Landscape Features that could have effected the Battle of Hastings 1066

Anglo Saxon History
Map Position

This map shows the position of locations containing '1066' centered on Frant in Sussex.

Map Logic

This map shows Roman roads shown in black plotted from Ivan D Margary 'Roman Roads in Britain' published in 1955.

The red roads are taken from Ivan D Margary 'Roman ways in the Weald' published in 1948.

Also shown is the border of the Forest of Anderida in green. The changes in the coastline shown in pale blue, and the 5 metre high tide mark on the rivers shown in dark blue.

The dark shaded areas along the coast show the cliff line in 1066, which would make landing at these points impossible. so the only logical place for the Normans to land 700 ships would be from the Hooe peninsular to the Coombe valley at Bulverhythe. Any ships overrunning would have to pass the cliffs at Hastings to land.

Icon Key:
Saxon Port

The black lines show the routes of old Roman main roads, the red lines show ancient ridgeways mostly running east to west, both of these major route types were likely to still be in use in 1066, as they would be the only way a large force of men could move by foot through the Forest of Andredsweald to Hastings.

William is recorded as having landed at Hastings hence the most likely landing places are on the Hooe Peninsular or along the coast via Bexhill and through to Bulverhythe and the Combe Valley which would have been a protected harbour in 1066, or possibly into the Tillingham valley but this is less likely due to tides and the shape of the coastline at the time in the area.

For the battle to take place near Battle, William must have landed somewhere between current Ninfield in the West and Winchelsea in the East, as the sea at Pevensey came inland to Boreham Street and the Tillingham inland as far as Westfield, trapping the Normans near Hastings with only one major route through to London.

It is also recorded that a ship overshot the landing and ended up at New Romney where the occupants were put to the sword, but this seems to be an isolated event caused by the currents flowing east, so most would have landed near William further West.

As you can see, the current logic that the Saxons came down from Rochester has to be incorrect as the whole English army would have had to cross the tidal estuary at Bodiam by ferry.

To avoid that issue it is more likely that Harold came down from London over the Ashdown Forest on the old Roman London to Lewes road to Maresfield where he took the old ridgeway through to Netherfield which would have avoided the Wealden clay lined valleys that would have delayed his troops.

At Netherfield he would have had to head south east on the ridge towards Battle, however if William landed on the Hooe peninsular, Bexhill or Combe Haven at Hastings then Harold would have been better stopping where the current A271 joins the B2096 as the threat from William would be due South of this point, and at this point would block Williams only route inland.

External References in no particular order :-
Original Manuscripts of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Online Anglo Saxon dictionary
Online Etymology dictionary
Open Domesday Book - The first free online copy of the Domesday Book
The Ermine Street Guard Roman re-enactment and research Society
The "Kent A" cadastre - page 5 - Peterson 2002
Archaeologia Cantiana Online
Romney Marsh Research Trust
Romney Marsh the Fifth Continent
VillageNet the reference guide to villages in Kent & Sussex
Global warming Flood Maps
The Anglo Saxon Chronicles
Google Maps - the core of the system
GeoPlaner - Useful site for plotting map data
Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars 55BC(Books 4 & 5)
Wikipedia - Caesar's invasions of Britain
Wikipedia - Portus Istus
The Geography of Claudius Ptolemy (Bill Thayers)
Runetree Beowulf
Bayeux Tapestry Online
The Secrets of the Norman Invasion
Chronicles of John of Worcester
Battle Historic Society
Binsted village website(Mearcredesburnan Steðe)


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Author: Simon M       Document Created: 2015-06-20
Data is derived from a number or sources including the Ordnance Survey Gazetter data overlayed onto Google Maps