Events: Hastings (Bunni's Diary)

In October 2006, Wychwood went to Hastings.

Most of Wychwood fought on the Englisc side, up at the top of the hill. Where they died glorious deaths.

Bunni, on the other hand, made full monastic kit, got a tonsure, and went as a Norman Monk-Clerke. Bunni wrote the following diary.


We took a minibus from Oxford, filled to the brim with stuff- tents, shields, food, students…

We spent most of the journey desperately making kit- mainly making scabbards, although at least one Wychwooder had to desperately finish their actual kit! In order to re-enact at Hastings, you need to be able to look like someone from 1066. This involves, as a minimum, 1 pair of shoes, 1 pair of trousers, 1 overtunic and 1 undertunic. One of us had none of the above…

Anyway. We eventually got to Battle, found our campsite, set up, went shopping.
Got a few bargins- especially a very nice wooded spoon for 2 pounds (where I wish I'd thought at the time to buy lots of spoons to distribute later amongst Wychwood freshers and so on, because they were all sold out by the next morning when I went back) and a strap end for my belt. Forgot to get rivets that would fit it tho, whoops…
Wychwooders got shoes, so that they could all pass Kit Checks the next day.

The night then becomes a bit of a blur. I remember meeting up with someone from my college at Oxford who lives in Hastings, I remember much quaffing of mead, I remember meeting Russians and Italians and lots of other people- all of whom shared whatever horrific spirit their country is famous for.
Suffice to say, by the next morning randoms were already referring to me at the Drunk Monk, and people I didn't recognise were asking me how my head was…

Saturday Morning

I was awakened bright and early by Wychwood shouting to wake my tent-mate to make him finish his kit. I kicked him awake, and staggered outside.
I felt great. The day was beautiful, Wychwood was beautiful, the grass was beautiful, the concept of creating kit was beautiful. Everyone was shocked at how great I was feeling until they realised I was using my Cunning Plan for Festival Happiness- wake up drunk.

So, I frolicced merrily around the show, helping Wychwood with rivetting and forcing people to sew and so on.

Kit check for me was fine, the monk kit checking person was someone I'd chatted to on yahoogroups already. So it basically consisted of him saying "Fine. Nice tonsure by the way, extra points for that". w00t. The rest of Wychwood also passed, which was good.

Then I had a meeting to discuss what us monks were going to do. I got given the whole of the Norman left flank, and two spare costumes with orders to dress randoms as monks and lead them in blessing the troops at the start of the battle.

A bit of shopping, then a few more meetings, and finally it was the battle.

Saturday Battle

750 people, most of them dressed in chainmail and holding huge shields, is an impressive sight. This is what I was greeted by at the Norman Muster, and I was shown which 250 I was responsible for blessing.

I co-ordinated my monk team, and then we marched out at the head of Norman Left. Norman Left were the first Normans to enter the field, and as they marched out in their lovely smart lines we were walking up and down the lines blessing them.

Then Norman Right came out and into position, and Norman Centre. At this point, the monks moved to the front of the ranks, and each team blessed their flank. 250 infantry and about 50 archers on each flank, all falling to their knees as we stand up the front and proclaim:

In Nomine

Patris, et Fillii, et Spiritus Sancti


Such a wonderful moment. With only a slight powertrip ;)

I did the Norman Left and also helped the Norman Center, and then Bishop Odo himself (a relative of William's, and the only cleric on the battlefield who went fully armed and fought in the ranks) came up to me to receive his personal blessing. Which was beautiful, and made me squee in fangirlish glee.

Then us monks disappeared behind to lines, and took up the role of water carriers. The Normans had a lot of marching up and down hills to do, and in full chainmail they got bloody hot and dehydrated. So we were rather welcomed whenever we came along the ranks with our buckets of water!

As well as water carrying, we also spent quite a lot of time watching the battle. Which was amazing, let me tell you. There were over 1500 infantry, and at least three quarters (1000 or so?) were in full chainmail. Also there were around 150 archers, letting off huge volleys of arrows in between each infantry clash. And, best of all, the Norman Cavalry. 100 horses moving in close formation, pounding up through the lines of infantry, wheeling and then charging along the English lines…

The battle was just mindblowing, basically, made even more so by the fact it was being done on the same day and on the same hill as the original battle over 900 years ago.

At the end, I met up with all the other monks and we walked over the battlefield giving last rites to the fallen.

Saturday Night / Sunday

Saturday night, everyone was in a great mood. Having been part of something that special had thrown us all into such a state.

So we partyied hard. Wychwood went to the authentic encampment, and spent the night around a fire with some ex-members of Wychwood. Not just any old ex-members tho, but ex-members who'd gone down in Wychwood legend for The Bollock Warming Incident (kilts + a fire = fun). Meeting them was great, especially as they turned out to be really really nice people with a great sense of fun and good singing voices.
There was lots of singing.

Also, lots of mead. And cider.

After a few hours at their tent, some of us decided to investigate The Big Party in the beer tent. Cue a moshpit full of topless Eastern Europeans spotting the monk dancing and descending upon the poor monk, sending me crowdsurfing. Rock on.
Then I met up with another re-enactment mate, and went to her camp. Where we discussed re-enactors in moshpits, and how they're strange affairs as re-enactors are good at making combat look intense but actually be incredibly polite, safe and non-violent.
Then a bit of a drunken stagger around the whole campsite looking for Wychwood and meeting randoms ("Hey, you're the drunken monk! I've heard about you, I've got to have a photo of us together!"), and then back to bed.

Sunday was basically a re-run of Saturday, in a good way. I managed to find several friends at the end of the battle, when I was blessing the dead. Which was fun.

And then we stripped camp, piled into the minibus, and headed home. Knackered, but very very happy. I'd been looking forward to this for months, and it was everything I could have asked for and more.

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