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SX20 - Battle Abbey

A cache by Sussex 2020 Committee Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : Thursday, 06 August 2020
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size: other (other)

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Geocache Description:

06 August 2020, 10:00 - 13:00

The Sussex Mega Team are delighted
to welcome you to

Battle Abbey


has granted us free access to Battle Abbey and Battlefield for this event
Date: Thursday 6th August 2020
Time: 10:00 - 13:00
Entrance: Please access the site via the side gate which will be manned by a Mega Maker (see waypoint below).
Meeting Point: Adjacent to the Harold Stone.
Exit: After the event please leave the site via the Shop.


Hi, my name is - or was - Harold (not to be confused with any other Harald’s that might be mentioned here). I was born in about 1020 and I’m King Edward the Confessor’s brother-in-law. This is my story. Sort of.

The king is dead, long live the king!

In 1065, poor old Eddie had lapsed into a coma and hadn’t named his successor. He had no sons of his own and had no surviving brothers (any speculation that my father was involved in Alfred’s death in 1036 is coincidental and I will deny all involvement). Eddie passed away on 5 January 1066 having remarkably “come to” just long enough to suggest that I look after the country. The Witan, or King’s council, discussed this and agreed that I should succeed as King of England (result!). As it was Epiphany and all of the big wigs were in London already, I didn’t hang about and was crowned on 6 January 1066 at Westminster Abbey (GC4858G Church Micro 4000 - London Westminster Abbey).
Meanwhile in Northwest France, Guillaume le Bâtard, Duke of Normandy, had heard of my brother-in-law’s demise and thought: “I know what - I quite like the look of that land across the channel. If I get an army together, I can take the English crown”. So off he went to get the backing of the church. At first, they refused to back him. It wasn’t until he told them some lies about me that they changed their minds.

Preparing for war

Guillaume built a fleet of 700 ships - a project so big it couldn’t be kept secret so I got to hear about it! In preparation for the attack, I gathered my own army together and headed down to the Isle of Wight to wait for them. That summer we had quite a few storms, and after waiting and waiting for the Normans to visit on 8 September, I told my folks to go home and help with the harvest as our provisions were running low. We could’ve been hanging around forever!
So, the troops go home and what should happen next? That pesky brother of mine Tostig Godwinson along with the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada attacked Northumbria and Mercia! Despite being heavily outnumbered the Earls of Mercia and Northumbria, with their lads, fought hard. Sadly, they lost the Battle of Fulford on 20 September 1066 so I had to round up my folks to head north.
On 26 September 1066 at a long-forgotten place called Stamford Bridge, I met with Harald and Tostig (GC2MDYZ Battle of Stamford Bridge). Well, met isn’t the right word. I did offer my brother 6 feet of English ground if he were to turn on Hardrada… which he did go away to think about. I guess he wanted more because it wasn’t long before a battle ensued with very heavy casualties on both sides. I’m pleased to say that neither Tostig, Harald, nor the rest of the Norwegians will be troubling me in the future!

Things start to go south

With my crown defended you’d think I’d have time to celebrate, but no. Guillaume had crossed the channel and set up camp in Pevensey on 28 September, before starting to establish a castle at Hastings (GC7BA2T Hastings Old Town History Tour). So, I had no option but to head south with (what was left) of my army and see if I could recruit some farmers and labourers on my way to Sussex.
On 13 October 1066 I camped at Caldbec Hill (which now overlooks the town of Battle (GC26Y82 King Harold's Camp (Battle, Hastings)) on the eve of the battle to defend my crown. The following day, we moved down to where Battle Abbey now stands, and looked across the Senlac Field to see Guillaume’s forces amassed on the opposite ridge (GC26Y8E 1066, Battle of Hastings (Battle, Hastings)).

The part where I took one to the eye – or did I?

While I’d been marching south with my tired and depleted forces, Guillaume had been training his forces by raiding along the coast. He’d also brought with him an impressive cavalry; mine was non-existent following Stamford Bridge. Since the bottom of Senlac Field was marshland at the time, in hindsight I should’ve kept my lads back on the higher ground and not gotten sucked into attacking back. With volleys from their archers and attacks by their cavalry, we were doomed to failure.
Some say I took an arrow in the eye, others suggest that I was dismembered; all I know is that I didn’t survive. The spot where I fell is now marked by a stone slab in the Battle Abbey grounds. My body may, or may not, be buried in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Bosham (GC5RF4K Church Micro 7684 …Bosham - Holy Trinity). Still, I remain the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.

What did the Normans do next?

Of course, Guillaume is better known these days as William the Conqueror. I hear you ask “What have the Normans done for us?”. In hindsight, I’m impressed by the wonderful Norman stone churches that are now dotted around the English countryside (Many of which are featured in the Church Micro series).
In 1070, the Pope ordered the Normans to do penance for killing so many people during their conquest of England. So, William vowed to build an abbey where the battle had taken place, with the high altar of its church on the spot where I fell on Saturday, 14 October 1066 (GC281HC Church Micro 1066...Battle Abbey).
Sadly, much of the Abbey was virtually destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538 under King Henry VIII.

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