Marchers mark King Harold's vain 300-mile trek to foil Norman conquest
Published 26/09/2016 | 06:51
A group of "warriors" are staging a 300-mile march that echoes the journey King Harold made to fight in the Battle of Hastings, to mark the 950th anniversary of the famous clash.
The volunteers are making the journey on horseback and foot from York to Battle, arriving at the East Sussex battlefield 950 years to the day after Harold fought William of Normandy in one of the most important battles in English history.
It is part of a series of events marking the 950th anniversary of the events of 1066 and the Norman conquest..
King Harold, the last Ang lo-Saxon king of England, defeated a Viking army led by Harald Hardrada, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, East Yorkshire, on September 25 1066, but then had to journey swiftly south to face the Normans.
On October 14, Harold fought the Normans and was killed at the Battle of Hastings, and William seized the English throne.
The "1066 march" set out from Clifford's Tower in York, travelling through Yorkshire and the East Midlands where in Lincoln they will pass through the same Roman arch Harold and his men would have done on their journey south.
The march, organised by heritage charity English Heritage, will travel through the Fens and to Essex, visiting Waltham Abbey where tradition says Harold may have been buried.
Marching into central London, the re-enactors will join a pop-up Saxon encampment in Hyde Park on Saturday October 8.
In the final week of the three-week journey, the group will travel from Westminster into Kent and through the Weald to East Sussex, completing their version of Harold's last journey, before arriving for the annual re-enactment of the battle.
Emily Sewell, head of events for English Heritage, said: "Throughout 2016 English Heritage have been marking the anniversary of 1066 - one of the most famous battles and most transformative years in English history - at sites and events across the country.
"This march and our re-enactment weekend are the culmination of this year of activity and a great opportunity for people to find out more about these dramatic events."
English Heritage hopes that the march will engage communities along the route with the history of 1066, and there will be workshops with local groups and schools.
Nigel Amos, who is leading the 1066 march on behalf of English Heritage, said: "I have been involved in re-enactment for many years and for me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"We do as much as we can to research the details of the history we re-enact, but there's nothing like a personal experience like this to understand what it was like and offer an even more authentic window on that world to inspire and inform others."
He added: "The legacy of the Norman Conquest is all around us, and for me this march is a great way of highlighting the enormity of what the people involved in the campaigns of 1066 undertook, as well as appreciating the richness of our country's heritage, from magnificent churches and castles to Roman roads and Saxon villages hiding in plain sight."