Posts Tagged With: secrets of the norman invasion

English Heritage confirm Hastings Battlefield in the wrong place.

Well thats a turn up for the books. English Heritage historian Roy Porter admits to the Guardian “The one place we know the armies weren’t is the low ground below the abbey, where most visitors understandably think the battle must have been fought” The Guardian adds ‘To add to the confusion, the annual recreation by costumed reenactors, which will be fought with increased fervour in October, is held in the wrong place, since the town and abbey ruins occupy the true site.

Its a step in the right direction as there is no more evidence in the town or the abbey site than the place we have been told for 940 years was the battlefield. Well done Mr Porter for coming clean on an issue that was getting more and more difficult to deal with in historical and not to mention archaeological terms now we know the truth of the matter. Now lets get the issue sorted properly with a proper investigation of the Manor site in Crowhurst. Lets put behind us the errors of the past since we have suffered the illusion that the so called battlefield was the right site for too long. Perhaps someone from English Heritage might now consider after five years of invitations to come to Crowhurst to look at what is here.

Nick Austin

nick at

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Caen stone identified at Crowhurst Manor confirms Norman construction on site of abbey foundations

The stone for the building at the manor house site in Crowhurst has been identified by the author Alan Gillet in his 1989 book Battle and Robertsbridge Old Photos.

A copy of the reference relevant page was kindly sent to me by Cordelia Silver. Cordelia says “Caen stone is a limestone, harder than our local sandstone, yet carveable. Battle Abbey has some Caen stone in the building, but according to British History on-line, most of the stone was quarried locally.”

Alan Gillet book Battle and Robertsbridge Old Photos

The significance is that Caen stone was usually used in great buildings built by the Normans, usually upon the instructions of the King, at the time of the Conquest. The primary use was Canterbury Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral and the Tower of London and a relatively small amount at Battle Abbey. The confirmation of Caen stone on this site in Crowhurst is good solid evidence of Norman involvement in the construction.

I am in the process of getting confirmation from a stonemason source and am waiting to hear from Canterbury Cathedral where they have a team working on Caen Stone. Hopefully they will be able to assist. Clearly this reference is not to what is below ground and relates to those stones that were probably robbed out at the time of the building of the current ruin (estimated to be 1220AD).

I am sending this evidence to English Heritage who must take this into account when they review the battlefield application. The presence of Caen stone indicates Norman construction or re-use of Norman stonework re-used in the Manor House construction and would confirm why the Norman arches are present in the wall previously misidentified as 13th century by W.S.Walford in 1884 and appears to confirm Norman construction, as only the Normans had access to this building material in this early period of History. It is possibly significant that the other site in the area which has Norman Caen stone elements is the Church in the Wood Hollington – the nearest church to the Manor House and Wilting Manor where the Normans landed.

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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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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:
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 – 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).

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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National broadcaster to investigate Battle of Hastings

I have it on very good authority that a national broadcaster has commissioned a one hour special to investigate the claim that the Battle of Hastings battlefield is in the wrong place. I am also told that it will involve active archaeological investigations of the claimed battlefield. The failure of English Heritage to investigate properly the correct site in Crowhurst has been a major concern to the people who have been involved in the archaeological investigations in the Crowhurst Valley I know that. Since this is the only place where any archaeology relating to the Battle of Hastings can be found we can expect to hear more soon. This is good news for those who have fought so hard to get my claims looked at. A verdict delivered on national television, most probably at peak time on a Sunday evening, will deliver the killer blow to the careers of those who have issues those false press releases stating all my claims have been investigated at the previous public inquiries – roll on the Autumn. Can I hear the ghost of 5,000 Englishmen shouting a “hooray” echoing around the Crowhurst Valley? Some things you cannot stop.

Note: I shall not be providing the name of the production company for obvious reasons as I do not want our political friends interfering in the democratic process for their own ends so please don’t ask just speculate.

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Crowhurst Manor House report

This is a video of the Crowhurst Manor House site where we will shortly be doing a full resistivity survey.

The video can be found at this link

The manor house may in the course of time be the proof of the battlefield. If we are correct, as the detail in the documents confirm, then William’s camp at Wilting will ultimately be confirmed from the same documents and in particular the Bayeux Tapestry, which can be seen to be recording all the events according to the topography of the valley.

Thank you Phillip for the plane which gives a good perspective of the size of the battlefield plain where we believe the two sides assembled before the battle.

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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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1,000year old hedgerow destroyed by chainsawmen

Chainsaws were operation well into the evening last night as the Crowhurst road was closed by police to enable the road builders to destroy the 1,000 year hedgerow on the edge of the field where William the Conqueror camped in 1066. We know it was 1,000 years old because HAARG (Hastings Area Archaeological Research Group) got the species dating material around fifteen years ago, long before the significance of the dating was known.
Today another brigade of chainsaws were on the march against humble protesters doing what they can to hold back the tide of fluorescent armor, intend on subduing our landscape into a downtrodden road to no-where. Let us support them not only in words but deeds of heroism against the foe who hides behind anonymity.
report 10am
The hedgerow in question is the one on the right of this field marked green on the right of the defensive ditches:

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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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