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Grave error of Hastings battle buffs?
It is one in the eye for Battle Abbey and scores of history buffs.
A Shoreham-based historian is claiming to have uncovered evidence that the Battle of Hastings did not take place on Senlac Hill, as history books have taught for generations.
John Grehan, of Mary’s Place, Emerald Quay, said the supposed site of the struggle, marked by Battle Abbey, is a mile away from the real scene of combat in 1066.
He points out that no human remains or artefacts from the conflict have ever been found near Battle Abbey, even though some 10,000 men are believed to have died there.
His theory is that the real site of the fighting was the steep Caldbec Hill, to the north-west of Hastings.
The 61-year-old wants archaeologists to begin digging at the hill to see if any remains of battle victims are there.
He said: “I assumed everything was known about the Battle of Hastings but I found that almost nothing is known by way of fact.
“Excavations have been carried out at Battle Abbey and remnants pre-dating the battle were found, but nothing relating to the conquest.
“Some 10,000 men died at the Battle of Hastings; there has to be a mass grave somewhere.”
The Shoreham resident believes Harold never left his defensive hilltop position and the Normans took the battle to the English.
He has studied contemporaneous documents in the national archives and built up a dossier of circumstantial evidence that he believes proves his theory.
Mr Grehan has made his arguments in a book called The Battle of Hastings – The Uncomfortable Truth, to be published in January.
He added: “Two days after the battle the Normans moved on towards Winchester. They had two days to get rid of the thousands of bodies. You can’t dig that many graves in such a short space of time.
“At the bottom of Caldbec Hill is Malfosse ditch. I believe the bodies were rolled down the hill and dumped in this ditch, which was filled in.
“A proper archaeological dig of that ditch needs to happen.”
The battle is famously documented in the Bayeux Tapestry and each year members of historical re-enactment groups, assuming the role of Saxon and Norman soldiers, re-enact the Battle of Hastings at Battle Abbey.
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