1066. Almost 950 years ago. Even for the UK that's a long time ago. It's a whole order of magnitude compared to our history (1941, 1861-65, 1776, etc.).
A quick history lesson: As with many historical moments, the trouble started with death of a king (King Edward the Confessor) while having no logical heir to the throne. Three men (Earl Harold of Wessex, King Harold Hardrada in Norway, and Duke William of Normandy) had some claim to the throne. Edward chose Earl Harold of Wessex and the other two weren't happy about it.
First, Harold Hardrada came across from Scandinavia and eventually landed near York (in the north). King Harold acted with astonishing speed, "drove" his army to the north and quickly took him out. One down. William some how caught wind of this (how I don't know--it was certainly before the internet!) and decided the time was right to attack from the south. He and his Norman army ("France") and a few other groups landed in Hastings and made their way to the site that is now Battle. Harold, going for the surprise attack again, quickly marched his army almost 200 miles to defend his turf.
From the English Heritage guidebook: The battle of Hastings was the most famous battle fought on English soil and resulted in the last wholly successful hostile invasion of England. The triumph of Duke William (later William "the Conqueror") marked the end of the Anglo-Saxon England and the imposition of a new and more cohesive ruling class. Society became bound by ties of feudal loyalty, leading to a greater concentration of power in royal hands. [William put all his people in charge, continued to sack any areas of rebellion and built numerous churches, abbeys and castles out of stone rather than wood to show/defend his power and prominence.]
King William I marked his victory be establishing the Benedictine abbey of Battle on the northern part of the battlefield (alledgely where King Harold was killed). It flourished for over 400 years until Henry VIII wanted all the church proceeds for himself (or his cronies).
It should be noted that the details from this time period are surprisingly good. One primary reason for that is because of the Bayeux Tapestry. The tapestry is 230 feet long and describes the history leading up to and including the Battle of Hastings (largely pictorially and with Latin inscriptions). As with most things, it is from the point of view of the victors (Bayeux is in Normandy, France).
Back to our trip and the re-enactment . . .
resting in the tree
close up, front view
close up, side view
killing the crash test dummy
introduction to the infantry and their weapons (and Alex's head)
And another shot from a similar view
Alex in front of a display of the battle gear
example Norman ship with shields
and a view from the other side of the hill
Here's some of the gang settling in before the main event. There were a few rows of folks in front of us so we ended up standing through the actual action.
. . . and they are met by the first Norman knights/scouts on horses
the wall of defense forms . . .
. . . the archers assemble (w/ rubber tipped arrows)
the Norman (and Breton??) flags
some of the "dead"
the final surge
and finally victory!
Well done (glad I thought of it! :-) )