When King Harold marched his army to battle both back from York and down to Caldbec Hill, near Hastings, he was able to use the Roman roads which were still being used at the time.
Although these were not the only roads in use in 1066, they were the only long distance routes available to anybody who had the desire or need to travel the length and breadth of England.
After the last Romans had left Britain, in AD 410, the majority of the population had no need to travel long distances or would require such well-made roads. As Saxon influence grew, the villages became largely self-sufficient and if a longer journey became necessary it would follow the trackways that led between the villages or follow the ancient Ridgeways from another age.
King Harold’s stricken family negotiated with William to repatriate the body to Bosham and would set out from Senlac Hill, now Battle Abbey on the long journey across Sussex.
For the first part, the mourners would journey with the King’s body from village to village and later, would use the Roman road north of Lewes to join up with Stane Street that led into Chichester and on the short distance left to Bosham
1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey will follow this route through Sussex based on the record of the Saxon villages that were recorded in the Domesday Book which was commissioned by King William and create a certain irony, as without the Domesday Book, the route would have been pure speculation.
Of the 32 villages along 1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey, 26 of them were in existence in 1066 which I find amazing and this walk will provide me, and I hope other walkers, with a sense of the history of Harold’s Final Journey time and a chance to reflect on the changes over the last 950 years.
1066 Harold’s Way, The Final Journey is dedicated to the memory of King Harold II, the last Saxon King.
Harold Godwinson, 1022 to 14th October 1066.