Part Fifty-six
Having covered most aspects of the site itself I believe it is important to address the issue of place names connected with the site. The connection between Chapel Field and the events of the Invasion remain to be seen. However any place name interpretation will be speculative in these circumstance. I shall briefly state that I do not think it possible for an event so momentous as the Norman Invasion to have passed without some record creeping into the place name registry. I would therefore propose that apart from Chapel Field the following fields are directly linked to the Invasion and thus explain their origin:

Monkham Wood

Monkham Wood is located half way between the lower and upper Norman forts on the landing site. It is reported by most chroniclers that William and Harold employed monks to parley on the night before the battle. Monkham Wood and Monkham Mead are named after the place where the monks camped.

Sandrock Field

This is the place where William’s men first landed after they had climbed out of the Monkham inlet. The name of the field illustrates the nature of the ground at that time, more resembling a sandy beach than a field. The sandstone outcrop formed a small cliff along the southern and western sides of their lower fort, and the name Sandrock probably passed into use at that time, thus naming the site. The road from Wilting to the battle site also passes huge sandstone outcrops and is called Sandrock Hill(147). Whilst this may not seem remarkable, since the area is covered in such outcrops, it is a coincidence that the monk Oderic named the battle as the battle of Senlac. No-one has been able to identify where this name came from. There have been many different interpretations, but I propose that Senlac is a straight interpretation of the French words for Sand and Rock (sens roc). The written name Senroc was written Senlac because of the difficulty translating foreign script. It is not uncommon for an R to be read as an L and equally likely that an O could become an A in script. Hence Senlac entered the vocabulary courtesy of Freeman’s popularisation of the name in the nineteenth century. It was common for names to be mistranslated or copied in error by those unfamiliar with the tongue and this provides the first possible explanation of the name which ties in directly with the proposed landing site.


A compelling indication that the name Bulverhythe is linked to the Norman Invasion is contained in the translation of the word as “The landing place of the people” in Old English. I propose that the landing place of the people, at the port of Hastings, links this site to the Norman Invasion. The concept of the landing of the people relating to the special events of that time, rather than the usual linking of the port name to the local town. In the Place Names of Sussex(148) by A. Mawer and F.M.Stenton it is confirmed that burhwara is from the Old English ‘citizens’ with hyde directly linked to harbour of the port or town. However in this instance the name of the town is not incorporated into the Old English, indirectly confirming the name refers to the origins of the use of the site, rather than the town nearby


Redgeland Wood is a totally insignificant wood situated in the northeast corner of the Combe Haven valley, where we now believe the old port was located. However the written record(149) goes back to 1399, which is unusual. The translation of the name is given as “Ridge land” yet the site in question is at sea level and not even on the ridge which so prominently surrounds Hastings. Hedgeland however is mentioned in the Chronicle of Battle Abbey, as the site where William the Conqueror camped, and names the site as being at the port of Hastings. This site was falsly named by the monks as being at the top of the ridge and translated from the Old English means “hedge land”.

In view of this obvious anomaly I decided to contact Christopher Whittick, Assistant Archevist at East Sussex County Council, to see if there is any record held in the Wilting collection of deeds held in Lewis. Unfortunately most of these have not yet been catalogued, but he was kind enough to point out that the Old English for RIDGE is hrycg whilst the Old English for HEDGE was hecg. The similarity of both words being so great, if written in script, that making an error in the transmission of the Battle Chronicle seems certain.

Whether this error was deliberate seems unlikely. If the scribe had deliberately intended to deceive his audience there would be no point is using a similar name. It appears to me that the name had passed on to the monks of Battle Abbey through word of mouth or written record, which has now been lost. Consequently the name Hedgeland came into existence because the Chronicler confirmed in writing what he believed to be true. Only later did the monks of future generations forge the charters to justify their position and at the same time invent Hedgeland on the ridge.

I would propose that Hedgeland, as a name, confirms more than any other name the site at the port on the Combe Haven valley as the site of the camp of William the Conqueror. The document it is taken from is without doubt authentic in relation to it’s age. I propose therefore that the transcription error from Redgeland to Hedgeland explains the loss from the historic record.