This is transcript of my letter to BBC History Today in response to an article entitled ‘ Historians are to follow in the footsteps of King Harold’ on an English Heritage walk from York to Battle.
There are many walkers and walking groups who have enjoyed walking 1066 Harold’s Way on what I believe to be the most probable route for King Harold on his epic march to the Battle of Hastings. Your comments are more than welcome and if you feel able to share this blog and Facebook post amongst friends and/or fellow walkers it will add to the debate.
BBC History Today – September issue
I was amused to read the ‘experts’ article on King Harold’s epic journey to Caldbec Hill,
It is not the march from York to London along Ermine Street that is subject of discussion but the simplistic view of the route from Westminster Abbey to Caldbec Hill that ignores the conflicting views of scholars and historians.
After Tonbridge, and the end of the Roman road, the vast forest of the Andreasweald, the limited tracks, the climbs, descents and the Wealden mud to cope with would have debilitated any army.
In my research for 1066 Harold’s Way, a Channel 4 documentary, some years ago, gave a thorough and logical argument for an alternative route along existing Roman roads, east out of London along Watling Street and south along the clear Roman road towards Hastings, with the added legend of a camp at Rochester on the night of 11th October 1066.
Those Roman roads across country still exist, contradicting Nigel’s view that the roads are all gone, and they would have been in use in 1066. Although the distance was longer, the easier terrain would have provided a fast and less demanding route across the Weald with the army in a better state to fight a battle.
I understand the altruistic view of a route that takes in more EH properties but I would suggest that this march does not entirely follow in the footsteps of King Harold.
Indeed, by taking this route it is quite likely Harold would have been late for his own death!
History Walks, 1066 Harold’s Way and The Saxon Times