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, on 14 October, to the Battle of Hastings. 

In 2016, 950 years after the battle, discover more about the battle itself and its impact, find out how we’ve been commemorating the events of 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.

An education visit at Battle Abbey

Schools and 1066

We've got lots of ways to help you bring the story of the Norman Conquest to life.

Discover our 1066 teaching resources and teachers kits which you can use in the classroom or at one of our many Norman places across the country.

You can also book a free educational visit to one of our historic places and allow your students to stand in the places where history happened.

Find Out More

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.

  • The Bayeux Tapestry scene showing William, Duke of Normandy, raising his helmet during the Battle of Hastings, to reveal to his troops that he is still alive

    What Happened at the Battle of Hastings?

    At dawn on Saturday 14 October 1066, two great armies prepared to fight for the throne of England. Read what happened at the most famous battle in English history.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

2016: Year of the Normans

2016 was a special anniversary for the Battle of Hastings. To mark 950 years since this decisive battle took place, we brought the story of 1066 to life and invited people across the country to join us as we commemorated one of the most famous dates in English history.

  • 1066 March

    The 1066 March

    In Autumn 2016, Battle of Hastings re-enactment participants marched from York to Hastings to recreate King Harold's journey in 1066.

  • Kids' Tapestry

    Competition: The Kids' Tapestry

    We joined forces with illustrator Liz Pichon to create a sequel to the Bayeux Tapestry - this time showing the Top 10 Moments from History.

  • 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.

  • Boy holding arrow

    1066 Arrow Hunt

    This summer, we hid 1,066 arrows across our sites and asked you to find them to claim a prize.

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.

  • 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.

  • Old Sarum, Wiltshire, aerial view

    What was William’s legacy?

    The Norman Conquest brought about the most radical change in society ever seen in England. This blog looks as some of the ways the country was transformed.

  • 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.

  • 1066 Year of the Normans graphic image of army

    1066 podcasts

    Listen to our experts discuss the impact of the Norman Conquest on England, as well as events before, during and after the Battle of Hastings, in this three-part podcast.

  • 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 some of the key features of Norman architecture.

  • 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 adults. But under the Normans, consumption of wine in England 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.

  • Victorian illustration of Hereward the Wake fighting Normans

    Conquest: fact or fiction?

    It’s often said that history is written by the winners. But in medieval stories the Normans didn’t always come out on top, as we discover from tales told about the Conquest.

Dover Castle

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