Battle is about 50 miles east of Brighton, just inland from Hastings.
In 1066, King Edward III (the Confessor) of England died. Since he left no sons, there was a struggle for the throne. At first, it appeared that his brother in law Harold, the Earl of Wessex would take over. But, there were several other potential kings out there, and Harold had to fight them to put them down. While he was in Northern England putting down Harald Hardrada of Norway William, Duke of Normandy landed in Southern England prepared to stake his own claim to the throne. Harold took off for the south, and met William in the Battle of Hastings. Harold's army proved to be no match for the Normans, and Harold fell in battle on October 14th, 1066. William the Conqueror became William I of England, and the Norman kings began their dynasty. However, the Battle of Hastings did not actually take place in Hastings. Rather, it happened just outside Hastings. The town is now called Battle, and there are several Norman Conquest related sites to see. For more information, check out http://battle1066.com/ or http://www.1066country.com/
This is what's left of the crypt of the abbey William the Conqueror had built here. According to legend, William promised God that if He helped the Normans win the battle, that he would build an abbey on the spot. God kept up His end of the bargain, so William built the abbey, with the altar sitting on the spot that Harold fell. Now, a small marker marks the spot where Harold fell. That head sticking out on the left side is me.
This is another ruin of the abbey. It is deserted and pretty bare, but its open to walk through and explore. Its kind of eerie, walking through a building that was built almost 1000 years ago.
This is a shot of the site of the Battle of Hastings. Looks pretty peaceful now, doesn't it? You could never tell that the "bodies were stacked 4 high in the center of the line" after the battle.
The battlefield itself is a grazing ground for (you can guess), sheep. Like these. They're everywhere, and they let you walk all around the sheep. All they ask is that you close the gates you walk through so the sheep don't get out. There's a walking tour of the battlefield, and signs mark the highlights of the battle. The Battle of Hastings is a milestone because William the Conqueror used his cavalry extensively against Harold's infantry. Before, battles were two large groups of men running at each other and hacking each other apart in hand to hand combat. With the cavalry, William introduced a new, stronger faster unit to his army. Harold's poor army never knew what hit them.
This is St. Mary's Church, across the street from the Abbey. It was built soon after the Abbey itself. Both are excellent examples of Norman architecture.