Highways and Byways in Sussex - online book

An illustrated appreciation, of the most interesting districts in Sussex.

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horses and pursued and butchered the unprepared enemy singly in the open country. A complete rout followed. The false step was decisive.
Not till night, however, did Harold fall. He upheld his standard to the last, hedged about by a valiant bodyguard who resisted the Normans till every sign of life was battered out of them. The story of the vertically-discharged arrows is a myth. An eye-witness thus described Harold's death : "An armed man," said he, " came in the throng of the battle and struck him on the ventaille of the helmet and beat him to the ground ; and as he sought to recover himself a knight beat him down again, striking him on the thick of the thigh down to the bone." So died Harold, on the exact site of the high altar of the Abbey, and so passed away the Saxon kingdom.
That night, William, who was unharmed, though three horses were killed under him, had his tent set up in the midst of the dead, and there he ate and drank. In the morning the Norman corpses were picked out and buried with due rites; the Saxons were left to rot, According to the Carmen William I. had Harold's body wrapped in purple linen and carried to Hastings, where it was buried on the cliff beneath a stone inscribed with the words : " By the order of the Duke, you rest here, King Harold, as the guardian of the shore and the sea." Mr. Lower was convinced of the truth of that story; but William of Malmesbury says that William sent Harold's body to his mother the Countess Gytha, who buried it at Waltham, while a third account shows us Editha of the Swan Neck, Harold's wife, wandering through the blood-stained grass, among the fallen English, until she found the body of her husband, which she craved leave to carry away. William, this version adds, could not deny her.
Fuller writes in the Worthies, concerning the wonders of Sussex :" Expect not here I should insert what William of Neivbury writeth (to be recounted rather amongst the Untruths than Wonders); viz. ' That in this County, not far from
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