October 14th, 1066 AD. 700 Norman ships appear in the choppy waters of the English Channel, make their way onto the beaches and an army disembarks. Some 4500 infantry and 1700 archers form lines. William the Conqueror would earn his moniker here as he faced roughly 8,000 soldiers under King Harold Godwinson that occupied the high ground, Senlac Hill, about 6 miles from Hastings.
A rout is what happens when one side begins to run and the other side pursues them. Then they only run faster and faster and more are slaughtered and the chances of forming a coordinated defense are almost null. The Norman flights of arrows into the English lines were largely ineffective as the English had huge interlocking shields, and pike men to stop charging cavalry and peltasts. The English had a lower tech army but one with no where to go really. The Norman infantry charged up the hill did not break the English lines.
The Breton division of cavalry on Williams left faltered and ran. Troops looking to see what happened also saw William go down when in fact it was just his horse that went down. So the Franks thought their King had fallen and they started to run. So did the Flemish. But on the way out, many key components of the British front line broke ranks and joined in what they thought was unfolding as a rout.
Well when the front line left, so went the shield wall, So William ordered archers to open fire and now their arrows found good targets among the English line, what remained of it and the line began to falter. Later when the French broke through the lines Harold Godwinson was hit in the eye with an arrow.
It is at this Hastings Castle that guests see a woman carrying a baby near the edge of a cliff. It is at the battlefield that they say blood runs out of the ground when it rains there. People also see a Norman Knight and a hooded monk. It is at Hastings that Godwinson’s ghost is seen roaming on October 14th.