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CONCLUSION OF SITE REQUIREMENTS

According to Manuscript Study

Part Twenty-five
The eight manuscripts that we have looked at were all believed to be written within 150 years of the Invasion. They were written in days when the written word was almost exclusively the province of kings and the clergy. In consequence oral history in the form of spoken tradition, poems and song formed an important link in the way an important story, such as the events of the landing, were handed from generation to generation. In view of this it is to be expected that details that commenced as certain facts in the course of time get changed as they pass from generation to generation.

This has been assumed to account for the discrepancies between the Jumieges and Poitiers texts, regarding the naming of the site as Pevensey. This I believe is a false assumption based upon relatively recent understanding of the way information is passed. Details held in the great libraries were studiously copied and sources recited word for word the stories their fathers told. The art of story telling was at that time considered one of the great arts handed down in a pure and lasting form.

This explains why Wace's manuscript written so long after Poitiers contains far more detail. Not only do I believe the detail to be remarkably correct, given the number of years between the source and its creator, but there are many facets that contribute information that is not available anywhere else. Recent English "thinking" has put an interpretation upon this to infer Wace's "unreliability". However I believe that the evidence of all the manuscripts proves conclusively that in almost all respects, regarding the actual Invasion site, all the writers where correct in all material detail. This in itself is quite remarkable by today's standard, where a newsletter can change completely before it has had time to travel around the world.

In this respect it must be remembered that we cannot make reasoned judgements as to "reliability" or otherwise regarding these manuscripts, applying rules of the twentieth century. We are simply out of time and historians who make assumptions upon beliefs based upon today's logic can become severely unstuck. The Norman Invasion is a subject upon which almost all historians of any note have a limited knowledge. They have probably read Poitiers and possibly one or two of the other sources, dismissing the other texts as "unreliable", without keeping up with recent developments or addressing the issue from another perspective. It simply is not acceptable for an author to have his work discredited in one country, because the story as told does not fit a current historian's thesis, yet in another country, such as France, to be considered the absolute authority.

In consequence I do not believe that any of the manuscripts that we have looked at can be dismissed as "unreliable". The reasons given in the past were unfounded and based upon inaccuracies now corrected. Since this is the case I have not considered relevant the comments, or considerable discussion that this subject has raised in the Victorian era. I have certainly excluded any reference to recent authors who have not taken into account all the available sources, although they are listed in the bibliography at the end of the book.

Applying pure logic, the documents we have looked at must contain the key to the mystery of where the Invasion took place. History to date has got it wrong. How do I know this? The answer is for all to see, should they care enough to look for their own proof. They will find, as I did, that there is no physical proof of substance one way or the other. No weapons, no wooden fort, no ships, no archaeological remains of the invasion in Pevensey or Hastings. In fact there are no real artefacts at all, leading to wonder whether the Invasion actually took place. Of course this does not mean that none exist. The hypothesis that this text promotes relies upon the firm belief that if you look in the right place archaeological evidence must be found. If I am correct the long missing evidence will be found. If not the arguments presented here will be proven worthless and in due course pass the way of all unproved theses.

Having retained a degree of decorum in presenting my reasoned argument to date I cannot resist a slight dig, if that is the right word, at the establishment who point out that Norman remains disintegrate in the acid soil of the region. This is of course convenient poppycock, since archaeologists have been removing remains and relics from the soil of the area dating back to the Iron Age. Proof of events in the past is not confined to the sole retrieval of iron objects, which certainly may have decayed a considerable amount. However it is well known that even iron objects, particularly larger ones, such as axe heads and boat parts, leave an easily recoverable image in the soil, as the ions migrate and are replaced by phosphates. The fact that none have been found at Hastings or Pevensey adds weight to the inevitable conclusion that no-one has looked in the right place.

Prior to publication I sent the manuscript of this book to a number of eminent historians in order to make sure that the facts as presented where correct. I was surprised to be taken to task over the fact that I could not list those eminent historians who may have looked for artefacts at the recognised sites but failed to find any. It appeared to me that this was taking the onus of proof too far and missing the over all point. Namely if evidence was there to be found it could only be found at the landing and battle site. I am certain that many hundreds of qualified people have looked over the years, but with nothing to report they could not publish their results. There have been exhaustive digs at both Hastings and Pevensey castle, not to mention Battle Abbey. Yet it is my clear understanding that there is not one archaeological item that can be dated to the landing or battle.

