1066 - 'The Battle of Hastings'

Today we stepped back in time to October 14, 1066 with a second trip to Battle (not far from Hastings), where the famous 'Battle of Hastings' actually took place. This was not an ordinary visit though: this week marks the anniversary of the bloody battle that took place on the fields 943 years ago. With the anniversary comes a massive celebration at Battle, including a huge reenactment, with actors dressed in battle clothing from the era, wielding weapons from the same.

Imagine this.....you stand on the hillside of Selnac Ridge just outside Battle in East Sussex (6 miles from Hastings) as the Norman Army, consisting of over 8000 men (including cavalry, archers, infantry and crossbow men) approach from the nearby Pevensy Castle. They are passionate as they drive themselves onward for attack in what they claim is a Holy War: they believe that their leader, Duke William of Normandy, has been wrongfully deprived of the throne of England after being promised it by Harold during the reign of King Edward, and carry with them the blessing of the Pope. Now King of England, Saxon leader Harold, on the other hand, states that this promise was made under duress during his time of ímprisonment' in Normandy and is determined to defend his throne so sends his army (consisting of approx 7500 men) from their latest battle against the Vikings at Stamford Bridge, North England (where the Saxons were victorious).
Swords clash, arrows pierce, horses and men fall as this bloody battle, that left thousands dead and bleading all over the fields, takes place. The battle is believed to have started early in the morning and was over before nightfall. It all ended when King Harold finally fell after, depending on which theory you follow, being pierced in the eye by an arrow; being hacked down by horsemen; or both.... who knows. This left William to take the throne of England, becoming King William I, otherwise known as William the Conqueror of England.
The sounds as the actors 'battled it out'on the hill at Selnac Ridge were nothing short of eerie, as we all stood, silent, watching this amazing show. Knowing that we have seen the famous Bayeux Tappestry in France (which gives a historical account of this story) gave us goosebumps... being able to piece it all together as completely as we can is truly amazing.
During the day the boys even got to play out their own version of the reenactment with a huge group of children, all wielding rubber swords and wooden shields... they had a ball as they hacked and ducked their way through their own battle. The anniversary weekend is definately the one to choose, if possible, for visiting this historic site. It really did feel as if we had taken a giant step back in time. Amazing!


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