Posts Tagged With: author nick austin

Crowhurst Manor Geophysics published

Crowhurst Manor Geophysics

The geophysics for the Crowhurst Manor site report by Archaeology South-East is published here. Please note the conservative nature of this document prepared for English Heritage. Having been involved in a number of different resistivity surveys over the last 26 years it confirms the presence of the foundations (as a minimum element) but also probably some substantial footings (due to the depth of the mound and the limited depth of the recording equipment). The high resistivity peaks appear to confirm a building in an east/west and north/south orientation where we know buttresses are present from the previous survey work done on the site, with walls and robbed out areas at least a meter thick. The real surprise is the lack of any low resistivity areas normally associated with ditches and the extent of the site covering an acre and certainly as big as the original Battle Abbey, all completely hidden from view.

The significance of this survey, for those unfamiliar with the background to this story, is there is written evidence in a Chronicle written at the time of the Invasion by the monks at Battle Abbey (the first 22 folios of the Chronicle of Battle Abbey published around 1180), that confirms the abbey that William ordered to be built on the site of the battlefield, was started next to a low wall at the bottom of the ridge that surrounds Hastings at a place called Herste. The monks then moved the Abbey a few years later to where it is today. This information has been ignored by historians because the building could never be found. Finding the foundations of the original abbey site confirms the site of the Battle of Hastings in the Crowhurst Valley. There can be no other interpretation of this information.

Those who want to process the raw data from this survey (which has not had the time spent on it that it should, due to lack of funding to date) can contact me and I will also make it freely available here when I have the time. This week is extremely busy with ITV today and You and Yours Radio Four lunch time Friday after the Sunday Times last weekend.

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Response to John Grehan Book

Issues raised by John Grehan
pdf available here
1 John Grehan says that the Crowhurst site is far too extensive to have been securely held by 7,000 – 10,000 men and they would not have been packed tightly together as the sources indicate.

John makes many assumptions in his book that are made upon the basis of what he thinks are reasonable assumptions, with the benefit of a lot of research and hindsight. No-one knows how many men were present at Hastings and whilst the field is very much bigger than the old traditional site at Battle Abbey it is confined on both sides unlike Battle Abbey. This means that it is a maximum of 500yards wide at the widest point and most of it is a lot less, meaning the line could be created and held very efficiently, as shown by the fact the battle lasted all day. Further there is evidence that Harold enclosed the field and we have identified those ditches, making the defence even greater than that supposed without it.

2 Crowhurst was more than 30 minutes by foot from where the abbey was eventually built, therefore it is unrealistic to imagine that the monks could possibly have walked such a distance to build their abbey when more suitable sites exist much closer to Crowhurst.

The location of the new abbey at the traditional site was chosen because the Chronicle of Battle Abbey tells us it was a more suitable place . The distance from the original site of the battle was not a consideration. The assumption that it was built on the battlefield was a false assumption created by the monks to support their forged charter.

3 Although it was four years after the battle that the monks arrived to start their abbey project, they must have had some information concerning the site and some evidence of a battle having been fought in the area between Caldbec Hill and Battle Hill must have still been present. No one could have got the place so badly wrong.

There is no exact date in the Chronicle to date this event when the Monk called Smith came over. It is believed to be at least 4 years and might be seven. The correct site was at Herste low down on the west side of the ridge (as the Norman Monks reported it to the King in the Chronicle of Battle Abbey supporting their claim for free wine and taxes). The assumption that this was hidden from those who built the abbey is a modern assumption if you do not have the information from the document written at the time and given to the King. The correct understanding was written by the monks who wrote the Chronicle of Battle Abbey and they tell us exactly where the abbey was started and where the battlefield was and then where it was moved to . This information is specific, the reason given why it was moved and designed to inform the king exactly because if they had lied about this information people did know and it would have been found out. The statement which was examined by the King at the time removes completely the possibility of Caldbec Hill being a possible battlefield site. There is a clear logic that states if the site was moved then William had no objection to this and the creation of the paragraph stated ‘as tradition ’ that William ordered it to be moved back is now understood to be one of the forged paragraphs which is illogical and clearly identifies the fraud, since it cannot have been a tradition because the monk who wrote the document identifies the extract as a record of the events of the time and not 180 years later.