It might be wise at this juncture to remind my readers that the writer is not, as I stated earlier, an academic. In consequence perhaps I have a sceptical nature that demands something more than theory before accepting what I have been told. Without wishing to trivialise the enormous amount of work involved in this project or indeed undermine the seriousness of the work of those noble men who spend their lives digging in ancient soil, it would seem appropriate for a media person such as myself to draw the reader’s attention to the words of the world’s most famous fictional archaeologist of all time. Our hero Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom is confronted by a question about archaeology. There he states that 90% of archaeology is research in libraries and manuscripts. If that general conclusion is correct the work examined so far provides the reader with a good basis to start the real hunt for our “Holy Grail”. With that in mind I would now like to produce a summary of all the matters revealed in the source documents in a numbered list:

1) UNOPPOSED LANDING(135a)
The Bayeux Tapestry, The Carmen, Poitiers and Wace all agree that the landing was unopposed. This supports the theory that the landing was not at a town. It would be logical to conclude that if the landing were at a town site the devastation would have taken place to the fortifications and have been recorded. This did not happen and provides major support for landing in a rural environment

2) TOWN OF LANDING
According to Jumieges they landed "at Pevensey" whilst Poitiers says they "reached Pevensey". However neither use the expression "town of" or similar explanation leaving the conclusion that the area of Pevensey was a probable meaning. Poitiers extends the same sentence to say that they "seized Pevensey and then Hastings". Both statements would be correct if the Normans knew the area between Pevensey castle and the Bulverhythe as Pevensey, along with the marsh. The Bulverhythe formed a natural boundary leaving Hastings in control of the peninsula to the East. In consequence it is possible to interpret both these documents in a way that supports a site that is neither in Hastings or Pevensey but somewhere between the two.

If you take the view that Jumieges and Poitiers both meant the town of Pevensey then it can be seen that they are the only manuscripts of the era to propose this. However Poitiers own qualification that they "secured a safe landing place" before the reference to seizing and fortifying Pevensey and Hastings weakens Pevensey as a possible site. In my view the total available manuscript evidence completely destroys the credibility of Poitiers claim that the Normans landed at the town of Pevensey.

Lined up in support of Hastings on the other side of the equation are six major works of the time. The Carmen says the camp site is at Hastings. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey says that the camp was "at the port of Hastings". Wace confirms the landing "near Hastings" with Pevensey being visited the day after the landing. The Bayeux Tapestry names Hastings at the point of landing and finally we have the Saxon Chronicles detailing Hastings in one version with Pevensey in another. Given that this Pevensey report is then amended by Florence of Worcester the weight of evidence is balanced in favour of a site that was at the port of Hastings.

3) CAMP BY OR NEAR SEA
Confirmed in Poitiers text as well as the references to a port by Wace, the Carmen and the Chronicle of Battle Abbey. It is logical to assume a port is by or near the sea.

4) CAMP AT A PORT
The Carmen names William's camp at the port of Hastings. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey does the same whilst Wace says they "steered to one port". As stated above Hastings holds more weight of manuscript evidence and is indirectly confirmed by a later Saxon Chronicle entry stating that “right in front of the port” where William’s fleet “landed stood a Castle handsome and strong” and that William allowed knights to enter therein and garrison it for two years.(74) Although not a direct confirmation of events it leads to a logical conclusion that the camp and castle were on the same site, when taken in conjunction with the Bayeux Tapestry evidence.

5) PORT CAPABLE OF HOLDING AT LEAST 696 SHIPS
Jumieges says 3,000 ships were involved over all, whilst Wace is more conservative with 700 less four. Either proposal established an enormous undertaking for the resources of the day. In any event the port needed to be of a considerable size. Far larger than the area known as the port of Hastings, which is generally accepted to have been situated under the cliffs of the castle that survive to this day. In the absence of any proof to the contrary local tradition states that the port must have been nearer the sea in ancient times. As a result of the coastal erosion in the 12th and 13th centuries the old port can no longer be found. I dispute this as I shall show later that the port of Hastings was located in the Combe Haven valley at least until 1094. This valley held the largest natural harbour in the South Coast, second only to Poole harbour.

6) CAMP AT SITE OF A CALM BAY
The Carmen provides a number of clues to suggest a calm bay. Firstly they "leave the sea behind them". This infers a passage into a waterway that was not part of the sea. Secondly the shores where guarded, suggesting more than one shore, which would be appropriate to a bay. Thirdly the same chronicle refers to a final landing place in a calm bay. Given the three separate references I do not believe this to be either a mistake by the author or an error in translation.

7) CAMP ADJACENT TO A LARGE SHORE The Chronicle of Battle Abbey uses the expression "extensively along the shore" to describe where the ships were beached. The assumption that at least 696 ships were used in the Invasion fleet (and possibly 3,000) requires a very large shore. If each occupied only five meters and they were beached in a continuous line, without a break, the total shore line would be a minimum of three and a half kilometres, or possibly fifteen kilometres, if Jumieges estimate were correct.

