Grounds open 10am, living history & mini-displays 12noon, battle 3pm, Battle Abbey, Battle, E Sussex (01424 773792); pounds 6 /pounds 5 concs, pounds 3 kids, English Heritage members freeReuse content
At about 9am on October 14 1066, some 14,000 soldiers met at Senlac Hill near Hastings to do battle for the English crown. By the end of the day the English King lay dead and William, King of the Normans, declared himself the conqueror. Poor old Harold. He'd only been crowned in January, and things had been looking so good. In September he'd defeated 300 shiploads of Norwegian invaders: their king was killed and all that remained of their army barely filled 20 ships. But the exertions were to prove too much for the English army. They had little time to recover before news of the Norman invasion reached them and they were back on the road for the 190-mile march from Stamford Bridge to Hastings. It was a bloody conflict, and Battle Abbey was built on the spot where Harold fell to atone for the carnage. This afternoon the battlefield will once again witness the clash of Norman and Saxon armies, though without the bloodshed. Comprising at least 500 warriors, foot soldiers, mounted knights and archers, the re-enactment is being staged to mark the publication earlier this summer of the English Heritage Battlefields register which aims to protect the most significant battlefield in England. Armour, equipment and battle tactics are as authentic as possible, with the soldiers being played by professional re-enactors who have researched accounts of the battle.