In this Time Team special the team tries to find the 1066 battlefield. Willam the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 changing the course of English history. Where this history took place is a mystery. No archeological evidence of the 1066 battlefield has been found. The Battle of Hastings at 1066 was one of the most ferocious battles in English history. It was brutal and bloody. So where is the battlefield? Time Team has been given unprecedented access to the official 1066 battlefield.
Tony Robinson starts by discussing the history of 1066. 1066 had a seismic impact on English history. The aristocracy was removed and replaced with foreigners. Castles appeared in the English landscape for the first time. The battle was the thought of William, Duke of Normandy. He was the cousin of the English king. When the English King died, another man seized the throne. William then made his way over to England and won the English throne.
Later in English history, an abbey was built on the site of the battlefield. The Normans built an altar where Harold, the noble who attempted to take the throne, died. Unfortunately, there was no evidence of a battle that took place at the site. No bones, no weapons were found. Both sides had about 7,000 men each. Harold had lost a lot of men defeating a Viking army. It was a challenge to cobble together an army. William had taken Hastings and was ready to fast Harold.
Several English historians finally started to challenge the real story about the location of the battle. They looked to the chronicles. The chronicles said that the battle was fought on the high ground and not on level ground. The monks built the abbey four years after the battle and built it on a flat piece of the ground after getting advice from the locals.
Time Team starts investigating the official battlefield and then the Hill where the historians believe that the 1066 battle took place. Immediately, they run into problems because there are historical reenactments that take place on the official battlefield. They will have to strip a layer of ground off the site because of the modern debris in the soil. They will have to be careful when they remove the top layer. 900-year-old remains will be fragile, so they take care in removing the top ground layer.
Phil talks with one of the reenactors about what items would be dropped. The reenactors talk about dropping teeth and bits and pieces off his uniform. Weapons, even broken weapons, would be taken off the battlefield. Anything that could be repaired was taken. Scavengers would take care of the rest. Tony looks at the Bayeux Tapestry. It was a record of the Battle of Hastings. It was created in Canterbury. William the Conqueror’s half brother commissioned the tapestry. Although it is an excellent piece of work, it demonstrates how little is known about the Battle of Hastings
The Time Team goes over the plowed area with metal detectors. They find metal nails and some archeology. The dig continues. It is a risk for English Heritage because the dig could find evidence that the battle did not take place where legend says it did.
This is an excellent Time Team episode. It is so intriguing with its different angles as to the true location of the Battle of Hastings. Tony Robinson narrates this episode very well and with a great deal of humor. This would be one episode I would show to a history classroom or a science classroom because of all the theories and tests that are shown in this episode. So does Time Team find the actual location of the Battle of Hastings, continue to watch to find out!
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