, there is no dispute about what both of them did and little dispute about why William took the decisions he did.  However, as to why Harold marched from London to Sandlake, which largely decided the battle, that is a different matter.

William landed at Pevensey unopposed on 28th September.  It is normally claimed that William was not able to sail before the 27th September because of contrary winds but I have my doubts.  The timing seems too good to be true.  What if William in fact waited until he got news that Harald Hardrada had landed before sailing?  Certainly the timing fits in quite well with that idea.  William, however, made no attempt to push rapidly inland but immediately built a castle, in fact he had even brought a flat pack castle with him on the ships.  William was clearly nervous and even the Norman chronicler William of Jumieges admits as much.  Having built his castle William then set about ravaging the surrounding countryside.  William was clearly trying to draw Harold to him.

Harold heard of William’s landing in York on 2nd October and immediately travelled back to London.  He spent from the 7th to 11th October in London and then either on 11th or 12th he set off to attack William.  On the night of 13th October Harold and his army camped on Cadbec Hill in front of the Sandlake brook, about seven miles from Hastings, which was where William’s army was located.  This position effectively blocked Williams’s route to London but then William had so far made no attempt to advance towards London.  The distance between the two is 58 miles.  If the army was entirely mounted, as I believe it may have been, then that is not such a difficult march as it would have been if the army was mainly on foot. 

The crucial question is why did Harold immediately march to fight William rather than wait in London at least until his troops had recovered from Stamford Bridge or even longer until he had built up an overwhelming strength.  The suggested reasons are:

1. Harold was moving to block William ‘breaking out’ towards London.  William up until then was acting a typical ‘Viking’.  He was also conscious of William’s use of cavalry.  Also he did not want William to march through England parading his papal banner showing support of the church.

2. Harold was moving to stop William ravaging his own earldom

3. Harold had to attack because his hold on his realm was crumbling

4. Harold was overconfident as a result of Stamford Bridge and just assumed he would win following Stamford Bridge

5. Harold tried to repeat his victory at Stamford Bridge by launching a surprise attack on William, possibly hoping to pin the Norman army within their fortifications at Hastings where their cavalry would have had to fight on foot.

This has been heavily debated and the fact is that, whatever alternative decision Harold made, it could not possibly have turned out worst than the one he made.  Looking at the suggested reasons one by one. 

1. The first one is the one put forward by the ‘defenders of Harold Godwinson’ of which I am not one.   William had made no attempt to break out from the Hastings area but was rather clearly wanting Harold to attack him, and one should never do what your opponent wants you to do.  William may have had cavalry but he also had a lot of infantry and so could only more as fast as his infantry.  I am sure that the papal banner, assuming the Normans had it, was a great boost for the Norman army but I doubt if the average thane let alone the average English peasant would be able to recognise a papal banner and know what it meant.

2. If he did move to stop William ravaging his earldom then it was a very short sighted decision and one that William would never have made.  On one occasion when enemies were invading Normandy he deliberately allowed the enemy to disperse and ravage the area they were in and then attacked them while they were dispersed.

3. I mention this one because it is given in Michael Woods ‘In search of the dark ages’ but I can see no evidence for this and after Stamford Bridge and I would have thought that support would have rallied around Harold rather than decreased.  If it was true, which seems unlikely, then it is the one reason that would provide Harold with an excuse.

4 and 5 In either case, this was a mistake.

To sum up Harold Godwinson made a huge error in not waiting in London until his forces had recovered or until William was forced to come inland and attack him.  This error was not only to cost Harold Godwinson and his brothers their lives but also the lives of large numbers of English soldiers and ultimately cost the whole nation extremely dearly.

The problem with trying to write an account of the actual battle is that the only sources for it, apart from a very brief mention in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the extent to which the Bayeux tapestry reflects in part an English view, are all Norman.  I am not saying that they are necessarily that unreliable in their description of the battle but most importantly they do not know what Harold’s plans were in fighting the battle and see things only from a Norman point of view. 