4 In the Chronicle of Battle Abbey you choose to note that the battlefield site is called Herste, yet elsewhere in the Chronicle Crowhurst is referred to entirely separately as Croherste. Herste cannot therefore also be Croherste.

This does not take into account the way the Chronicle of Battle Abbey was constructed or why. It has to be understood that the document was written in two parts and bound together as one in order to support the monks case for free wine and taxes. The first section up to the end of folio 14 detail the witness events to the invasion and battle in the Crowhurst valley.

The Chronicle of Battle Abbey names Herste as the site of the battlefield and this is clearly a reference that has been taken from an eye witness account of the events of that time and referring to the monk named Smith and his companions who move the abbey from the original site at Herste . It is authentic information that is from the original source.

The references latter in the text to Crowhurst from the end of folio 14 onwards details the lands within the leuga as taken from the Kings Book – the Domesday Book, written in 1085/86 and the names of the manors used in the Chronicle are taken from that book. It is therefore wholly logical that the monk who wrote this would have written down what he was told as a spoken reference in one instance (Herste) but to have copied the elements relating to the Kings Book (Croherste) later, because he would have had a copy of the Kings Book information that would have the names he used later. He would not have known that the two places were the same and indeed the name is identified with the Kings Book in the same paragraph as the entries for Croherste .

5 Your Domesday Book argument about Crowhurst being laid waste whereas Battle was not, fails to take into account that at Battle at the time of the Domesday Survey the great monastery was being built, encouraging a rapid development of the area.

The Domesday evidence is specific and unchallengeable because it is hard data that cannot be changed. It recorded the values of all manors before the battle, at the battle and after the battle. The recovery rate for Battle is higher because at the time of the battle it did not lose all its value because it was not wasted. The assumption that it must have regained its value because it was built after that does not reflect the evidence that virtually no wastage took place there and is an unsustainable thesis. As a military historian must know when a battle takes place nothing is left at the time of the battle. The unsustainable element of the thesis is the assumption that those manors that were wasted were less likely to be the site of the battle than those that were totally wasted, whether Crowhurst or any other manor.

The value of Battle had a pre-invasion value of £48 and a value at the time of the battle of £30. No other manors in the Hastings Rape had a value higher than this at that time 90% were less. It is therefore unsustainable to claim the battle was held in the manor of Battle – called The Battle in the Domesday Book as part of the Monks deception. The data can support no other conclusion.

6 Pye’s Farm (where the English were drawn up) is simply too close to Wilting (Norman encampment) – only two miles – and William would never have waited passively a couple of miles away whilst Harold assembled a large army. Nor would Harold have contemplated such an operation.

Battles are not fought by logic as things happen that cannot be predicted. What is clear from my perspective, having read all the documents and looked at the site in question is that the story we have been passed by the Normans is not the whole story. This should be expected as the Normans would have sought to discredit the loser. Elements are alluded to in texts that the new battlefield support. Namely that Harold did not do what was expected of him.
The popular supposition is that Harold was rash by rushing down from Stamford Bridge to engage at the field at battle and consequently lost because he rushed.

The evidence as I see it shows that Harold rushed to Crowhurst because the manor was known to him personally and Edith Swanneck is certainly believed to have come from Crowhurst. He therefore knew that if he built a defence across the field at Pyes farm he had the Normans trapped. It was unique in that respect of the area around Hastings and an opportunity he would not let slip. We are told that the man who comes to Stamford Bridge reports to Harold ‘His Lord’ a feudal relationship with his lord of the manor and not his king.
People say well surely William would not have allowed himself to fall into such a trap. However William had a good view of the London road from his camp and he had men on horse able to attack any army that materialised before it could form.

Harold knew this and he arrived at dusk and immediately started the negotiation process. His arrival was a surprise. William even asks ‘where is the King’ and the negotiator answers – ‘You can see his standards’ . Wace also confirms the line of sight observations when the negotiations take place
It is clear to me having read Wace’s account and the comments of the various chroniclers that allude to Harold being of dubious honour that Harold used the negotiation time to buy the necessary time for his men to enclose the field in three place and put stakes across the field. Harold never intended to agree a deal and so he used to time to build his defence. That response was not expected by William and so they were forced to engage at light the next morning and the Norman cavalry were impotent against men standing with a wall in front of them and stakes as well as a three ditches. Harold had fought with William in France and knew exactly what to do.

