|Camellia, Battle Abbey|
|Undercroft, Battle Abbey|
English Heritage are making a good job of looking after the site, the weather was bright and sunny and the battlefield itself was covered in meadow flowers. The camellias around the abbey walls were stunning.
A visit to Battle Abbey and an examination of the circumstances which led to the Saxons' defeat does emphasise how coincidences can change the course of history.
The Saxons under the newly crowned Harold Godwinson had been awaiting a Norman invasion on the south coast and were thoroughly prepared for it. What they had not factored in to their thinking was that there might be an invasion by the Vikings in Yorkshire led by their warlike king Harald Haradra and Harold Godwinson's brother Tostig. The Saxon army had to run over 200 miles on rough tracks, they covered the distance in a week at 30 miles a day, fought and won a savage and bloody battle and then heard that the Normans had landed in Sussex. The professional core of the Saxon army ran back to the south with the King and new, inexperienced men were conscripted to help fight the invaders. This inexperience turned out to be the decisive factor in a battle which shaped the destiny of England. It's difficult not to feel a great admiration for Harold and his royal guard, the Housecarles, to have run the length of the land twice and to have fought two titanic battles against such formidable foes is remarkable. The moment that Harold fell spelt the end for the Housecarles, when their 'gold lord' fell they would defend his body until their own death.
So by ironic coincidence, Ian's travels took him from Battle on Tuesday to North Yorkshire on Wednesday, but not on foot!
|Swaledale Family Group|
|Perfect 'squeeze stile' in a perfect drystone wall|
Yorkshire is hosting the first stage of this year's Tour de France, not another invasion (thankfully), and Yorkshire's tourism chiefs seem beside themselves with excitement. Dales folk, however, are not prone to public displays of excitement but seem to be looking forward to the inevitable increase in visitor numbers ('appen there'll be a lot of cyclists about then!).
|The lounge bar at Stone House|
|'Mousie Thompson' mouse on the bar at Stone House.|