After sixty years of assaults from violent Saxon invaders, the Roman fort of Anderida was weary with war but its ordeal had only just begun. A few centuries later another invader, William of Normandy, landed nearby and turned it into Pevensey Castle by building upon the old Roman walls.
The remains of the first castle to be built in England after William's invasion, Hastings Castle, can be seen on the town's West Hill. Its famous 'whispering dungeon' is still intact and there's a special audio-visual display 'the 1066 Story' which captures the bloody thrills of the invasion that led to the creation of the castle.
Nearby Bodiam Castle lies next to the River Rother and was built in the late 14th century by a veteran of King Edward III's wars with France. Just as the scars of Battle Abbey and Pevensey Castle betray their roles in many different conflicts, so the perfectly preserved walls of Bodiam reveal its relatively untroubled existence. The similarly moated Herstmonceux Castle has also enjoyed a quiet life. Built in the 15th century, it embodies the gentler side of medieval history and the romance of renaissance Europe.
The streets of Hastings and 1066 Country bear the bruises of a history far more recent than 1066. From Hastings Old Town's moving remembrance garden where the Swan Inn once stood (and several people were killed by a stray German bomb) to the various pill boxes and fortifications along the Camber and Rye coast, the landscape is littered with war artefacts. The smash hit ITV period drama series 'Foyle's War' is set and shot in Hastings Old Town and fans of the show can see key locations for themselves.
Yesterday's World in Battle brings history to life in a series of vividly recreated walk-through displays which allow visitors to touch, taste and experience different periods of the past. The Rye Heritage Centre is a fantastic way of introducing yourself to the town as it brings together several major exhibits to fully convey the complex past and fascinating present of this unique maritime maze.
Hastings Castle is a fascinating part of history and includes 'The 1066 Story' - an exciting 20 minute audio-visual programme covering the Conquest...