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 that decisive battle, find out more about the battle itself and the events of 1066, discover how the Norman Conquest transformed England, and explore some of the spectacular castles and great abbeys the Normans built across the land.

The Battle of Hastings

The Norman Invasion

The Battle of Hastings is the most famous battle in English history. 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.

  • 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.

  • Battle Abbey seen up the slope of the battlefield

    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.

  • 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.

After the Battle

  • A reconstruction drawing of Battle Abbey church

    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.

  • 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. Discover the reasons behind the foundation of the abbey.

  • Battle Abbey seen in mist across the battlefield

    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.

The Norman Impact

Find Norman places to visit with our interactive map

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. 

But perhaps the impact that is most noticeable today lies in the architectural gems that survive from the Norman period – from great castles, symbols of power and control, to tiny parish churches hidden in the countryside and adorned with astonishing sculpture and wall paintings.

Find Norman Sites to Visit
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Norman Castles and Abbeys

See some of the best-preserved Norman architecture in England at English Heritage castles and abbeys. Use the links below to find out more about some of the most spectacular places to visit, or see above for a map of our key Norman sites.

  • 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.

Get Involved

Join us in 2016 as we bring back to life the events of 1066. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, share your favourite Norman sites, and find out what events are taking place near you to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

  • Saxon re-enactor

    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.

  • Peveril Castle in the snow.


    Get out into the open early in 2016 with a winter walk. For this special year, we've picked some of our favourite Norman sites from across England which are perfect to explore on foot.

  • Girl wearing a Norman helmet

    Learn With Us

    Pre-book a FREE self-led or expert-led discovery visit to Battle Abbey. And follow us @EHEducation for updates on the resources we’re developing for schools studying the Norman Conquest.

  • Book a Free School Visit

    We offer free entry to pre-booked learning groups at over 400 sites, including Battle Abbey.

  • Planning a visit to our Norman sites? Become a member and see them all for free.



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