A quick scan of the British Library’s catalogue reveals that more than twenty books entitled The Battle of Hastings have been published in recent years, plus several others involving ‘1066’ or ‘Harold II’ – and that’s ignoring anything on the Bayeux Tapestry. Britain’s favourite battle has also been the theme of umpteen television documentaries featuring the Snows or the other Richard Holmes on horseback, surrounded by plucky extras wearing conical helmets. Bearing in mind R Allen Brown’s telling comment that the only undisputed fact about Hastings was that the Normans won, do we need yet another account?
Harriet Harvey Wood has the sense to cite this aperçu, but it has not inhibited her from recycling old material. As the subtitle implies, her real interests lie in the rich culture of Anglo-Saxon England – not just the wealth that attracted the greedy Normans, but the institutions, art and