Hastings is most famously known for the Great Battle which was fought on a Hill in the area between the invading Norman army and the army of King Harold Godwinson of the Saxons in 1066.
The outcome marked a turning point in British history, and indeed that of the world as the Saxons were exposed to the culture and more importantly stone building techniques of Continental Europe.
The battle was fought seven miles to the north west of Hastings on 14 October 1066. The prelude to this great battle was a contested succession to Edward the Confessor who died without an heir.
Harold was made king, but his brother Tostig allied with King Harald of Norway and an offence was launched. The invaders won an early battle at Fulford, but were comprehensively beaten by the Anglo Saxons at Stamford Bridge – home of Premiership giants Chelsea – five days later.
William invaded on 28 September 1066. Harold Godwinson’s 7,000 strong army advanced to meet him and took the higher ground. The battle commenced at about 9am and went on till sundown. Harold had few archers and his ranks were mostly made up of infantry. The 10,000 Normans had trouble breaking the lines and played cat and mouse with the Saxons, pretending to flee, and then turning to fight.
William had plenty of archers and one of their missiles found the ultimate marl striking Harold in the eye and killing him. Skirmishes continued, but it was clear that the Normans were going to carry the day. William was eventually crowned King on 25 December of that same year. The invasion saw rebellions come and go, but the battle was the cementing point for Norman rule in England. A monastery built on the summit of the hill is said to have its altar in the exact spot where Harold died. The structure was commissioned by William himself.