Battle Abbey to offer visitors a new perspective

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Visitors coming to see the 1066 battlefield next summer will, for the first time, be able to get a birds-eye view of the landscape on which the most famous battle on English soil was fought.

As part of its re-presentation of the 1066 site, English Heritage plans to open up the roof of the Great Gatehouse of William the Conqueror’s abbey – founded where King Harold died – giving visitors a whole new perspective.

A new exhibition inside the Great Gatehouse will explore the lead up, location and legacy of the battle including a blow by blow account of the day itself, from dawn to dusk.

New interpretation will also be installed in the visitor centre and across the battlefield.

The project is just one part of English Heritage’s programme, ‘1066: Year of the Normans’ to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings next year.

Kate Mavor, English Heritage’s chief executive, said: “The Battle of Hastings was a decisive hinge on which English history turned, defining the country’s political, social and geographical landscape for centuries to come.

“English Heritage will mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman Conquest with an exciting programme of events and activities throughout the year.

“Central to this will be our re-presentation of the most famous battlefield in England.”

English Heritage’s conservation team is due to start work on the gatehouse shortly.

Repairs are being made to the masonry, ensuring the turrets and roof are both wind and weather tight to protect the interiors and enable visitors to stand on the roof.

Early investigations have already uncovered two forgotten staircases, leading up to rooms high up within the gatehouse’s turrets.

The use of these remains a mystery to curators – possibly secure treasuries – but will be subject to further research that may shed new light on later uses of the building.

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