Having been told on a number of occasions the Battle of Hastings flawed site at Battle Abbey was to be reviewed. I have now been forwarded the review document by Michael Bernard, which clearly shows they have in colloquial terms bottled it and will not review the evidence, or the site claimed in Crowhurst. This is despite national television by authorised archaeologists, which showed the nation in no uncertain terms there is no archaeology supporting the battle anywhere within the registered battlefield area. I was not consulted by any historians, or archaeologists on any evidence referred to in this document, where I can see some serious flaws in what it is claimed that I claim. It makes a nonsense of the listing process. Rest assured this is not the end of the story, as evidence is still being sought in the Crowhurst valley, by people who do care about the nations heritage and we are close to a conclusion.
The Time Team programme which sought to identify the Battle of Hastings was repeated on More Four this evening and it is clear from the presentation that Richard Kemp the military expert rolled out by the Time Team to support their crass supposition that the battlefield was at Battle Abbey near the roundabout had not been informed of the evidence confirming the correct battlefield at Crowhurst or its topographical connection (including LIDAR evidence) to the port and special circumstances that forced the battle to last all day. Not only was due diligence not undertaken but Richard Kemp, who is an outstanding military commander, was effectively missinformed before producing his statements on UK national television. English Heritage has I am told instructed Time Team not to allow my evidence to be presented to third parties. Col. Kemp had not evaluated the military significance of the Crowhurst site compared to the one claimed by both British Heritage and the Time Team on a like for like basis and clearly there was an intention to avoid this.
I have tried to contact Mr Kemp and would like him to evaluate Crowhurst in the context of the known reports for the battle using his military expertise. John Grehan who wrote his book is also a military historian and its quite clear to me that military historians and experts hold the clues to identifying the correct site. If anyone has an address I would be pleased to send him my book so he can understand what is at stake and the importance of establishing the most important battlefield in English history which everyone now knows is not at Battle Abbey or Caldbeck Hill.
A copy of a planning document proposing that Hastings Council use the heritage land on the lower fields at Upper Wilting Farm that is not part of the link road development to bury the rest of this potential world heritage site under a wind farm development (this is economic nonsense as the area is below the tip level and an excuse to authorise housing development as the next phase). It really beggars belief that having established the archaeology on this site is so massive that someone believes they can now use the land to destroy the integrity of the rest of the Upper Wilting site. We have been told that this land has archaeology going back to the Iron Age that may change our understanding of the history of the area (recent BBC article using information from the County Archaeologist office) but it doesnt matter to our elected representatives because they dont care about the heritage of this country or valley. I wonder if it is our MPs who are pushing this forward like they did the link road or is there some financial gain set for Hastings. This land is in Rother. Someone needs to look into this. Having built the Gypsy park which now houses a French workforce who arent allowed to mix with local people there are plans now to put the rest of Wilting under concrete. Lets find out who is responsible for this and deal with them at election time if they have any democratic accountability. We need to know what is going on and who is initiating this so we can get organised and deal with them as its time to stop this rot.
Here is the correspondence with English Heritage. I request information is made available to those who are adjudicating the application that Battle Abbey field in front of the Abbey where Dr Foard conducted his Time Team evaluation, which is currently listed as a protected battlefield, is delisted if the battle took place somewhere else. This blog is well read I am sure these comments will not go unnoticed, as this is starting to look remarkably as if someone at English Heritage has used their position of influence to tilt the story in their favour, otherwise there would be no reason to lie, and lie it certainly appears to be. I know this because I asked Time Team’s Alex Lawson why I was lied to by Time Team and he confirms the lie in writing only for English Heritage to now deny their involvement. I have waited till after Christmas to deal with this and have been waiting for English Heritage to respond.
