Time Team 1066 special - ‘Guesswork and supposition’

THE programme divided viewers, with some historians and some local people criticising Time Team for its supposition and lack of hard evidence.

Respected historian and author Marc Morris, who appeared on the programme, took to his blog shortly after the episode was screened.

He said: “So what of the claim for the traditional site at Battle Abbey? According to Tony Robinson at the top of the programme, it rests on ‘legend’. A few minutes later, ‘Legend says the Normans built the high altar exactly where Harold died.’

“Back to (historian) Laura Ashe, who is looking at the Chronicle of Battle Abbey with Tony in the British Library. Tony correctly says that it was written ‘more than 100 years after Hastings’. Laura points out the line that says that the abbey’s altar was precisely where King Harold fell, but goes on to say that, alas, the chronicle is ‘not trustworthy’.

“Now, it’s true that the Chronicle of Battle Abbey is in places demonstrably unreliable. It is on this basis that John Grehan, in his book, rules its testimony out of court.

“Which would be fair enough – if the Chronicle of Battle Abbey were our only witness.

“But it isn’t. Far from it: at least half-a-dozen earlier sources say exactly the same thing.”

He added: “The claim that Battle Abbey was built to mark the site of the battle is not ‘legend has it’, nor is it a claim that rests only on a late and unreliable source (ie the Chronicle of Battle Abbey).

“It’s a very strong, continuous historical tradition – one which stretches right back to the time of William the Conqueror himself.”

See Marc’s blog in full at http://www.marcmorris.org.uk/2013/12/time-team-battle-of-hastings.html
Meanwhile others took to social networking site Twitter to express their frustration at the lack of archeological evidence found during the Time Team investigation.

Former field and museum archeologist Matt Nicholas, who is currently studying a PhD in early medieval non-ferrous metals, Tweeted: “Well I hated the Battle of Hastings Time Team.

“Over confidence and supposition are not a replacement for evidence and debate.

One Battle resident told the Observer: “I was disappointed by the Time Team 1066 special.

“My home town and UK’s history boiled down to total guesswork, supposition and not an artefact found!”

He added: “It would have been equally scientific to get historians in the Kings Head over a beer and film that.”