1066 and the Norman Conquest

1066 And The Norman Conquest

1066 was a momentous year for England. The death of the elderly English king, Edward the Confessor, on 5 January set off a chain of events that would lead, on 14 October, to the Battle of Hastings. In the years that followed, the Normans had a profound impact on the country they had conquered.

Discover more here about the Battle of Hastings itself and its consequences, and find out where you can see some of the spectacular castles and great abbeys the Normans built across the land.

The Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman army of Duke William of Normandy and an English army under King Harold. It lasted all day, and was exceptionally bloody even by medieval standards. When Harold was eventually killed and the English fled, the way was open for William to assume the throne of England. Find out more about the events leading up to the battle, the battle itself and the location of the battlefield.

  • What happened at the Battle of Hastings?

    At dawn on Saturday 14 October 1066, two great armies prepared to fight for the throne of England. Read what happened at the most famous battle in English history.

  • Visit the 1066 Battlefield

    Explore the site of the most famous battle in English history – one of the least altered of all medieval battlefields – and visit the abbey founded there by King William I.

  • Where did the Battle of Hastings Happen?

    Was Battle Abbey built ‘on the very spot’ where King Harold fell, or was the Battle of Hastings actually fought elsewhere? Discover the latest thinking about the battlefield’s location.

  • How to Organise a Norman Invasion Fleet

    You’ve ordered all your nobles and rich men to build your fleet of ships, but how many will you need? What supplies should you take and how on earth will you get the horses on board?

  • Things you didn't know about 1066

    Was William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings a foregone conclusion? Was King Harold really killed by an arrow in his eye? Find quick answers to these and other questions about 1066.

  • The Weapons of 1066

    From the simple and affordable club to fine steel-bladed swords, we take a closer look at one of England's most famous battles and the weapons used by the Normans and Saxons.

Norman places to visit

You can see some of the best-preserved Norman architecture in England at English Heritage sites, including great castles and magnificent abbeys. Follow the links below to find out more about some of our most spectacular Norman sites.

  • Pevensey Castle

    A Norman castle was built here within the walls of a Roman fort close to the spot where William landed in England on 28 September 1066.

  • Old Sarum

    King William gathered his army here in 1070 after his campaign to subdue northern England. See the remains of the Norman castle and cathedral built here soon afterwards within a vast Iron Age hillfort.

  • Rochester Castle

    Rochester Castle has one of the most spectacular keeps in England, begun in 1127. A masterpiece of Norman architecture, it is the tallest such building to survive in Europe.

  • Dover Castle

    See some of the most impressive late 12th century architecture in England at this vast fortress, including Henry II's magnificent great tower.

  • Lindisfarne Priory

    Benedictine monks from Durham founded a priory here in the 11th century to house a shrine to St Cuthbert. Surviving Norman architecture includes the famous rainbow arch.

  • Richmond Castle

    Built by a Norman baron, Richmond has more surviving 11th-century architecture than any other castle in England.

The Norman Impact

After the Battle of Hastings, William built Battle Abbey on the site of the battle to mark his great victory and atone for the bloodshed. On Christmas day 1066 he was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey.

The overthrow of the Saxon kingdom of England by William the Conqueror and his Norman knights was to transform the country they had conquered, from how it was organised and governed to its language and customs – and perhaps most visibly today, its architecture.

  • Atoning for the Bloodshed

    Battle Abbey was a memorial to William’s great victory – but it was also an act of penance. Find out why this great abbey was founded.

  • What was William's Legacy?

    The Norman Conquest brought about the most radical change in society ever seen in England. This blog looks as some of the ways the country was transformed.

  • King William, Domesday and the Oath of Sarum

    Find out how William I used an ancient centre of power, Old Sarum in Wiltshire, to set his seal on the conquest of England.

  • 1066 and the Norman Conquest Podcasts

    Listen to our experts discuss the impact of the Norman Conquest on England, as well as events before, during and after the Battle of Hastings.

  • Norman Warfare

    Discover how the Norman Conquest was achieved thanks to two instruments of war previously unknown in England – the mounted, armoured knight, and the castle.

  • A New Style of Building

    Discover how the Norman Conquest transformed the style of building in England, and learn about some of the key features of Norman architecture.

  • How to Dine like a Norman

    In the Bayeux Tapestry, William the Conqueror is depicted enjoying a fine feast soon after his invasion of England in 1066. What did the Normans bring to the English table?

  • How to Drink like a Norman

    Both before and after the Norman Conquest, everyone drank ale – from small children to adults. But under the Normans, consumption of wine in England increased...

  • Why do we have Surnames?

    One of the most obvious changes to English culture after 1066 occurs in people’s names. Find out how inherited surnames arrived with the Normans.

  • Conquest: Fact or Fiction?

    It’s often said that history is written by the winners. But in medieval stories the Normans didn’t always come out on top, as we discover from tales told about the Conquest.

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