1066 BATTLE OF HASTINGS BATTLEFIELD RE-PRESENTED FOR 950TH ANNIVERSARY

Visitors next summer to the Battle of Hastings battlefield will – for the first time – be able to get a bird’s-eye-view of the landscape on which the most famous battle on English soil was fought, English Heritage announced today. As part of its re-presentation of the 1066 site, English Heritage will open up the roof of the Great Gatehouse of William the Conqueror’s abbey – founded where King Harold died – giving visitors a whole new perspective on arguably the most important battle in English history.

The Great Gatehouse of Battle Abbey, built on the site of the Battle of Hastings

The Great Gatehouse of Battle Abbey, built on the site of the Battle of Hastings

A new exhibition inside the Great Gatehouse will explore the lead up, location and legacy of the battle including a blow by blow account of the day itself, from dawn to dusk.  New interpretation will also be installed in the visitor centre and across the battlefield.

The project is just one part of English Heritage’s programme – ‘1066: Year of the Normans’ – to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings next year.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “The Battle of Hastings was a decisive hinge on which English history turned, defining the country’s political, social and geographical landscape for centuries to come. English Heritage will mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest with an exciting programme of events and activities throughout the year. Central to this will be our re-presentation of the most famous battlefield in England.”

Property Curator Roy Porter examines the roof of the Great Gatehouse at Battle Abbey.

Property Curator Roy Porter examines the roof of the Great Gatehouse at Battle Abbey.

English Heritage’s conservation team will soon start work on the Great Gatehouse, one of the most significant examples of its type in England, combining both early Norman and 14th-Century architectural features. Repairs are being made to the masonry, ensuring the turrets and roof are both wind and weather tight to protect the interiors and enable visitors to stand on the roof.  Early investigations have already uncovered two forgotten staircases, leading up to rooms high up within the gatehouse’s turrets. The use of these remains a mystery to curators – possibly secure treasuries – but will be subject to further research that may shed new light on later uses of the building.

This year’s re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings will take place on Saturday 10 & Sunday 11 October. For more details about it and 1066 Battle of Hastings, Abbey and Battlefield, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/battleabbey

For news of English Heritage and its ‘1066: Year of the Normans’ programme, follow English Heritage on twitter @EnglishHeritage or visit our website, www.english-heritage.org.uk

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