Hastings 2006
Brother Godfroi blesses the Norman Left

In October 2006, Wychwood went to Hastings. Every half a dozen years or so, English Heritage put on one of the biggest re-enactments in the country, on the original battle site of Hastings. In 2006, this involved around 2000 warriors, 100 cavalry and 150 archers. It was incredibly impressive, especially as it was being done on the same day and on the same hill as the original battle over 900 years ago!

Most of Wychwood fought on the Englisc side, up at the top of the hill. Where they died glorious deaths. I, on the other hand, made full monastic kit, got a tonsure, and went as a Norman Monk-Clerke called Brother Godfroi.

Friday - Kit Check - The Battle

Friday
Brother Godfroi watches everyone else unpack!

Friday was a whirlwind of packing, driving, unpacking and putting up tents. And once we'd got to Hastings, there was also a bit of a re-enactment market. Where we bought jewellry and cloth and feasting equipment.
Friday night, on the other hand, is a bit blurred in my memory. I remember meeting up with someone from my Uni who lives in Hastings, I remember much quaffing of mead, I remember meeting Russians and Italians and lots of other people- all of whom shared whatever horrific spirit their country is famous for. Suffice to say, by the next morning randoms were already referring to me at the Drunk Monk, and people I didn't recognise were asking me how my head was...

Friday - Kit Check - The Battle

Kit Check
The
Wychwood Host, as ready as they'll ever be for kit checking

The organisers of Hastings was very serious about costume. There was a website with lots of very detailed guidelines, and minimum restrictions and so on. This meant that the trip on Friday and early Saturday morning was largely about sewing. Lots of sewing. As one Wychwooder hadn't finished their kit yet!
So, after the last minute sewing, Saturday morning we had to attend checks to make sure they were wearing good enough costume and could fight safely. Mine went easily, with the kit checker basically saying "Fine. Nice tonsure by the way, extra points for that".
Then came more shopping, lots of eating of junkfood, and meetings to organise the battle. At the monk meeting, I was given command of blessing the Norman Left Flank, along with two spare costumes to distribute.

Friday - Kit Check - The Battle

The Battle
Brother Godfroi and another monk meet on the battlefield

And then we gathered for battle. Almost 1000 people, most of them dressed in chainmail and holding huge shields, is an impressive sight. This is what I was greeted by at the Norman Muster, and I was shown which third I was responsible for blessing.
I gathered & co-ordinated my monk team, and then we marched out at the head of Norman Left. Norman Left were the first Normans to enter the field, and as they marched out in their lovely smart lines we were walking up and down the lines blessing them.
Then Norman Right came out and into position, and Norman Centre. At this point, the monks moved to the front of the ranks, the infantry all fell to their knees, and the monks blessed the army.
I also gave a personal blessing to Bishop Odo, head cleric of the Normans (and William the Conqueror's relative). Which made me very happy.

Then the monks moved behind the lines, and William entered at the head of the cavalry. 100 horses moving in close formation, all with armed & armoured riders, pounding the ground. A cheer came up from the Norman lines for their king, and for the Papal Banner he carried.
It was time for the fight. The Englisc held the top of the hill; the Normans had to attack up it. First came a volley of arrows, then our archers fell back as the infantry advanced. A clash at the top, then our infantry withdrew whilst our cavalry harassed them. Then the cavalry moved away, ready for the cycle to begin again. Archers; infantry; cavalry. Archers; infantry; cavalry. The Normans slowly wore the Saxons down, until finally the Saxons made a mistake. As the Norman Left Infantry retreated one time, the Saxons pursued. This broke their defensive structure, meaning the Norman Cavalry could smash them aside. With the flank broken, the Normans poured into the weakpoints. And the Saxons fell. England belonged to the Normans.
My job during all this was water carrying. The Infantry were advancing up a steep hill, on a hot day, in heavy armour. They needed lots of water! And then, after the battle, I gave last rites to the dead.

Saturday night was another hard party, with a band in the beer tent and far too much mead. And then Sunday was much the same as Saturday; another huge mindblowing battle. Followed by stripping camp and returning to Oxford. An amazing weekend, and I can't wait for the next big one!
Amazingly, Wychwood survived relatively unscathed. A few bruises, and one nasty shattered tooth (a blow that went too high). And, of course, some terrible hangovers...


Made by Hauk, DAS Secretary & Wychwood Old Git - Main page: www.haukr.co.uk - Email: haukragnarsson@googlemail.com