ISSUE NUMBER 2

HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL

NOVEMBER 2008

HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL ISSUE NUMBER 2

PUBLISHED BY GEORGE GRASSE

PHOTO TOUR OF THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS 1066 AD

By George Grasse

HASTINGS COUNTRYSIDE IN MODERN TIMES:  This is a typical scene of the countryside around Hastings which exhibits rolling hills, segregated farm plots, and pleasant looking structures.  This scene at the time of the battle was much different.

 

VIEW TO THE RIGHT FRONT OF HAROLD'S POSITION: At the time of the battle, the ground to Harold's right might have appeared as it does in this view.  The primary tactical consideration is the relatively flat ground that is broken up by ditches, possibly fences, brush, trees, and the like.  This would have made it difficult for William's heavy cavalry to operate effectively

 

VIEW TO THE RIGHT FRONT OF HAROLD'S POSITION: This view is taken from the same spot as the photo above except it shows a continuation of the forward slope of Harold's position to his right flank.  This view suggests that Harold's immediate right flank may have been protected by a stand of trees.

 

VIEW OF HAROLD'S RIGHT FLANK: This view is from the lower part of William's right-center near the bottom of the slope looking out across to the high ground on which the Abbey is located (it wasn't there during the battle).  The Anglo-Saxon shield wall ran forward of and parallel to the drawn out cluster of buildings of the Abbey which was built after the battle to commemorate the Norman victory at Hastings (named after the nearby village).  The battleground featured opposing sloped ridges.  The center dividing the two ridges was variously broken up by soggy ground or a pitiful stream which offered some protection from charging Norman cavalry.

 

 

VIEW OF WILLIAM'S LINE FROM THE RIGHT FLANK LOOKING ALONG THE SLOPE TO THE LEFT FLANK: William's shield wall was deployed along this slope probably near the military crest.  Most likely, groups of archers would be deployed down the slope to be in range of Harold's shield wall.  Groups of William's cavalry would be supporting the main line and guarding the flanks.

 

VIEW OF THE RIGHT FLANK OF WILLIAM'S LINE: This view is from near the bottom of the William's ridge position looking to his right flank.  There were probably large numbers of cavalry posted here with a mix of heavy infantry and archers in the general area of the two small trees.

 

VIEW OF HAROLD'S RIDGE FROM THE CENTER OF THE DEPRESSION: This view is from the center of the two battle lines near the spot of the morass which played an important part in the battle.  This is nearer to Harold's right flank and the view is diagonally towards his center which is marked by the a portion of the Abbey on the skyline.

 

THE SMALL WATER COURSE DIVIDING THE TWO ARMIES: It is not known for sure the extent to which the small water course was covered in brush and trees.  Only the morass in the previous photo was described in several accounts but more of a small swamp or soggy ground.  We know that the Norman cavalry did not rush down William's slope charging across the divide at a gallop up to Harold's line.  Also, Harold's archers appear not to have been in great numbers because both William's cavalry, though armored with chain mail, got close enough at the walk to hurl their throwing weapons but not enough to break Harold's shield wall.  The fortunes of war turned in the late afternoon when Harold was struck down.

 

THESE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN IN SEPTEMBER 1991

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