From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present


East Sussex
50° 51' 3"4.9 N 0° 34' 20.3"

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Hastings is a seaside town of East Sussex in England. It has a full history with the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and was also a Mediaeval Cinque port. Hastings was also the birth place of television. It is also a fishing port with the largest beach based fleet.

Ironage hillforts are located on the east and west hills of the town and may have protected early settlements in the valley. Flint arrowheads and bronze age artifacts have been found in the area. During Roman times the town thrived due to the iron in the rocks around Hastings. Beauport Park, to the north of the town was the main site for iron works and employed around 1000 men which made it the third largest workings in the Roman empire. When the Romans left, Hastings was left wide open to attacks from Danish raiders but it survived. A Royal Mint was established in 928 in the reign of Athelstan.

Hastings is famous for the Norman Conquest. Fought on the 14th October in 1066 eight miles away to the north on Senlac Hill, William landed close to Hastings at a site known as Normans Bay and camped close to the town. William defeated Harold Godwinson then King of England which opened up England to the Norman invasion. William built a motte and bailey castle at Hastings and it is thought it is located on the site of an earlier Saxon Castle.

In the middle ages Hastings became one of the 42 Cinque Ports, a military and trade outpost. Cinque Ports were the closest ports to Europe so trade could flourish and in times of trouble they kept war ships at the ready.

The town was washed away in 13th century and in the 14th century the town was twice raided and burnt to the ground by the French. The days of Hastings being a port were over. A new sheltered harbour was attempted but failed during the reign of Elizabeth I when the foundations were destroyed by storms and the sea. The last harbour project was started in 1896 but failed when structural problems exhausted the available funding. A broken harbour arm remains to this day even though it was partially blown up in World War II to help stop the threat of invasion. Because of this, fishing boats are still stored and launched from the beach.