Battle Abbey is the supposed site of the Battle of Hastings – William set it up a few years after the battle to mark the his victory, with the high alter in the Abbey marking the spot where Harold died. The visitor centre is new and impressive but there seems little evidence that this was the actual spot of the battle!
The fight lasted all day, of the 14000 men who fought that day, 7000 were killed. It is not a big field so the bodies must have piled high!
Harold’s fundamental problem seemed to be (according to all the helpful signs about the site) that he did not ride a horse and William did! Therefore William could see what was going on and Harold couldn’t – although later on his vision was further impaired by an arrow in the eye!
The Saxons occupied the high ground and waited, while William was at a disadvantage having to go up the hill to Harold across a bog! He must have had a bit of a Grand Old Duke of York moment! This is place where the Saxons first broke the Norman attack, however it turned into a disaster as the Saxons chased the fleeing Normans. William with the advantage of height on his horse surrounded them with his cavalry and killed them all!
Then later on in the day, after both sides had hacked themselves to a standstill, William thought he would be a good idea to try and repeat the fall back and run trick – and true to form the Saxons fell for it, they were then surrounded and massacred! I am beginning to get trust issues about those Normans.
That was the beginning of the end for the Saxons.
The Abbey was second largest in the country, we thought that these were the Abbey buildings themselves, it turned out to be only the latrines, no wonder the grass was nice and green!
Being such a large Abbey, it eventually fell foul of Henry viii and he promptly dissolved it. The new owner selling off the surplus materials they did not use on their own new home for building the town. And all around the town you can see houses build from monastery stone!
So where was Harold killed? Well there were two different locations offered on the site itself with the smart money on the roundabout at the top of the road!