Norman England

King Harold and William the Conqueror

We sent young Member Will to 1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield to interview King Harold and William the Conqueror and learn about the events leading up to England's most famous battle. Just don't mention THAT arrow Will!



William, where did you land your boats?
We arrived in Pevensey Bay. We constructed fortifications there until we moved near Hastings and could build a more secure base.

Harold, why do you want to keep the English crown so much?
This Norman invader wants to change the way we live and change the way our church is run.

William the Conquerer

William, why do you think you're going to win?
We have the most modern army. I will press first with infantry, shower their shield wall with archery and sweep down with cavalry.

Harold, how do you think you're going to fight off William's men?
Simple. We have taken the high ground, we have denied him the road to London. He cannot go past us because the whole land is covered in forest. We will simply hold our ground at the top of the hill with strong, brave men.


Sketch of the Battle of Hastings conflict

Marching to victory

Marching south after defeating Harald Hardrada's army at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, Harold's Saxon army lined up on a hill around eight miles from Hastings to meet William's Norman army.

On the ground below, William's Norman army lined up. He had the same number of men but, crucially, he had archers, who could kill from a distance, and his swift, well-trained cavalry on horseback.

William's men attacked up the slope all day, with exhausted knights coming back down the hill to have a break. Though they were being weakened, Harold's Saxons held firm and, as night approached, they hoped to hold on for victory.

1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield

Tricky Tactics

With masterful tactics, William ordered his men to retreat and lots of the Saxons left the hill, running after the Normans. But it was a trick! The retreating Normans turned around to kill their pursuers.

With one final push the Normans overran the brave Saxon forces left on the hill. King Harold was killed, either by a horseman or by an arrow through the eye and the last of Harold's men surrendered.

Six years after the battle, William founded an abbey on the battlefield. It was to give thanks for his victory and to honour those lost that day. The church's altar was built on the spot where Harold's body was found.

Visit the Battlefield


Visit 1066 Battle of Hastings Abbey and Battlefield to stand on the very site where King Harold and William the Conqueror clashed. Explore abbey ruins and meet the Normans and Saxons on our sculpture trail. See the new gatehouse exhibition revealing the abbey's role in the country's future, then head to the roof for stunning views of the battlefield.

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