So You Think You Know All About the Battle of Hastings?
You might struggle to recall the precise date of many significant events in British history. Could you name the year in which the Gunpowder Plot took place or when Queen Elizabeth I ascended to the throne? No? You are not alone!
Many people would struggle to identify the right century let alone the correct year! However, the fact that the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066 is probably imprinted indelibly on your mind. It is one of those things that is hammered into you at school.
You might also believe that you are acquainted with the important facts about the battle. The battle took place in Hastings, King Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye and the important events are recorded on a large French tapestry right?
The Battle of Hastings Did Not Take Place in Hastings
The battle was actually fought about 7 miles from Hastings, close to the current location of the town of, yes you’ve guessed it, Battle! The battle took place on a hill but historians are still arguing about which one!
King Harold Was Not Killed by an Arrow in the Eye
In the 1080s a monk, Amatus of Montecassino, who resided in Italy, wrote an account of Norman history. This featured the first mention of the arrow in Harold’s eye but scholars now believe that Amatus made up this chapter of the story! The Bayeux Tapestry does depict the arrow in Harold’s eye but there is evidence to suggest this is an alteration made long after the tapestry was originally created.
The Bayeux Tapestry is not a Tapestry and isn’t French
The Bayeux Tapestry is actually an enormous example of embroidery. A tapestry is a fabric with the design woven into it whereas the images of the Bayeux Tapestry are sewn onto it. Although commissioned to hang in Bayeux, the tapestry was almost certainly made in England. It is a spectacular creation which includes 623 people, 202 horses, 55 dogs and 49 trees! Did you know that it also features Halley’s Comet which was visible from Earth shortly before the battle?
Much of what really happened during the Battle of Hastings is lost in the mists of time. Scholars will continue to research the subject and argue about their findings but there is much that we will never fully understand.
What we do know for sure is that The Battle of Hastings was over in a day and that day was 14 October 1066. William the Conqueror defeated King Harold II and was eventually crowned King William I of England. 2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the battle and to celebrate the occasion Royal Mail are issuing a commemorative sheet featuring ten stamps with informative labels.