Harold was smarter than they made out – all this detail will emerge when the correct battlefield is identified because the texts appear to confirm it. Pyes Farm is two miles from Wilting, but the track was probably only wide enough for a cart. It took three hours to move to the battlefield plain, because that is how long it takes to move 5,000 men with their armaments along a narrow track. Pyes Farm was the final defence and only accessed at the end of the battle. The main action was clearly fighting up a hill that rises 120meters and was defended well.

Lastly Johns claim that the battle must have been fought at Caldbec, because it is the only suitable hill in the area is unsustainable on two counts:

Firstly by far the biggest hill is the field at Crowhurst that rises 120meters dwarfing Caldbec by comparison and I have to agree the steep hill is one of the major defining factors because the battle could not be at Caldbec so it must be at Crowhurst.

Secondly the roads at the time confirm that once you have arrived at the Telham crossroads by Appletree field the Normans could have turned left to Lewis or right to Rye. Historians who have sought to claim the head of the peninsular was where Battle Abbey was located have not done their due diligence, because the old Roman Road to Beauport Park was in existence 600 years before and the network of smaller tracks exited the peninsular further south than Battle. If the battle was at Caldbec William could exit at two places because the main road forked to Rye and Lewis at a second point making the concept of confinement impossible. Consequently all of John Grehan’s points in his book, whilst logical are in my view thoroughly undermined by these issues when the matter is looked at in the context of the topography of this site. There are to my knowledge no documents written at the time that support Caldbec, whereas all those that we know of support the Crowhurst

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Sunday Telegraph 13th January p13

Noticeable in its absence is the fact that the Battlefields Trust were invited to look at the archeology but have not done so to date and neither have English Heritage.

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Old Port of Hastings photo

Old Port of Hastings at Combe Haven
Here is a picture, taken by Keith Piggott, of the area in the Combe Haven that was the old port of Hastings before the entrance was blocked by the great storm at the end of the 13th century. Those who do not believe this waterway was the port of Hastings should really think again. Would you leave your boats exposed to the sea when they could be in here? Photo taken from Hillcroft Farm.

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Bexhill talk sold out

Bexhill talk 7th December 2012
Talk at Bexhill last night went very well. Sold out I am told but of course it was free and I’m sure there was one empty seat:) At least we sold 30 books so that helped the campaign budget as the new book version came in about an hour before the talk

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Dragon head ditch located?

Original story here.
Battle Observer story
Thanks to Peter Pulman (age 74) who sold part of the recreation ground to Hastings Council) we have some detailed plans of the area where the dragon head longboat is located, together with the drainage ditches before the tip was built. Armed with the plan of the airport runways and the location of the end of the runway in relation to the ditches I am pretty sure we know which ditch it is that holds the longboat.

When the water recedes we will launch a digging team and get permission in the meantime from the Environment Agency who manage this area. Proof that the Normans were in this valley is close. Once we find the first we will ask permission from the minister to look for the rest. Then we will find them with or without Hastings Council help.

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Norman style boat found in Combe Haven

I had been told by several people that a Viking type boat with a large wooden head was found on the Combe Haven marsh after the war. All Norman boats are in the Viking style. However when I tried to locate proof I could not find it. Now Melian has located it through some good detective work and we are going to appeal in the press for witnesses, as the person who found it Charles Somerville is now dead. This evidence confirms we are close to getting what we need. I went down on the marsh today to look for the site, but unless we can establish which ditch is involved access is extremely tough. Good work Melian. Details here. I have a plan of the aerport on the marsh near the caravan park and Filsham pumping station, but no indication where the boat was found. It is possible that the ditch was filled when the recreation end was turned into the caravan park. Does anyone know who runs the caravan park as I would like to dowse there. The claim that there are no Norman boats in the Combe Haven is incorrect. East Sussex County Council politicians should wise up to understand that they will be removed from power if they continue with this road and the evidence for the Norman Invasion is delivered after they have built the road and destroyed the integrity of the site. The electorate will not forgive them. This is firm evidence they are not right to rely upon outdated information.

