1066 re-enactment march will pass through Sleaford

Saxon re-enactors preparing for the Battle of Hastings. This year marks the 950th anniversary of the battle � English Heritage EMN-160920-143657001
Saxon re-enactors preparing for the Battle of Hastings. This year marks the 950th anniversary of the battle � English Heritage EMN-160920-143657001
  • On September 25, 1066, King Harold defeated a Viking army led by Norwegian king Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Returning to York to recover and bury the dead, which included his brother Tostig, he discovered that the Norman army led by Duke William had landed at Pevensey in East Sussex.
  • Racing back to the South of England, Harold would have most likely taken the most direct route, following former Roman roads through the city of Lincoln and the Fens. He spent several days gathering troops in London, very likely visiting the newly built Westminster Abbey, before embarking on what would be his final journey to confront the invading force.
  • The two forces met on a battlefield a short way from Hastings, a place that would become the site of Battle Abbey. Built as penance for the bloodshed in the battle, the building would give its name to the town of Battle that grew up around it. On that day, October 14, 1066, the future of England was redrawn with the victory of Norman forces, and the death (possibly from an arrow in the eye, or maybe by other means) of King Harold.

A group of intrepid re-enactors are to pass through the Sleaford area on a 300 mile, three-week journey to recreate King Harold’s historic march to fend off invading Vikings and Normans.

The troops will leave York on Sunday September 25 on an epic trek inspired by the one taken by King Harold to the Battle of Hastings, 950 years ago.

Organised by English Heritage as part of its programme marking the anniversary of the Norman Conquest, re-enactors on foot and horseback will travel south over three weeks, arriving at the East Sussex battlefield on Friday October 14, the exact date in 1066 when the forces of Harold and Duke William of Normandy met in arguably the most famous and important battle in English history.

Journeying through Yorkshire and the East Midlands, the march will visit the historic city of Lincoln, passing through the same Roman arch Harold and his men would have done on their way south. They will then make their way to an overnight encampment at Scopwick on Thursday September 29 and move on to their next encampment on Friday September 30 at Aslackby, via Sleaford, where they will be hosted for lunch (from 12-1.30pm) by local charity Community Lincs on Boston Road Recreation Ground, which has been provided by Sleaford Town Council. The camp will set up by Sleaford Tennis club courts, who are providing their facilities to the group.

The march organisers have been working through Community Lincs, who operate a village hall advisory service, to identify suitable village halls along their route to make overnight encampments. The halls have been happy to open their facilities for free to host this historic re-enactment and it is hoped local communities will take advantage of learning something of the history of Saxon England.

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.”

Travelling through the Fens and on to Essex, the participants will visit Waltham Abbey, the church richly endowed by the English king, and where tradition says he may have been buried. On the final weekend, the group will march into central London, joining a ‘pop-up’ Saxon encampment within Hyde Park on Saturday October 8.

The final week’s journey will travel from Westminster into Kent, through the Weald to East Sussex, paying tribute to what would be King Harold’s final journey. Three weeks and three hundred miles after setting off, the re-enactors will arrive at Battle Abbey on the anniversary itself, in time to take part in the annual re-enactment event over the weekend of October 15 and 16.

To find out more about all these events, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/1066