Alex had no reason to lie to me because it was a condition of the filming – as simple as that. The response that the decision was made by the producers of the show does not mean English Heritage have no responsibility if it was a condition they imposed upon those producers – which clearly it was. I work in television and I and anyone else can see exactly who did what so please pass this information on to the relevant authority English Heritage administration, to those responsible for getting a proper evaluation of the Abbey and Crowhurst sites, since partiality cannot be hidden so easily. This response appears to confirm the partiality of an organisation prepared to stop at nothing to avoid looking at the archaeology in the Crowhurst Valley. The monks lied about the site and now we have our own Heritage organisation, charged with evaluating that lie, imposing a restriction that meant the shows producers had to lie to me – and now they deny it because I have found out about it. Whatever the result of the so called battlefield evaluation this story is continuing to run as independent archaeologists will now start the work in the Crowhurst Valley soon – stay tuned – details will be published shortly.
I am sorry that this issue has had to become public. The reason is English Heritage’s official denial of the facts as detailed in this correspondence. They knew they did it and have tried to palm off the truth on the shows producers – bad decision – Time Team dont lie unless they are forced to.
My original email to Alex Rowson:
Sent: 24 November 2013 21:36
To: Alex Rowson
Subject: Battle of Hastings lies and truth
I read this with interest Alex:
Tony Robinson gives the history books one in the eye by discovering where the Battle of Hastings was really fought. The battle is the most famous in English history but not a single bit of archaeological evidence for it has ever been found. Have historians put the battlefield in the wrong place?
Time Team set themselves the task of uncovering the true location of England’s most famous defeat.
For decades there has been dispute over the site, even though Battle Abbey is supposed to stand exactly where Harold fell. In 2012 a bestseller claimed that Caldbec Hill, a mile away, was the real site. But most historians still believe the main focus of the fighting was in the fields below the Abbey.
Time Team excavate both sites to seek evidence of either one being a battlefield.
Digging alone is inconclusive. But a cutting edge aerial technology called LIDAR to map the terrain proves that the traditional battlefield would have been too boggy for William’s Norman cavalry.
So military analysts study the data to see where Harold, a skilled commander, would most likely have mounted his defence against William’s invading army.
They identify the only ideal battlefield. It seems Harold’s fearsome Saxon shield wall straddled a narrow strategic pass that is on today’s A2100.
It leads to a surprising conclusion about where the heart of the battle was fought, and why William won and Harold lost.
Well done, you must have seriously hit problems to have come up with the solution you think you have found. Strange I was told by you that no archaeology was going to be done.. Why did you do that if it wasn’t true? The above is part of the official press release. I gave you access to everything and you have now delivered the story that the Battle of Hastings is not at Battle Abbey – well done again but it wont help those who put you up to this. I understand that and so will the world, which of course delivers the story into my hands for the next programme currently being planned.
But I have to ask why lie to me I don’t understand that and would like to know because you misled me and I appeared on your programme because of that and don’t understand what was to be gained from not telling me the truth. Are you going to provide an explanation please? I would like to know. As you know I am very media savvy and don’t like to be lied to in order to get my co-operation but have quite broad shoulders.
I have tapes of our conversations so I need a response otherwise this issue will become public.
The following Day Alex replies:
On 25 November 2013 10:52, Alex Rowson wrote:
Good to hear from you! Apologies for my tardy reply, I have now left Time Team and only check my emails every other week.
Yes the 1066 programme has been confirmed for this Sunday, a TX card will be sent out from the office to all contributors with further details. I have yet to see the fully finished film so i’m as keen as anyone to see the end result!
Please accept my apologies for not telling you about the dig. It was decided before any work took place that we should keep it secret. EH and Time Team felt that this was a sensible approach and would negate press or visitor interruptions. Most people in Battle and indeed visitors to the site didn’t realise that the work was going on! This is also Time Team’s normal policy with many of its digs, as we have to respect the wishes of the landowners and the academics who carry out the work. However I will say that the work we completed was only a pilot sample of the area, and I really hope that EH will expand the work in the future and make it more accessible to the public.
During the programme it was our aim to look at all the theories surrounding the location of the battlefield of Hastings, giving each a fair and equal platform to present the archaeological evidence, which I believe we have achieved. We have also tried to add something new to the debate with a limited sample of fieldwork and a recent aerial LiDAR survey at Battle.
