1066 – Year Zero?
with Dr Sam Newton (Wuffing Education)
at the Suffolk Punch Trust, Hollesley (IP1 3JR)
on Saturday, 13th October, 2018.


During the English Civil War many people took the view that England lost its freedom in 1066 and had been suffering under the Norman yoke ever since.  This opinion has been rekindled throughout history, most recently around the time of the millennial events of 1966.  On the eve of the 952nd anniversary of the Battle of Hastings we shall reconsider this position in the light of contemporary sources, particularly the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which provides an almost continuous yearly narrative of events.

The resounding defeat of King Harald Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25th September that year is also said to mark the close of the Viking Age.  Certainly there were no more major Norwegian invasions, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle shows that the Danes continued to be a serious threat, and they came close to success with their famous ally Hereward ‘the Wake’ in 1069-1070.

There were rumours of further Danish invasions in 1075 and 1085. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle suggests that it was the latter that prompted King William to review his resources for the defence of the realm, which in turn led to his great ‘Domesday’ survey of England. William’s own doom soon followed and we shall finish the day with a look at his remarkable obituary, written by one who “knew him and who on him looked, and at times dwelt in his household” (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1086, ms E).

Provisional Programme

10.00 – 10.30:          Coffee on arrival

10.30 – 11.30:          England Before 1066

11.30 – 11.50:          Coffee break

11.50 – 12.50:          The Aftermath of the Battle of Hastings

12.50 – 13.50:          Lunch break

13.50 – 14.40:          Hereward and the Return of the Danes

14.40 – 15.00:          Tea break

15.00 – 15.50:          Domesday for King William

c.15.50:                   Thanks and Close

About Dr Sam Newton

Sam Newton was awarded his Ph.D at UEA in 1991.  He published his first book, The Origins of Beowulf and the pre-Viking Kingdom of East Anglia, in 1993, and his second, The Reckoning of King Rædwald: the Story of the King linked to the Sutton Hoo Ship-Burial, in 2003.  His most recent publication is “The Forgotten History of St Bótwulf (Botolph)”, The Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History, 43 (2016), pp. 521-50, which can also be seen on, and downloaded from, his Academia  webpage https://independent.academia.edu/SamNewton, along with some of his other papers.  He has lectured widely around the country and has contributed to many radio and television programmes, especially Time Team.  He is a tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, an accredited NADFAS / Arts’ Society lecturer, and a Director of the Wuffing Education Study-Day Partnership at Sutton Hoo.


At a previous Study Day by Sam, when asked ‘What was best about the day?‘ people said:

  • Informative, relaxed and inviting discussion
  • Sam’s breadth of knowledge, and enthusiasm for the subject, are inspirational
  • Once again, Sam’s effortless wide erudition – gave a true sense of perspective to the Stamford engagement
  • Sam’s enthusiasm and scholarship shine through in his presentations
  • Excellent lecture, talking with other pupils
  • Listening to some excellent lectures, laced with appropriate humour
  • Fascinating, thank you.
  • Sam’s enthusiasm and knowledge! Thank you
  • We were treated to well prepared talks delivered with erudition and humour.
  • Huge amounts of information drawn from impressive knowledge to illuminate a fascinating topic. Excellent handouts and powerpoints
  • Very interesting, well researched and beautifully illustrated.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

  • Allen Brown, R., The Normans and the Norman Conquest (London 1969)
  • Allen Brown, R., Castles, Conquest and Charters: Collected Papers (Woodbridge 1989).
  • Backhouse, J. (editor), The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art (British Museum 1984).
  • Barlow, F., The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042-1216 (Longman Group, 4th edition, 1988).
  • Barlow, F., Edward the Confessor (London 1970; Yale 1997).
  • Barlow, F., The Godwins (Pearson Longman 2002).
  • Bates, D., William the Conqueror (Yale University Press 2016).
  • Bevis, T.A., Hereward: The Siege of the Isle of Ely (Westrydale 1982).
  • Brink, S. & N. Price (editors), The Viking World (Routledge 2008).
  • Douglas, D.C., William the Conqueror: The Norman Impact Upon England (Eyre & Spottiswoode 1964).
  • Higham, R. & P. Barker, Timber Castles (London 1992; Exeter 2004).
  • Liddiard, R. (editor), Anglo-Norman Castles (Woodbridge 2003).
  • Magnusson, Magnus, & Hermann Pálsson (translators), King Harald’s Saga (Penguin Classics 1966).
  • Musset, L., The Bayeux Tapestry, translated by R.Rex (Boydell 2005).
  • Swanton, M. (editor & translator), The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Dent 1996; Phoenix 2000).
  • Williams, A., The English and the Norman Conquest (Boydell 1995).
  • Wood, M., “The Norman Yoke”, in his collected essays, Domesday: A Search for the Roots of England (BBC Classics 1990), pp. 3-22.