Harold deployed his army on the hill, which not only was an excellent defensive position but also blocked the road to London.  On either side of what is now the Abbey, there was a cross ridge, the slopes of which were sufficiently steep to break up any cavalry charge.  The ground in front of the ridge was boggy and the position was protected from being outflanked by several ravines and dense forest.  It is not clear to me whether the Huscarls were deployed in the centre with the Select Fyrd deployed on the flanks or whether the Huscarls were spread along the entire front.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that the Normans attacked before the English army were ready.  Assuming this was not just an excuse, it may suggest either that as a result of Harold’s rapid march to Cadbec Hill the army was strung out and still arriving when William attached or it may mean that Harold had not had time to fully sort out his deployment or possibly both.  The next question is the location of Harold’s two brothers Gurth and Leofwine; it seems that neither Edwin nor Morcar were present.  Harold was located at the centre of the English army and so I would assume that the brothers would each have commanded a flank.  The only evidence against this is that one of the Norman chroniclers that the two brothers died close to Harold.  The next question is whether Harold had had to rely not just on the Huscarls and Select Fyrd but also on General Fyrd troops to make up his army; General Fyrd troops were much poorer equipped and trained than Select Fyrd.  The evidence for this is a section of the Bayeux Tapestry that shows some on a hillock who have neither helmets nor armour.  Possibly though they were just locals who wanted to strike back at the hated Normans.

The most important question though is whether Harold was planning to fight a purely defence battle or was he planning to fight with some sort of counter attack?  It could be that his original plan was to catch the Normans by surprise in there fortified camp at Hastings but when that failed, Harold decided to fight a purely defensive battle or he could have been planning, at an appropriate point in the battle, to carry out a limited or general counter attack.  However, if Harold had been planning to take William by surprise, he failed to do so.  William, as soon as he was warned by his scouts of the presence of the English army, got his army on the move.  They approached Harold’s position from Telham hill and deployed in three divisions.  On the left were the Bretons, in the centre the Normans and on the right the Flemish, Picards and French.  Each division was made up of cavalry, spearmen and missile troops.  William’s plan was quite straightforward.  Firstly his archers would weaken the English army then the spearmen were to attack it and break up the line and then the cavalry would charge in and complete the victory.  The plan was quite straightforward but failed completely.

The battle opened with the William’s archers opening fire on the English army, no doubt receiving some response from the few English archers but the impact of William’s archers was fairly limited.  William’s army was equipped with the short bow which had nothing like the effect of the later English longbow and even with the longbow the effect against armoured infantry had always been much less than against cavalry or unarmoured infantry.  With few arrows coming back from the English, the Norman archers soon ran out of ammunition. 

The next phase of the battle commenced with William’s spearmen attacking the English line to be met at close range by a barrage of missiles.  When it came to hand to hand combat the English had the advantage of the hill, they were experienced at fighting other infantry and so William’s infantry definitely got the worst of the engagement and were driven back.  It was at this point the cavalry attempted to come to their assistance.  This was not a classic cavalry charge and the cavalrymen more often seemed to throw their spears, javelin like, and then attack with their swords.  But again the cavalry got more than they bargained for from the English and the whole Norman army began to waver.  The first to retreat were the Bretons who, despite the slope being easiest on their flank, started to break and the Normans in the centre then fell back, the Flemish, Picards and French were also wavering and the cry went up that William was dead.  If at this point the entire English army had charged down the hill I think it is likely that much of the cavalry would have routed, not pausing for breath until they had reached their fortifications at Hastings and leaving their infantry to be cut to pieces.


However, what happened was neither one thing nor the other; the English army did not either all stay on the hill or all charge off the hill.  Instead of which some of the English poured off the hill in pursuit while the majority stated where they were.  Again we come back to Harold’s original strategy.  Did he plan for the army to remain totally on the defence, did he plan a limited counter attack or did he intend a general counter attack.  One suggestion I read in a pro-Harold book is that a general counter attack was intended but it faltered due to both Harold’s brothers, Leofwine and Gyrth, getting killed.  In support of this is the fact that it is at this point in the narrative that the Bayeux tapestry lists them as dying but the tapestry often shows things for effect rather than strict chronology and it seems extremely unlikely that with the English army advancing they would both get killed at about the same time.

