IT  has been a key site in British history for almost 1,000 years.

Hundreds of people gather each October to recreate the fateful day in 1066 when King Harold’s forces were defeated by those of William the Conqueror, allowing the Norman to take the throne.

But now officials have banned this year’s Battle of Hastings re-enactment from going ahead eight months before it was due to start.

English Heritage said the ground at Battle was in such a bad condition that it would be unsafe to host the event there in mid-October.

Last year’s battle was abandoned halfway through after heavy rainfall, leaving chainmail-clad people disappointed.

English Heritage said that last year’s wet weather had affected the protected site so much that it would not be suitable.

A spokesman said: “On expert advice, it has been decided the area needs to be re-seeded and rested to enable it to fully recover and establish a more robust grass surface.

Saving field

“This action will help us to balance the best management of this iconic battlefield, given the potential impact changes in weather patterns are likely to have, with our underlying wish to continue staging events which so graphically illustrate this key event in our history.

“Although we appreciate that many people will be disappointed, we hope the events we are staging in other parts of the site this year will be enjoyed by thousands of abbey visitors and that by taking this action now, we will be able to safeguard large scale events in the future – with the aim to reinstate them from 2014.”

Councillor Kathryn Field, who represents Battle on Rother District Council, said: “The battlefield is still incredibly damaged from last year.

“This is for people’s safety.

“We regret it can’t go ahead on the battlefield but it is not permanent.”

English Heritage said that the re-enactment would be replaced with events in Battle Abbey, including theatre performances.

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