1066 and the Norman Conquest
1066 was a momentous year for England. The death of the elderly English king, Edward the Confessor, on 5 January set off a chain of events that would lead, ten months later, to the Battle of Hastings.
In 2016, 950 years after the battle, discover more about the battle itself and its impact, find out what events we’re putting on across England to commemorate 1066, and explore some of the spectacular castles and great abbeys the Normans built across the land.
Join us in commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings – the most famous battle in English history.
Throughout 2016 we’re putting on events across England where you can find out what life was like in 1066, and learn to fight like a Norman or Saxon.Find an Event
The Battle of Hastings
The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman army of Duke William of Normandy and an English army under King Harold. It lasted all day, and was exceptionally bloody even by medieval standards. When Harold was eventually killed and the English fled, the way was open for William to assume the throne of England. Find out more about the battle itself and the location of the battlefield.
Where did the Battle of Hastings happen?
Was Battle Abbey built ‘on the very spot’ where King Harold fell, or was the Battle of Hastings actually fought elsewhere? Discover the latest thinking about the battlefield’s location.
Visit the 1066 Battlefield
Explore the battlefield of the most famous battle in English history, and visit the abbey founded on its site by King William I.
Things You Didn't Know about 1066
Was William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings a foregone conclusion? Was King Harold really killed by an arrow in his eye? Find quick answers to these and other questions about 1066.
The Weapons of 1066
From the simple and affordable club to fine steel-bladed swords, we take a closer look at one of England's most famous battles and the weapons used by the Normans and Saxons.
The People of 1066
Throughout 2016, we'll be live-tweeting from eight Twitter channels, each representing a different level of society at the time of the Norman Conquest. Follow, share and take part using the hashtag #battle1066.
QUIZ: Are you Norman or Saxon?
Choose your shield and raise your banner! Take our quiz and discover if you are oath bound to Harold Godwinson and the Saxons or if your allegiance lies with Duke William and the Normans.
Build a Norman Castle
Let Master Builder Sjin guide you through the steps in our videos, then ready your best pickaxe and construct your own crenellated creation for our Norman castles competition.
After the Battle
After the Battle of Hastings, William quickly made his way to London, and was crowned king in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1066. Five years later, on his orders, a great abbey was built on the very spot where he had defeated King Harold.
Atoning for the Bloodshed
Battle Abbey was a memorial to William’s great victory – but it was also an act of penance. Discover the reasons behind the foundation of the abbey.
The History of Battle Abbey
Read an in-depth history of the abbey founded by William the Conqueror after the Battle of Hastings, from its foundation to its suppression and after.
Why Battle Abbey Matters
The well-preserved battlefield as well as the remains of the great memorial abbey are vivid reminders of the events of 1066.
Norman Places to Visit
You can see some of the best-preserved Norman architecture in England at English Heritage sites, including great castles and magnificent abbeys. Follow the links below to find out more about some of our most spectacular Norman sites, or explore our map to discover more Norman places to visit near you.Explore Our Map of Norman Places
A Norman castle was built here within the walls of a Roman fort close to the spot where William landed in England on 28 September 1066.
King William gathered his army here in 1070 after his campaign to subdue northern England. See the remains of the Norman castle and cathedral built here soon afterwards within a vast Iron Age hillfort.
Rochester Castle has one of the most spectacular keeps in England, begun in 1127. A masterpiece of Norman architecture, it is the tallest such building to survive in Europe.
See some of the most impressive late 12th century architecture in England at this vast fortress, including Henry II's magnificent great tower.
Benedictine monks from Durham founded a priory here in the 11th century to house a shrine to St Cuthbert. Surviving Norman architecture includes the famous rainbow arch.
Built by a Norman baron, Richmond has more surviving 11th-century architecture than any other castle in England.
The Norman Impact
The overthrow of the Saxon kingdom of England by the Normans had many repercussions. William and his knights transformed the country they had conquered, from its institutions and laws to its language and customs – and perhaps most noticeably today in its architecture.
Discover how the Norman Conquest was achieved thanks to two instruments of war previously unknown in England – the mounted, armoured knight, and the castle.
A New Style of Building
Discover how the Norman Conquest transformed the style of building in England, and learn about the key features of Norman architecture.
King William, Domesday and the Oath of Sarum
Find out how William I used an ancient centre of power, Old Sarum in Wiltshire, to set his seal on the conquest of England.
Take part in 1066
In 2016, schools can also get involved in the marking of the Battle of Hastings anniversary, through a range of special events and resources.Find out more
Book a School Visit
Enjoy a FREE self-led or expert-led discovery visit to Battle Abbey – what better place to learn about the Battle of Hastings? Pre-book a visit now.
Our free downloadable teacher’s kits to some of our key Norman sites – such as Clifford’s Tower, Conisbrough Castle, Old Sarum and Whitby Abbey – feature historical information, suggestions for activities and high-quality images.
Norman Site Histories
You can find further in-depth information about many of our Norman castles and abbeys on our history pages.