In fact it was William who moved rapidly to rally the situation, raising his helmet to show he was not dead and then organising his cavalry to isolate off the pursuing English who were then cut down, the tapestry shows a few English desperately trying to defend a small hillock cut off from the rest of the army.  The net result was that very few of the pursuing English made it back to the main body.

There was now probably a pause in both armies.  Harold needed to reorganise his army to fill in the gap left by the failed pursuit.  William needed a completely new plan, his original had failed and he had come close to disaster.  William tried again but this time relying on his cavalry as his infantry were clearly no match for the English on the hill.  The English were not used to fighting cavalry and both the Huscarls and Fyrd were at some disadvantage when fighting them, the two handed axes of the Huscarls left them not able to use their shield and vulnerable to spear and javelin attack.  The spears of the Fyrd were designed for fighting other infantry and were much shorter than the long spears used by other armies to fend cavalry off.  As a result here and there William’s cavalry managed to break into the shield wall but in other places they were forced back and again it seems that English troops set off in hot pursuit and this time William was fully ready and had fresh cavalry to cut them down.  It has been suggested, though disputed, that William used the tactic of a feigned retreat to lure the English to their doom.

For William time was beginning to run out for fighting had been going on all day and if Harold was able to withdraw his army under cover of darkness and live to fight another day the victory would be anything but decisive.  With the English army now severely weakened and probably also becoming more tired due to its rapid march from London, it is suggested that at the last William launched what could be described as a ‘combined arms’ assault.  His archers had received fresh supplies of arrows and are said to have used both direct and high trajectory fire.  It was now that William was able to attack with both his cavalry and infantry and at some point Harold was cut down and killed and his banner ‘the Fighting Man‘ and the dragon banner of Wessex both fell.  But was Harold killed by the arrow in the eye?  This is not mentioned in the early sources (all Norman) but the tapestry has the motive ‘Here King Harold is killed’ below it is the picture of one figure who may be pulling an arrow out of his eye (examination suggests that there has been some alteration to the stitching) while there is a second figure being cut down by a cavalryman.  The Norman accounts refer to Harold being hacked to pieces by four knights (his body was only later recognisable through certain tattoos).  Harold was famous for his fighting prowess and that he had already been weakened by an arrow would explain how the knight were able to hack him down and the Norman chroniclers would not necessarily wished to have advertised it.

With the death of Harold the English army finally broke and, despite the lateness of the day, William ordered a vigorous pursuit.  But even in retreat the English could fight back and a group made a stand by a small ravine, referred to by the Norman chroniclers as the Malfoss, and several cavalrymen plunged to their death but even here the English defending it were outflanked although they may have bought some time for others to escape.

What was decisive though was not the English losses, severe even though they undoubtedly were, but the death of both Harold and his two brothers.  With Tostig already dead, England had lost all its experienced leaders; Edwin and Morcar were young, inexperienced and their only battle was the defeat at Gate Fulford.
 
Michael Wood in one of his books refers to a boyhood comic where there was a strip cartoon based on 1066 and at the end one wounded thane is helping away another thane with all seemingly doomed for England but has a vision of the future greatness of England.  If there was a film of 1066 then I would suggest that clips from various films could be used to illustrate that future greatness.  For example Henry V, Fire over England (Armada), Hornblower, Waterloo, Charge of the Light Brigade, Zulu, the Four Feathers, Young Winston, any number of WW2 films and finally Neil Armstrong on the moon.  For it was the language of the conquered (abet much changed) and not the language of the conqueror that was to become the most important language in the world.  An idea at which in 1066, William, the Pope, the Holy Roman and Byzantine Emperors, the rulers of the Arab world and India and the emperor of China would have laughed.


