Remembering the Battle of Hastings

Sian Evans
06th October 2016
battle of hastings, 1066,medieval history, 950th anniversary,950th anniversary battle of hastings,primary,secondary,history,ks1,ks2,ks3,bayeux tapestry

Engage primary and secondary students with the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings, fought on 14 October 1066, is one of the most famous turning points in English history. After a battle lasting over nine hours, William of Normandy and his army defeated the English under King Harold, which allowed William to assume the throne.

950 years later, investigate the battle that changed the course of history with this selection of lesson ideas, activities and presentations, suitable for primary and secondary. Plus, we’ve hand-picked some resources that examine the Bayeux Tapestry and its value as a primary source to tie into one-off lessons or your existing scheme of work.

Primary resources

Introduce young learners to the Battle of Hastings, and the events leading up to it, with this overview presentation*. Displayed as a top secret case file, it will quickly appeal to future detectives as they explore details about the Normans and Anglo-Saxons side-by-side.

Uncover more about the key historical figures with this enquiry lesson, which encourages pupils to vote for who they think would have made the best king and who had the best chance of winning, before looking into how events unfolded. Or, why not compare Harold Godwinson’s and Duke William's claims to the throne with this debate activity? By splitting the class into two, you can facilitate a discussion about Harold and William's strengths and weaknesses.

Secondary resources

Contextualise the Battle of Hastings with this introductory lesson, in which learners consider the three contenders to the throne in early 1066 and explain their justifications for who has the strongest claim.

Alternatively, study what happened during the battle by using this cartoon strip outline as a creative way to engage learners with the day's chronological events. For a more analytical approach, explore whether Harold lost or William won with this detailed lesson that looks at the battlefield, leadership skills and elements of luck.

Interpreting the Bayeux Tapestry

Discover what the Bayeux Tapestry can teach students about the events leading up to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. Use this comprehensive resource pack, full of varied teaching ideas, to find out more about the cloth as an object, what the imagery depicts and what historians have learnt from it.  

Check understanding with this easy-to-use card sort activity*, which allows pupils to match captions to visual scenes from the tapestry. Once students are clear about the events and chronology, use this in-depth lesson to scrutinise the detail of what’s depicted and round-off with learners designing their own piece of the tapestry in groups.

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