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 Sussex Battle Abbey and Battlefield


There's one date in English history that everyone knows - 1066, the year the invading Normans defeated the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings.There is just as much myth surrounding the conflict as known fact. The two armies did not even fight at Hastings, but at a place north of the town now named Battle. In the ruins of the abbey that King William later built to commemorate the event, you can imagine you're standing on the very spot where the defeated King Harold fell. These days, a free interactive audio tour re-creates the sounds of the battle, as you stand where the Saxon army watched the Normans advancing towards them. With the Saxons occupying the higher ground, the Normans were forced to fight uphill. The battle raged for some hours with neither side gaining an advantage, until its course was decided when the Normans pretended to flee, but then turned back to cut down the Saxons who had broken ranks in pursuit. Open battle raged until the death of Harold, possibly through an arrow in his eye as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry.In 1070, after William had ruthlessly crushed all opposition to his rule, he founded Battle Abbey to atone for the loss of life during the conquest.

Today, a substantial portion of the abbey buildings remains, but little of the early Norman structure. Best preserved and most impressive of all is the Great Gatehouse, built C. 1338, the finest of all surviving medieval abbey entrances. The west range of the monastic cloister, incorporating the medieval Great Hall of the abbots, was adapted as a country house by Tudor and Georgian owners after Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.

For further information please visit:
 
Historic Site
 

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