It is a mistake to think that the battle of Sandlake alone won England for William.  There was considerable English resistance after Sandlake but it was disjointed and lacked leadership.  But a lesser leader than William would even then probably have lost control of the country. 

The critical error that the remaining English leadership made was to accept William as king; they probably expected him to be another Cnut.  They should have supported Edgar as king and retired on York if necessary.  Once William was king he could raise taxes and men with ease and without that legitimacy he would just have been another pillaging viking.
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Icare9
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2013, 18:32:58 PM »

Just a "Heads Up" on at 8 pm tonight (1st December) Channel 4...

I have to say, why did they choose to fight at a mini roundabout?
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/battle-hastings-roundabout-channel-4s-2872607
Must have caused tailbacks all over the place!

"Oi, you can't park those warhorses there, that's a disabled bay!
You'll have to pay and display over there by the hoar apple tree!
This isn't a Park and Ride scheme, you know!!"

exit, coat, hat, door slams on way out.....
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« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2013, 08:54:01 AM »

Very interesting programme. One thing I had always wondered about was if the Abbey Site was the true Battleground then why do EH allow the re enactors to hack it about so much? It is now damaged by horses to the extent that Battel Bonfire Society are no longer allowed in due to the ground state and celebrate in the square outside. Have EH had suspicions all along? My only concern is that the theories were in the usual Time team form of being based on "possibly", might have been" and what they don't find. Much wouldn't stand up in court
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Icare9
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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2013, 14:58:11 PM »

As you say, very interesting and it did need a complete re-examination of the area to understand the topography of where the battle was likely to be fought.

The main stumbling block has always been that the Abbey is said to have been built expressly where William said King Harold was killed.

If we now accept the revision which places it only very slightly away from Battle Abbey but still within Battle Town, then feelings may have been saved all round.

I feel rather sorry for Nick Austin who has always contended that the actual site was elsewhere.
Crowhurst or Telham seem to have got short shrift, and his contention that Turkish crossbowmen were there or the artifcats believed to be helmet rims were summarily dismissed.

It still makes sense to me that William first landed in the unprotected wide bay at Pevensey, and then swiftly moved to capture the port at Hastings (where Wilting is now). Like D Day in reverse, you want to get your troops ashore on a wide enough spread that cannot be defended entirely, then move on to capture a proper port from which to unload your main stores and supplies.

Harold probably realised that William could be bottled up on that peninsular and made all haste to get there before William could "break out".
That's what probably led to the clash, the Saxons mustered around Caldbec Hill as the highest point, but William realised the danger he was in and moved to try and break past the "cork" of the junction of Marley Lane with Battle Hill. That was much more defensible for Harolds shield wall and still unfavourable for William.

Only the exceptional length of the battle which saw parts of the Saxon line being whittled away, possibly with arrows firing into those immediately behind the shield wall eventually allowed the Normans to break through. Harold may well have been wounded and moved from the crest of Battle hill to the nearby crest of the abbey site, where he could still be seen and control the Saxon battle line, yet be where he was overwhelmed by the Normans.

That allows the battlefield to be where it is now proposed, yet still conform to the abbey being the site of Harold being killed.

They don't have to be one and the same.

.... but is it the final word?Huh.....................
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Tim of Aclea
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2017, 08:10:24 AM »

There has recently been a BBC 3 part series on 1066 and the 3 battles of that year.  I recorded the series, it was fronted by Dan Snow of whom I am not a great fan, and then scanned through it.  It was semi dramatised as well as having 3 historians take the parts of Harold, Harald and William.  There was quite a lot in it that did not impress me including missing out one of Harold's brothers as well accepting the extremely dodgy 'standard' account of Stamford Bridge.  However, I was pleased that it did at least acknowledge that Harold made a huge error in not staying in London, building up his forces and forcing William to come to him rather than immediately rushing down to confront William and getting defeated.  How different history would have been if Harold had bided his time as Athelstan did in 937.

Tim
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