Time Team have evaluated the evidence and presented their own independent conclusions. It is not mean’t to be definitive and we are keen to encourage future archaeological work in order to help find more evidence for the events of Oct 1066.
We really are incredibly grateful for all your help, and hope that our involvement will go some way to raising the public’s awareness as to the battlefield debate. I remain fascinated by your theories and I wish you all the best with your future investigations.
Nick Astin further email Sent: 25 November 2013 11:04
To: Alex Rowson
Subject: Re: Battle of Hastings lies and truth
OK Alex thanks but it does really look this end like we have been done over in the Crowhurst valley for the time being and a magnificent opportunity missed. Having done the archaeology on the battlefield its now clear that my thesis that the battlefield was not at Battle is correct and the Chronicle of Battle Abbey is an authentic document. It also tells us where the Normans camped at the port and thats now looking very close to confirmation again thanks to LIDAR.
I still dont understand why having got agreement amongst the experts that it could not have been fought at Battle the site at Crowhurst was rejected in the face of there being claimed archaeology that was not looked at whereas there is none in Battle or John Grehan site – that doesnt really stack up as normal practice to look somewhere else does it:)
Alex final word This is all before the programme ran
On 25 November 2013 11:24, Alex Rowson wrote:
It is a fascinating subject and I think the clear message that comes out of the programme is just how difficult it is to find preserved battlefield archaeology from this time.
We felt that LiDAR analysis might be able to add something new to the debate and this was undertaken by an independent landscape archaeologist. However as you point out, without archaeological evidence to back it up it is still just speculative. The plot thickens as they say.
All the best,
My letter to English Heritage
Sent: 13 January 2014 18:27
To: Pearson, Lorraine
Subject: Re: English Heritage
The documents that you refer to are completely inadequate in terms of analysis of the battlefield because the ones quoted have made assumptions not supported by any documents written at the time of the Battle. If they were to rely upon the documents of the time they would identify the Malfosse on or next to the battlefield – indeed none do and all established historians accept the absence of this major feature without explanation or justification. The assumptions you refer to which are well out of date with current thinking are therefore supposition, based upon a false theory that cannot be proven unless archaeology confirms it. The archaeology now done by Dr Foard and his team shows the cavalry could not have used the current protected battlefield and it therefore no longer needs protection. There is no justification for protecting a field that could not have featured in the battlefield action and that has been accepted by the archaeologists as a major error for those who have in the past accepted that it could.
The recent archaeology undertaken by English Heritage proves conclusively these assumptions from past historians are false. You cannot quote documents from the recent past (last 200years) to support the battlefield at Battle without archaeology when archaeology has proven the battlefield to be elsewhere other than the place Dr Foard looked. History is confirmed by archaeology and until so it is just theory. Many theories exist and become dust when proven to be incorrect. You are quoting dust and old thinking. (intentionally with-held).
Until it was known that there is no archaeology to support the battlefield theory at Battle Abbey and the LIDAR confirmed the ground was too boggy for Norman cavalry everyone assumed the story passed down by the monks was correct. It is highly foolish to quote sources who have been shown to make false assumption in the past, because those who are shown to be incorrect are not likely to be right in other matters. None can explain why the Normans were able to see the Saxon camp on the night of the battle yet two sources at the time confirm this visual observation. Everything points to conclusions that are completely wrong in recent years. Repeating the claims does not mean they now remain to be correct. Your response is therefore completely inadequate.
The recent Time Team work undertaken at Battle Abbey has shown English Heritage have sought to influence the producers ability to work independently and even handily and shows bias. The claim of bias against English Heritage now stands confirmed. This is because I was seriously misled by the shows producers who tell me that English Heritage instructed them that the archaeological investigations at Battle Abbey must remain secret from me when I had been asked to appear on the programme to show my work and the evidence in the Crowhurst valley. I was told by the producers that there was to be a desk top study of the three sites and the Crowhurst Battlefield site was to be compared with the two other sites without any archaeology taking place at any of the sites.
