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Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Sunday, 8 February 2015

"The Battle of Hastings 1066: the uncomfortable truth" by John Grehan and Martin Mace

Not that uncomfortable. These authors simply contend that the Battle was not fought on Battle Hill where Battle Abbey was built (allegedly with the High Altar being on the spot that King Harold died) but was instead fought on the far higher and steeper nearby Caldbec Hill. The argument convinced me in the first few chapters and I really did not need the authors to belabour it quite as much as they did.

Apart from being higher and steeper, Caldbec Hill was the meeting point of Harold's army. It was the point at which important roads intersected and where three hundreds met. The was a Hoar Apple tree to mark the spot of the assembly and one of the original sources states that this was where the battle was fought. In addition, it was near the forest and an early source tells of William seeing the Saxons coming out of the trees. It made no sense for King Harold to move from his highly defensible meeting place whilst he was still awaiting further reinforcements down hill to the much gentler Battle Hill where his men, who fought on foot, could easily have been mown down by the Norman cavalry. Furthermore many of the early sources agree that the battle, which unusually for mediaeval battles lasted all day, proved very hard for the Normans because they had to fight uphill. Finally, a significant moment in the battle came when some of the Norman cavalry rode into a ravine and were suffocated, one on top of the other. There is a likely river near Caldbec Hill where this might have happened but not near Battle Hill.

And there have been archaeologists digging on Battle Hill without turning up any significant evidence of the thousands of men who were killed in this battle. Perhaps they should be excavating on Caldbec Hill instead.

OK. I think these two historians have proved their point. Argument ( more or less) over. But this book could have been half the length and still convinced me.

February 2015; 154 pages

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