Lonely Planet Writer

Hyde Park set to be invaded by Saxon and Norman warriors this weekend on 1066 anniversary

This weekend  a “battle camp” of Saxon and Norman warriors will set up in London’s Hyde Park. The pop-up encampment is part of 950th anniversary of 1066, which saw King Harold and his Saxon army defeated by the Normans.

London's Hyde Park is set for invasion for 1066 anniversary
London’s Hyde Park is set for invasion for 1066 anniversary Image by ©English Heritage

The camp, near Apsley House on the south-east corner of Hyde Park, offers visitors the chance to find out more about Saxon and Norman England, learn about the weapons used during the battle and play traditional Norman games. A kitchen will offer samples of food from the period and there will be demonstrations of medieval crafts including smithing, leather-working and willow-weaving.  Re-enactors will tell their side of the story and the battle will be recreated using vegetables.

Re-enactors prepare for battle.
Re-enactors prepare for battle. Image by ©English Heritage

It’s all part of a wider march which sees a group of costumed re-enactors recreate the epic journey of King Harold. The King defeated his rival Harald Godmundson at Stamford Bridge, near York, before heading south to Hastings where – apparently after being hit in the eye by an arrow – he was killed and his army routed. The march began on 25 September in York and culminates in a re-enactment of the epic battle at Battle on 15-16 October.

Saxons and Normans battle it out.
Saxons and Normans battle it out. Image by ©English Heritage

1066 is viewed as a pivotal moment in English history. The Saxons had dominated England since the Roman armies departed in the fifth century. The Normans built castles and monasteries and formed a feudal governing elite, transforming the country and founding, according to some observers, England’s famous class system.