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Proof of the Normans evidence (video)

This is the evidence that the Normans landed in Crowhurst and fought in the Crowhurst valley This is the video of the talk at the White Rock Hotel last weekend on the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. It tells those who have little understanding of the issues in plain language what evidence there is that the Battle of Hastings was fought in the Crowhurst Valley and the Norman Invasion was in the same valley. I say in that presentation that it takes ten seconds to get to the truth and when you get it you will never see this issue in the same light. If you haven’t seen it please watch and pass on to those people who think the Norman Invasion was at Pevensey – take their money off them first with a bet – bet them you can prove the Normans didn’t land at Pevensey and take their money at the end:) – and share share share

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Spear and arrows in Blacksmiths Field Crowhurst

This email received this morning from Tony Atkins regarding the story in my book about the spears and arrows reported to be found at the back of the “plain” at Blacksmiths Field in Crowhurst – which I wrote off in the book because of insufficient evidence:

My name is Tony Atkins and I lived in Crowhurst from 1971 to 1981.I lived in Samson’s Lane in one of the modern semi-detached houses, the further of the two from the main road.
Having been interested generally in the history of the village I entered into many conversations with the” locals”about the background of the village.
I have lived in France for the last 10 years,but have UK television and South East To-day is still a favourite programme, to find out what is happening in the South East,so when the coverage of your research was broadcast, your book became a must on last years Xmas present list.Crowhurst has a special place in the hearts of my family,that is where my children went to school and grew up.

I have read your book with great interest, and after a lengthy discussion with Charles Pearce on Sunday 14th October, he suggested I should E mail you.

Page 185 of your book refers to spears having been found under the old barn at Blacksmiths Field .That they were mounted in a glass display case in the village hall,and that the village Policeman who found them had moved from the village to Bexhill.

The general content of these statements bears some truth to the facts, but is not totally accurate,compared to the information that was given to me.

I had an in-depth discussion with Reg Stocking( who lived in one of the Council Houses on Blacksmith’s field) in the mid seventies.He told me that the owner of one of the old cottages at the end of Samsons Lane was a Policeman who had dug the whole plot over to a depth of 3 feet and had extracted arrow heads and spear heads,which had been mounted in a glass display case.
The Policeman had by then moved to Havant. Reg gave me his address.

I was serving in the Royal Navy and travelling regularly between Portsmouth and Crowhurst at weekends,and although I left making the contact for some time, eventually found the time to visit the house and make my number.I explained to his “second” wife the reason for the visit,the glass display case and the artefacts etc.She in turn said she had no knowledge of the display case and suggested that the family were market traders and it could well have been traded on.She mentioned that her husband was terminally ill with cancer and there was no way of trying to ascertain what happened to the display case.I made my apologies and left.

The important point here is that a trace was made from Crowhurst to Havant.The Policeman’s name evades me now but the deeds of the cottage will show previous owners.

We never ever knew of a display case in the village hall while we lived in the village.We were frequent attenders at social events.

You will notice that I have CC: Lee Brown,(husband Keith),they too lived in Samsons lane at the same time as us.At odd times him and others helped Mike Willett with hay making.Mike farmed Lower Wilting Farm.Mike referred to his inability to cut the hay close to the ground because of continually pulling out the remains of posts which couldn’t be cut or burnt.

Mike now lives in Carmarthen and we still Xmas card each other.
Your research will have moved on considerably,and the content of this e mail may not be of much value now,but perhaps you can gleen something useful from it’s content.

I enjoyed reading the book,and can only suggest that you must grab the Establishment by the scruff of it’s neck and keep shaking until it submits to common sense.I would like to keep up with your progress.

Best regards,
Tony Atkins

Thanks Tony – it appears the evidence of the spears is in essence correct but at a depth of 3feet – which would fit with the slope wash problem on the bottom “plain” by the lower Malfosse. Nick

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Is the Bexhill Link Road going through the UK’s most important battlefield?

With all the recent news surrounding the excavation of Richard III in a Leicester social services car park, one is given to wonder what exactly galvanises the interest of academics and the public these days. How about the smouldering controversy over that most famous date in English history, 1066? Could it be that most of what we thought we knew about the Norman landings and subsequent battle is wrong?

Could it be that Harold and William have unfinished business, not with each other this time, but with East Sussex County Council and their road-planning department?

It’s time to do something because we care.

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