The producers then recorded three days filming with me and I was expecting a further day which never materialised. I then found out at broadcast that an attempt was made to discredit me and my work on film by showing only one element of the Crowhurst battlefield. It was a disgracefully inept attempt to blacken me by associating my work with dowsing, when none of the material relevant to the Crowhurst battlefield relies upon dowsing. One element was taken out of context and the minute or so of exposure for the Crowhurst Battlefield showed the public that something was wrong. Taken in the broader sense the show made the claim there were three claims for the battlefield at the Battle of Hastings. Two had no archaeology to back them up and the one that claimed there was a lot of archaeology was not going to be looked at. Kick me if I’m being stupid but this is not what the Time Team have ever done on any other show so please explain 1) why I was not told the truth and 2) why no archaeology was allowed to take place where it was claimed to exist on the Crowhurst battlefield and lastly 3) why the show was not allowed to film the Malfosse in Crowhurst which is a unique feature of the site of the Battle of Hastings in most accounts at the time and only exists at the Crowhurst site.
I have an email from the Time Team director confirming that I was misled and now I believe this should be known to those who are responsible for adjudicating on the Battle of Hastings site. There is no reason for me to be misled or for any issues to be secret in this matter because it is national heritage that is at stake. The fact that someone at English Heritage conspired to mislead me in order to avoid investigation of the Crowhurst archaeology shows something seriously wrong in the English Heritage evaluation process. The end result of failing to investigate the Crowhurst battlefield was to send the message to the nation that the only site with claimed archaeology was not looked at – you now need to explain why? this is neither logical or in the interests of historical truth and those who were most damaged by this action are suffering from complete failure to prove the Battle Abbey site. Indeed I cannot see anyone next year attending the English Heritage site because now it is known to be false by almost everyone in the country.
I do not want this matter to rest here. I want some sort of explanation from English Heritage as to what happened and who was responsible for interfering in the production of this programme. The conclusion that the Battle of Hastings was probably held on the roundabout has no authentic historian showing himself on television to agree such a mad supposition. There is no-one I know prepared to go on television and support this nonsense and writing to me quoting the sources you have to promote the idea is plainly laughable.
Answers are required and I have copied my MP and Michael Bernard as this is serious. It is one thing to make a mistake, but its another completely to try to cover your actions by implementing television coverage based upon misrepresentation of the facts. Misrepresentation has happened and now I would like to know why. The producers blame you and this means that English Heritage have deliberately sought to mislead me and in so doing have misled the public on national television. It is not right for a public heritage organisation to be partial in this way and use its position to mislead the public through national television, using a third party producer whom they control through secret instructions, as result of having a long term working relationship with them.
English Heritage’s reponse:
On 23 January 2014 09:42, Champion, Dawn wrote:
Dear Mr Austin,
Our Customer Services department has passed on your email of 13th January 2014 for my attention. I can confirm that there is no truth to your allegations of a secret deal with Time Team.
The editorial decisions were made independently by the programme makers.
The evaluation on English Heritage land was not kept secret: visitors to the site were told about it and English Heritage staff and Time Team archaeologists answered questions from the public on site. We did not and would not seek to influence any decisions regarding filming in any other locations.
Over a number of years your views regarding the issue of the location of the Battle of Hastings have been represented to us and noted.
As you are aware English Heritage is already considering a review of the battlefield site following your application.
We therefore have no further comment to make regarding this matter.
More details of previous story delivered locally all editions. The reasons given for the delisting application are exactly the same as those given by English Heritage to refuse the Crowhurst site in accordance with their required specifications published in their Battlefield Designation Document, with substantially more substance (if you dont believe me read it). Now you tell me how Battle Abbey can be justifiably protected by statutory protection in the current circumstances with the information available to us today (no archaeology and a document written at the time that names the site in Crowhurst). As detailed in my video the evidence must be produced and it should be produced in public (not in secret with secret metal detector investigations like last year). We have already had a number of attempts to avoid looking at the evidence lets be clear about that and someone is responsible for that. The town of Battle needs an answer and it needs it now before the tourism industry in our area is delivered a death blow. 1066 Country is nothing without a battlefield and it is the responsibility of our national heritage organisation to find it where ever it is and not to sit on their history books mismanaging the economics of the area. Lets see more action and action now, not when the damage has been done.
