Posts Tagged With: burgh of hastings

Discovery of lost Hastings Burgh confirms Norman Invasion site.

A copy of an email was sent to me today which was sent to English Heritage – names withheld:
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Regarding the site at Upper Wilting.

There have been various claims that the Upper Wilting site was an important historical military encampment; where William camped prior to the Battle of Hastings. Previous English Heritage (EH) evaluations have cited a lack of documentary or physical evidence in respect of these claims. Consequently, EH have not objected to the development of the site. However, I have recently come across some other documentary and physical evidence relating to the history of the site. I believe these issues warrant proper, qualified consideration before the Upper Wilting site is destroyed.

It has always been assumed the Hastings Burghal Hidage Fort was at the same location as where Hastings Castle was subsequently built (see first – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/burghalhidage/hidage). However, the Burghal Hidage Fort pre-dated the Norman Conquest and was built for very different reasons to Hastings Castle. It could have been elsewhere.

There is little disagreement that the location of Hastings prior to the conquest was vague, and the various local villages and communities were either destroyed or displaced during the conquest. Hastings Castle was built along with the “New Burg” of Hastings, as established by the Normans post 1066 (Ref History of Hastings Castle, Dawson, 1909 and other books concerning the Norman Conquest). The Castle was built to protect the newly formed Norman community and to subjugate the local population. However, the Burghal Hidage Fort system was built to protect southern England from seaborne Viking raiders.

“New” Hastings has never had a port. To this day, the fishing fleet uses the beach. The main pre-conquest port location (for trade) was at Bulverhythe, some distance along the coast (Ref various books, mostly those concerning Roman and Saxon Iron Industry in the Weald). The Upper Wilting site overlooks and tactically commands the Bulverhythe area and Coombe Haven. Furthermore, Upper Wilting is located right on the end of the Roman/Saxon era main London road (at Green Street) and thus provides strategic protection for the region. Hence, the Upper Wilting site provides excellent strategic and tactical protection. Conversely, Hastings Castle is located several miles away, has no view of the Bulverhythe port or related inlet area and is nowhere near the Saxon era main London road. The Hastings Castle site provides no physical protection, whether tactical or strategic, from seaborne raiders.

Hastings Castle was not built (whether built from scratch or re-built from a prior encampment or fortification) until well after the Conquest. During this interval, and even after the castle had been built, soldiers charged with defending the East Sussex coastline resided at Wilting (Ref Fines of Henry IV part II, Edward II part II, History of Hastings Castle, Chronicle of Iolm Harding &etc ). This further suggests Wilting was used as a preferred location from which the local coastline and ports could be protected.

But of greatest significance; I have compared the size of the Upper Wilting site with the size of the Burghal Hidage Fort recorded for Hastings. The size correlates very well. Conversely, the size of the site at Hastings Castle does not correlate at all.

I suspect Upper Wilting is considerably more likely than Hastings Castle to be the site of the Burghal Hidage Fort for the Hastings area. This can easily be confirmed with a straightforward, formal assessment of the Burghal Hidage lists – Saxon era documents. If my assessments were confirmed, it would provide both documentary and physical evidence, all of which is completely independent of the controversy surrounding 1066.

Regardless of theories put forward regarding the Norman Conquest for Upper Wilting; a Burghal Hidage Fort location would be a significant historical site worthy of protection. Contemporary Documentary evidence (pre and post conquest) exists and physical assessment is both straightforward and presently possible.

May I request this possibility urgently be properly assessed before the Upper Wilting site is destroyed in the very near future (I believe the bulldozers start next week).

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The significance of this information is the confirmation in the Crowhurst Parish records that the Lord of Crowhurst Manor, who had the family name Pelham, lived at the Burgh where the coastal defense was located at Wilting.

This document supports the understanding that falls into place when the true site is known

This in turn confirms Wilting as the correct pre-conquest location for Hastings, which was recorded and known to be at the same port.

This means the evidence given at the public inquiries (two of them) claiming there was no town, or port, at Wilting or any defenses at Wilting is shown to be completely flawed. The public inquires were prejudiced by false information provided by so called paid experts appearing for the road builders. The road being built through the center of the Old Burgh of Hastings should now be halted until this matter is investigated properly, before any permanent damage is done to the Wilting site.

Wilting is now confirmed by clear and accurate historical record as the site of the Norman Invasion where William the Conqueror is recorded to have camped on the night of the battle. It is part of a much larger site currently claimed to warrant World Heritage Status. This document fills a critical gap in the written record and is conclusive. The Carmen tells us there was a fort at the invasion site which was reinstated when the Normans arrived. We now know that reference was specifically to the Saxon Burghal Hideage Fort at Wilting Manor. Action is required and the minister must intervene before it is too late. A video will be posted later of the damage to the fort site as it stands this afternoon.

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