1066 and the Norman Conquest

Battle of Hastings reenactment

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.

Norman Places to Visit

Find Norman places to visit with our interactive map

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
  • Pevensey Castle

    Pevensey Castle

    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.

  • Old Sarum from the air

    Old Sarum

    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

    Rochester Castle

    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.

  • Dover Castle keep

    Dover Castle

    See some of the most impressive late 12th century architecture in England at this vast fortress, including Henry II's magnificent great tower.

  • Lindisfarne Priory

    Lindisfarne Priory

    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.

  • Richmond Castle

    Richmond Castle

    Built by a Norman baron, Richmond has more surviving 11th-century architecture than any other castle in England.

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 events leading up to the battle, the battle itself and the location of the battlefield.

  • Battle Abbey seen up the slope of the battlefield

    Visit the 1066 Battlefield

    Explore the site of the most famous battle in English history – one of the least altered of all medieval battlefields – and visit the abbey founded there by King William I.

  • The death of King Harold of England, depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

    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.

  • Recreating a Saxon shield wall

    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 Bayeux Tapestry Scene 17

    How to Organise a Norman Invasion Fleet

    You’ve ordered all your nobles and rich men to build your fleet of ships, but how many will you need? What supplies should you take and how on earth will you get the horses on board?

  • Victorian engraving showing Edith of Wessex identifying the body of her brother, King Harold, on the Hastings battlefield in 1066

    Women in 1066

    Find out about the roles of three of the women behind the throne in the period around the Norman Conquest, whose influence and power helped shape the events of 1066.

  • Spears depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

    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.

Take Part

It's been 950 years since the Battle of Hastings forged the future of England and we've got lots of ways for you to get involved in the anniversary. See battles brought to life with our thrilling reenactments, build your own Norman castle in Minecraft and follow the events of 1066 as they unfold in 2016.

  • 1066 March

    The 1066 March

    In Autumn 2016, Battle of Hastings re-enactment participants will pay tribute to King Harold's epic march from York to meet Duke William of Normandy in battle for the Crown of England.

  • Kids' Tapestry

    Competition: The Kids' Tapestry

    We've joined forces with illustrator Liz Pichon to create a sequel to the Bayeux Tapestry, this time showing the Top 10 Moments from History. Enter our competition and help finish it off!

  • Are you Norman or Saxon

    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.

  • A Norman Knight

    Twitter: 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.

  • Enter our Minecraft Norman Castle competition

    Minecraft: Build a Norman Castle

    We teamed up with The Yogscast to recreate Dover Castle in Minecraft. Let Master Builder Sjin guide you through the steps in our videos below, then construct your own crenellated creation.

  • Battle of Hastings reenactment

    The Battle of Hastings Reenactment

    Sat 15 - Sun 16 Oct 2016 | Battle Abbey, East Sussex
    Re-live the atmosphere and tension 950 years on, as more than 1,066 Norman and Saxon soldiers clash in this special anniversary Battle of Hastings reenactment.

1066 Events

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 Norman Impact

After the Battle of Hastings, William built Battle Abbey on the site of the battle to mark his great victory and atone for the bloodshed. On Christmas day 1066 he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.

The overthrow of the Saxon kingdom of England by William the Conqueror and his Norman knights was to transform the country they had conquered, from how it was organised and governed to its language and customs – and perhaps most visibly today, its architecture.

  • Norman knights depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry

    Norman Warfare

    Discover how the Norman Conquest was achieved thanks to two instruments of war previously unknown in England – the mounted, armoured knight, and the castle.

  • Castle Acre Priory

    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.

  • Battle of Hastings by Wilkins

    Atoning for the Bloodshed

    Battle Abbey was a memorial to William’s great victory – but it was also an act of penance. Find out why this great abbey was founded.

  • Lampreys in a bowl © Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

    How to Dine Like a Norman

    In the Bayeux Tapestry, William the Conqueror is depicted enjoying a fine feast soon after his invasion of England in 1066. What did the Normans bring to the English table?

  • Detail from the Bayeux Tapestry showing Normans drinking (© The Art Archive/Alamy)

    How to Drink Like a Norman

    Both before and after the Norman Conquest, everyone drank ale – from small children to grown men and women. But under the Normans, our consumption of wine increased ...

  • Some surnames, like Smith, pre-date the Norman Conquest

    Why Do We Have Surnames?

    One of the most obvious changes to English culture after 1066 occurs in people’s names. Find out how inherited surnames arrived with the Normans.

  • William the Conqueror, depicted in the Chroncile of Battle Abbey

    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.

Schools and 1066

Norman reenactors walking towards a sword 

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
  • Girl wearing a Norman helmet

    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.

  • Children in costume at Old Sarum

    Teacher’s Kits

    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.

  • Reconstruction of Conisbrough Castle

    Norman Site Histories

    You can find further in-depth information about many of our Norman castles and abbeys on our history pages.

Dover Castle

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