8) THE SHIPS WERE SIDE BY SIDE
Wace says that they "arrived and reached the shore together". The Bayeux Tapestry endorses this showing all the ships on the shore together at the point of landing. This ties in with the above point 7) confirming at least two miles of landing site required.

9) THEY BUILT A WOODEN FORT
Three manuscripts confirm this major point. These are The Chronicle of Battle Abbey, Wace and the Bayeux Tapestry. Wace even goes into great detail about the pins and frames that hold the fort together. At the time of the Invasion only Pevensey had a well established castle of stone construction. Evidence collected by Charles Dawson (75) in his book History of Hastings Castle makes this clear and is endorsed by J.H.Round in his article The Castles of the Conquest.(76)

10) THE FORT HAD A DITCH (FOSSE)
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the construction of a ditch at the site of the lower fort. This is also confirmed by Wace as an event that takes place after the raid on Pevensey.

11) THERE WERE PREVIOUS FORTS AT THE SITE
This important observation is made by the Carmen. The Carmen's reference to "dismantled forts” at the site of the Invasion confirms the existence of more than one fort. The Bayeux Tapestry surprisingly confirms our new interpretation of the existence of two forts (in the plural) on the same site, further backing up the Carmen reference.

12) THE FORT WAS ON A HILL SITE
The formation of the Norman camp and Invasion site at a hill is one of the most certain facts concerning the events of the day. Four independent sources confirm this. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey names the camp at a "hill called Hedgeland". The Bayeux Tapestry shows a hill behind the lower fort, with a further hill below the upper fort. Wace describes a hill nearby when describing the episode with the English spy who reports to Harold. He also confirms that the duke addressed his men, whilst in their camp, from a hill. This conclusive cross referencing shows the camp and Invasion site to be next to a hill that cannot be found in the Pevensey Bay area. An area devoid of hills of any note and certainly none with a fort at the top and bottom.

13) THE SHIPS WERE EARTHED UP
This item, together with the following two items, appear to be in direct contradiction with one and other. Only the actual site of the Invasion will resolve the mystery of how three separate accounts of what happened to the Invasion fleet can all be correct. There is no conflict in each account since they are all correct. The Carmen claims that the ships were earthed up presumably to avoid desertion.

14) THE SHIPS WERE DISMANTLED Wace makes the claim that the ships were "dismantled and drawn ashore". This appears to have some possible confirmation in the way that the forts are drawn in the Bayeux Tapestry. The oar ports on the ships being reproduced as part of the construction on the new forts.

15) THE SHIPS WERE BURNT
The Chronicle of Battle Abbey records a further version where William has ordered "most of the ships" to be burnt. This appears to be a rather unlikely turn of events. Timber ships would have an intrinsic value for construction purposes, when faced with the logistics of supplying food and shelter to a large invasion force. To burn such a rich source of available material would not appear to be very sensible and in consequence an observation that you would expect to be flawed. It would be expected that such an observation was made to supply a reason why no ships from the Invasion fleet had until now been found.

16) THE SHIPS WERE SMALL
The Bayeux Tapestry provides a number of visual clues that provide evidence to support the fact that the main ships used in the Invasion were small by current day standards.

17) WILLIAM'S SHIP HAD A FIGURINE
The Bayeux Tapestry and Wace both confirm this point, although they differ as to which end of the ship the figurine was attached. Taylor's manuscript confirms the same point, indicating the inevitable conclusion that if this figurine could be identified the actual landing site would be proven.

18) THE SHIPS HAD VIKING TYPE PROWS
The Bayeux Tapestry is a unique witness to the Viking style of the ships and appears to bear out what was known to be the likely seafaring roots of the Invaders.

19) THE PROWS HAD REMOVABLE HEADS
The Bayeux Tapestry also confirms that the heads on the prow of the Invasion ships were removable. The tradition of removing them before landfall being established through Icelandic law popular throughout the Scandinavian countries. The Normans being descended from the North Men of Scandinavia inherited both the law and the design of their ships.

20) THE CAMP WAS NEXT TO OR AT A MANOR HELD BY THE KING This conclusion is a new interpretation of the Wace story where the knight who reports the Invasion does so to Harold “his lord”.

21) THE INITIAL LANDING SITE WAS SMALL
The Carmen makes the point that the initial landing place was small by virtue of the fact that they "gained control over no great space".

22) THERE WAS A PLAIN NEAR BY THE LANDING SITE/ WATER SUPPLY
Wace says that they "passed into the plain with their lances raised" upon landing. The form of the plain is not expanded upon but it is reasonable to expect that the relatively large number of men and horses would require such a place to be fed and watered. It would also be essential for there to be fresh water, enough to sustain this force at any such site. This observation, if correct, would also disqualify the traditional Hastings Castle site since it could never be described as a plain. The most recent survey of the cricket ground (77) confirming that the area below the castle was in fact a marsh which is now behind a shingle bank. It seems highly unlikely that a port would be built on land that was in front of marshy ground. To camp on such a site would be wholly illogical. Whilst it may suit the Hastings Council to commission such a report to validate building a shopping centre on the site, it does nothing to further the historic claim that this was the place William the Conqueror camped.

23) THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WAS LAID TO WASTE
The Carmen and Poitiers both use the expression "laid to waste" when describing the area around the camp. I do not believe it is coincidence that both texts, originating so close to the time of the Invasion, should use the same phraseology. The fact that this same phrase is used consistently in the Domesday Survey provides conclusive evidence that the area around the Norman camp suffered severe destruction.

24) THE GROUND WAS UNEVEN AND WATERLOGGED
Poitiers remarks on the roughness of the ground at William's camp. The conclusion as to water logging being as a consequence of the need to dismount upon returning to camp together with Wace's story about William falling at the landing site. This would be expected as a result of at least three weeks bad weather prior to departure from St Valery.

25) ONE CAMP WAS AT THE BOTTOM OF AN AGRICULTURAL FIELD
The Bayeux Tapestry in my opinion shows two camps. The one at the bottom of the hill has agricultural strips behind it in two different places when showing the same site. The confirmation of the site being a working farm is shown by reference to the farm animals at the scene of the landing. This is also indirectly supported by the universal confirmation that the landing was unopposed since an unopposed landing would infer land with a low inhabitation density - such as agricultural land.

26) THE OTHER CAMP WAS AT THE TOP OF THE SAME FIELD
The Bayeux Tapestry shows a second camp with a balustrade running between two towers on the top of the same hill, with agricultural strips below it.

27) THE BOTTOM CAMP WAS TO THE RIGHT OF THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the camp at the bottom of the hill, to the right of the main hill, as seen from the landing site perspective. The landing site itself is to the left of the lower camp.

28) THE FORT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL HAD TWO TOWERS
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the main fort at the bottom of the hill with two towers connected by a balustrade.

29) THERE WAS A MOUND BETWEEN THE TWO TOWERS
The Bayeux Tapestry shows a mound between the two towers at the bottom fort. This could possibly be a grave site.

30) THE TOWERS AND FORT WALLS HAD A TERRACED BOTTOM
The Bayeux Tapestry consistently shows the construction of the bottom fort with terracing at the bottom of the walls.

31) THERE WAS A CIRCULAR DINING ROOM
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the first dining scene described by Wace. In it William and his entourage are eating their first meal in a circular dining room.

32) THE EXIT WAS TO THE RIGHT OF THE FORT LOOKING FROM THE SEA The Bayeux Tapestry shows the main exit from the lower fort (which is called "Hastings" in the text) on the right hand side, as seen from the same perspective as all the rest of the Tapestry, looking towards the shore from the sea.

33) THE DUKE'S QUARTERS WERE ELEVATED AT THE SITE
The Bayeux Tapestry shows William's position seated at the main camp in a raised position.

34) THE CAMP AT THE TOP OF THE HILL HAD TWO TOWERS AND A CONNECTING PALISADE
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the camp at the top of the hill to have two towers connected by a balustrade.

35)THE CAMP HAD CHAPELS IN ADJACENT FIELDS UPON DEPARTURE.
Wace observes that chapels were set up the night prior to departure to battle.

36) THE LANDING SITE WAS LOW DOWN BELOW THREE HOUSES
The Bayeux Tapestry shows the landing site to be low down below three houses laid in a row, either together or upon a ridge. These may be a diagrammatic way of showing the site of the landing to be adjacent to or within the view of three manors or manor houses.

37) THERE IS A GRAVE AT THE SITE
Two major sources confirm a burial at the site of the Norman camp for both Harold and the Normans killed at the battle. These are Poitiers and the Carmen with Wace stating that he does not know if the story that Harold was taken to Waltham was true.

38) THE GRAVE HAS A MARKER STONE
Poitiers and the Carmen independently describe in almost the same words the inscription on the stone placed upon Harold's grave.

39) THE CAMP IS IN THE MANOR OF CROWHURST OR WILTING
The Domesday Survey provides conclusive evidence that the most likely manors for the Norman camp site were where the value of the manor recovered least in the 20 years since the Invasion. This suggests the greatest damage by the invading army was at either Crowhurst or Wilting.

40) THE SITE IS CALLED HEDGELAND
The Chronicle of Battle Abbey names William's camp as being at a place called Hedgeland.

The analysis of these eight manuscripts produces forty separately identifiable clues to the correct landing site. After examining the geographical and archaeological evidence we shall re-examine these forty points to establish how many have a validity in relation to the proposed site.


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