Invasion that transformed England in 1066 is commemorated with English Heritage restaging

More than 1,000 soldiers have re-enacted English historys defining battle on the site in East Sussex where it took place 950 years ago.

Swords clashed, arrows flew and maces swung on Saturday as a group of chainmail-clad participants played out the 1066 Battle of Hastings a conflict that changed the face of England.

There were falconry and weaponry displays, historical lectures and living history camps for 8,000 people attending the event, which also runs on Sunday.

By the coast near Hastings on 14 October 1066, the forces of Harold and Duke William of Normandy met. Anglo-Saxon King Harold was killed and William seized the English throne, in a battle whose bloodshed was later immortalised in the Bayeux tapestry. William earned his epithet of the Conqueror and in time the town of Battle grew up around an abbey built to commemorate the event.

A group of re-enactors end their 300-mile cross-country journey in Battle. Photograph: Tom Pugh/PA

Prior to Saturdays re-enactment, a core group of diehards had marched for three weeks on foot and horseback starting in York, echoing the journey King Harold made to fight nearly 1,000 years ago.

The march, organised by English Heritage, was part of a series of events marking the 950th anniversary of the events of 1066 and the Norman conquest.

Marching into central London, the re-enactors joined a pop-up Saxon encampment in Hyde Park on 8 October.

Nigel Amos, who led the 1066 march on behalf of English Heritage, said: I have been involved in re-enactment for many years and for me this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Phil Harper, a spokesman for English Heritage, said it was the biggest event for several years.

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