Year 10

Battle of Hastings

I can give an account of the Battle of Hastings.

Year 10

Battle of Hastings

I can give an account of the Battle of Hastings.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. William of Normandy invaded England after Harold had fought the Battle of Stamford Bridge.
  2. Harold's army consisted of an elite of housecarls with the majority being the untrained peasant conscripts of the fyrd.
  3. Harold held the high ground on Senlac Hill with a shield wall.
  4. William’s army mainly consisted of professional soldiers using a mix of archers and cavalry charges.
  5. William's tactics brought him victory while Harold and many Anglo-Saxon nobles were killed.

Common misconception

The shield wall was not a very sophisticated or effective military tactic.

In fact the shield wall proved effective in holding off the Norman attacks for many hours.


  • Fyrd - the Anglo-Saxon fyrd was an army made up of mostly untrained conscripts from England’s peasant population

  • Housecarl - the housecarl was an elite unit of the Anglo-Saxon army: a well-trained and well-equipped soldier

  • Knight - the knight was the elite unit of the Norman army: a soldier who fought on horseback, riding a specially-trained war horse

  • Shield wall - a shield wall is a military tactic where soldiers stood in a long line overlapping their shields to form a wall of shields

  • Feigned retreat - a feigned retreat is when soldiers pretend to retreat in order to lure the enemy into a more vulnerable position

The Bayeux Tapestry is a rare contemporary account of this period, which offers a visual scene-by-scene breakdown of the Battle of Hastings. Interweaving the Bayeux Tapestry with modern battle maps is a great way to bring this event to life.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

Who was defeated at the Battle of Stamford Bridge?
Correct answer: Tostig Godwinson
Correct answer: Harald Hardrada
Harold Godwinson
William, Duke of Normandy
The was the group that was raised to defend the southern coast after Harold Godwinson's coronation.
Correct Answer: fyrd, Fyrd
A group of ships, or all of the ships in a country's navy is known as a .
Correct Answer: fleet, Fleet
Which of the following statements are important in explaining Harold’s victory at Stamford Bridge?
The Vikings were not equipped with weapons.
Correct answer: The Vikings were not all wearing armour.
Correct answer: Harold’s surprise attack
Harold’s army never crossed Stamford Bridge.
Who landed on the south coast of England three days after the English victory at Stamford Bridge?
Correct answer: William Duke of Normandy
Harold Godwinson
Tostig Godwinson
This keyword is used to describe the people injured or killed in a war or in a specific battle.
Correct Answer: Casualties , casualties

6 Questions

What are housecarls?
Correct answer: an elite unit of the Anglo-Saxon army: well-trained and well-equipped soldiers
the elite unit of the Norman army: soldiers who fought on horseback
an army made up of mostly untrained conscripts from England’s peasant population
What signalled the start of the battle?
Correct answer: trumpets
Harold's arrival
housecarls calling
What was the preferred formation of the English army?
feigned retreat
Correct answer: shield wall
positioning at the top of a hill
How long did the battle last?
one hour
three hours
five hours
Correct answer: eight hours
Who tipped back his helmet to show he was still alive?
Harold Godwinson
Correct answer: William, Duke of Normandy
Harold’s brother, Leofwine
Which tactic did William reportedly use to successfully weaken the English shield wall?
archers' attack from behind the shield wall
downhill charge by knights
Correct answer: feigned retreat

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