Digging up mystery of historic battle site

THE recent publication of a book suggesting the Battle of 1066 did not occur where the abbey is sited has sufficient sense to be examined.

It is established that no relics have ever been found at Senlac, despite excavations by academics.

Where thousands of men perished in the battle, it is almost incredulous that even the smallest items have never been found.

The author suggests that the battle could have been fought some two-and-a-half miles south near Crowhurst. Harold’s estates were all near Crowhurst, and history relates that his estates manager was hanged by William’s knights at Crowhurst after refusing to disclose Harold’s gold.

It may have been a challenge to Harold to make him hasten south to oppose the invaders. After the battle, William decreed that a Great Abbey be built to signify the defeat of the English.

The land around modern Battle is very hilly, and it could have been that the only site suitable for this was at Senlac Hill, and the nearest site available to where the actual battle occurred.

Also, word of mouth at the time says that Harold’s Army should assemble at the Hoary Apple Tree before engaging Duke William.

In the Bayeux Tapestry there is a crude depiction of the tree which has never before been considered relevant to the battle site. Other academics suggest the call to arms was on the heights above Mount Street.

Is this debate important? Of course, as this area is known for this great event and any views on the battle location are still very relevant. I still believe a confirmed relic can eventually be found.

If it were ever proved that Senlac is not the actual site of the battle, it would still not diminish the importance of the abbey founded by William to mark his conquest, and his subsequent coronation in London on Christmas Day, 1066.

If a relic was ever found where the battle was fought, it would surely rank with other items in the British Museum, as important to the nation, whether Norman or Saxon in origin.

The tree in Crowhurst Churchyard is known to be more than 1,000 years old.


Sedlescombe Road North

St Leonards