Battle of Hastings

Hastings – Update

Battle and Hastings Chronicle – October 15th 1066

Carnage on mini roundabout!

Yesterday, at a roundabout in a little village shortly to be named ‘Battle’ a horde of rampaging forigners, probably driving on the wrong side of the road, caused a day long traffic jam when they refused to give way to fine, upstanding and noble Englishmen. The result was mayhem with 1000’s dead.

Sports pages

Readallabarrrdit – Final results on the Battle of Hastings.

On a little hillock near a larger hill where an Abbey will be built in about 4 years time (subject to planning permission) the English team met the visiting French team head on. The contest lasted all day with honours pretty much even until a Frenchie poked a sharp stick in the eye of King Harry. Some say King Harry should have been sitting on the bench on a nearby hill and watching but you know our ‘arry, always in the thick of it. He was the same with the Vikings last month on the away match at Stamford Bridge but that time he trounced them!

And so the contest was over. William the Bastard wins with 1000’s dead in a day long contest for the whole of England. It’s a crown for Bill, one in the eye for Harry and a complete change of management for England.

 Political Comment

With King Harold and most, if not all, of his most senior advisers dead William the Bastard, soon to be referred to as ‘William the Conqueror’, will take control of the entire English team. Every notable noble and even the not notable nobles together with every civic leader, assistant civic leader and assistant’s assistant civic leader shall be replaced with Billy the Bastards own team players. Our national language will become ‘French’ and the version of administration will be distinctly Norman. These Norman Jonnies have a great deal of experience of ruling conquered lands. Mark my words in very few years they will publish a book that will determine how much tax is owed by every person in the land!

Fellow Saxons, Doomsday shall soon be upon us all!

Horoscope page

Long story short – every star sign “expect to see significant change, in everything!”

 Cookery page

Horse should be cooked slowly over a very fierce bonfire until burnt to a crisp – then thrown away! The English shall always be Les Ros Bifs to the French. On the plus side expect to see rather nice Pomme and Poire Cidre in the markets soon together with delicious crème glacée in the shops next summer.

That or something similar might have been what the papers said on reporting the battle had William Caxton (1415-1492) invented his printing press about 400 years earlier.

If it helps you to buy into that which is above try to think of it as a Saxon version of the Daily Wail and the Groiniad merged together. There are some useful snippets of information buried deep within the prose(?), you just have to search hard to find it.

Leap forward to modern times (late 2013) the local press is having a field day due to the scientific examination of the ‘battlefield’ by Sir Tony of Time Team and his merry band.

For years experts have argued about the actual location of the battlefield. Some local historians have suggested that the sloping fields below the Abbey are not where it all went wrong for England and have suggested that sites close by may be where the mayhem/carnage actually took place. Their arguments had a potentially plausible basis as no archaeological evidence of any battle has ever been found on the ‘official’ site. English Heritage, the present custodians of the site, allowed Sir Tony and the team access enabling them to bring 21st century technology to the party and see what could be discovered.

Using the latest technology they investigated both the ‘official’ battlefield and its leading rival, Caldbec Hill, about half a mile away to the north. The main problem with the ‘official’ battlefield was the debris left behind after the annual re-enactments and the general flow of visitor’s droppings. The top couple of inches or so of soil and turf had to be scraped off to get to the clean area below where extra sensitive metal detectors could be employed. Unfortunately once the top had been scraped off there was nothing to be found beneath. Ooops!

Over at Caldbec Hill they didn’t fare much better, nothing of significance was found there either. So, if there was no evidence of a major battle at either site where did Harry and Bill have their battle?

The only potentially battlefield artefact ever found was found in the 1950’s and was possibly an Anglo-Saxon battleaxe although at the time of finding it was thought to be a woodsman’s axe from a few hundred years later. A minor(?) problem was that nobody knew for sure where it was actually found or how deep in the ground. Tricky! The axe head was sent to Kiel University in Germany where the boffins had developed a method of dating ancient metal objects. They determined that it was of the correct age to have been lost in October 1066!

Time for Sir Tony’s team to get sneaky. Wheel in the very latest technology. Aerial laser technology (LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – To find out more about LiDAR ) that enables the mapping of the ground in a way that makes it possible for computer software to strip away the ‘modern’ stuff, buildings and the like leaving just terra firma (‘ish).

Once the detritus of the ‘modern’ era (the last 1000 or so years) had been digitally removed the trained military eye could see that the official site of the battle was not really a contender from William’s point of view as an attacker, it being across boggy ground at the foot of the hill. The bog would force William to outflank the English army so that would not suit Harold much either.

The proposed alternative at Caldbec Hill was a non-starter for Harold as the Norman army could simply have surrounded the English and basically waited until they got tired and tried to go home. Or, indeed just ignored them and marched right past.

With the two main options neatly disposed of there had to be an alternative battle site. The keen, highly trained and experienced mind spotted it quite quickly. A few hundred yards to the South East from the official battle site the digital image showed a small hillock, almost a spur of the main hill. Any advancing army would have to cross the narrow strip of land on the top.

Harold would have placed his shield wall across that narrow strip thus restricting the Norman advance to that defined area only and to a few hundred men at a time. With no option to outflank the English William would just have to keep throwing his men against the shield wall until it finally broke. This restricted the battle to more or less a continuous sequence of smaller battles where the Normans tried to advance against the Saxon shield wall. Killed a few before being beaten back then both sides replenished and they had another go. This is supported by the ‘records’ which suggest that the battle went on all day, normally they would have lasted an hour or so, and 1000’s were killed.