Its a simple observation that more archaeology is required as the cat is out of the bag at Battle Abbey. The story that there is no archaeology to support the site of the Battle of Hastings at Battle has long been known by professional historians. Now we have a serious issue that has arisen in that the town of Battle relies upon tourists to visit it. The conclusions that were reached by Time Team might just have been reached because the archaeologists looked in the wrong place, irrespective of what the evidence my followers have put in front of English Heritage believe. Secret digs are not the answer but open and honest accountability. Consequently Dr Foard and his team have to come back pretty quickly because English Heritage have a duty to the town to look until they find what they believe is there. Lets make the dig public like all Time Team programmes except this one. If the battlefield is at Crowhurst, as we have shown the evidence suggest, there is a duty to look at that too and not leave Battle in an unmanaged mess that can be avoided with some proper long term thinking (something we don’t see in government institutions very often). Let us hope common sense prevails as its bad news at the moment for Battle as there is no clarity. The absence of evidence will lead to delisting unless more evidence can be found .
6th December 2013
I have been asked to give my response to the Time team programme. After due consideration:
It has been filed with English Heritage in accordance with the statutory provisions. A copy can be seen online if you have an English Heritage account or register with them at their web site.
It is the only appropriate response in the circumstances and overdue by twenty six years.
This story will get national airing on Channel Four at peak time Sunday 1st December at 8pm. This story is probably the biggest history story to hit academic circles this century because the implications upon everyone who has ever written on the subject are immense. Indeed recently I was accused of being a lone voice against 500 academics determined to stop this story in its tracks.
Tony Robinson and his team have been down to Battle Abbey to get the evidence that the Normans fought there.
To find out what he found out watch the show and draw your own conclusions. Its a story that will not die. I am in that story and we will not quit until it reaches conclusion. This Spring we will be carrying out a systematic search for Norman pottery at the newly discovered castle site where French sources tell us the Normans were commissioned by William for two years after the Battle at the port of Hastings at Wilting Manor. Once the pottery is found we will do the geophysics and bring the Invasion site to a conclusion by finding the boats we know are there. Like Richard the Third sometimes it takes time and patience to get the right people involved before proper investigation can take place by archaeologists. Documents are open to interpretation. Only archaeology can close this story where the documents fit the geography and topography with artefacts and evidence out of the ground to back up the claims. The claim that the Battle of Hastings was at Battle Abbey has none of these essential features and hopefully Time Team have found that essential fact out and will tell us next weekend. I must remain an optimist:)
As a result of the LIDAR and historical documents we now have an absolute location for the site of the Norman fort which we are told William garrisoned his men for two years after the Battle of Hastings (French sources). We need to do geophysics on this site and the adjacent shore line to see if we can locate the boats which the Bayeux Tapestry tell us were beached in rows at the port site.
We have known this for some time but now need to locate University or student assistance where the work can be part of a documented project that can probably earn the people involved a phd, if not worldwide fame, if we locate the Invasion fleet.
We are a group of 190 people who can do all the donkey work. We just need some experts in geophys (magnetometry to start with) who have the equipment to guide us through the work and deliver the data to be processed. I personally have over six months resistivity experience and cannot imagine magnetometry is any more difficult to execute on the site. However this is a very large site and needs time from dedicated people to do it – we have those people in our group. If anyone knows who would oversee this work and provide the equipment please let me know at the contact details. It would cost someone who has the equipment nothing to do the work and they get the glory:) and if nothing is found nothing is lost BUT the fleet is there because the documents tell us its there. Put the word out lets get this finished its been going on too long.