The Battle of Hastings and The Norman Conquest

A. 1066 and the Battle of Hastings

The following unit of study is built around an online simulation in which students take the role of King Harold Godwineson. They have to take a series of decisions about how best to keep their throne. As events unfold they learn all about the major events and use this to complete a detailed worksheet which focuses on analysing key scenes from the Bayeux Tapestry.

Download this entire unit as one ZIP file!

Blind Date, 1066!

A roleplay exercise enabling students to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the various contenders for the English throne in 1066. As a homework, students produce a propaganda poster for the candidate of their choice. There are teacher notes available along with a presentation and a sample poster.

The Battle for the throne: 1066 [Interactive simulation] [printable worksheet | online worksheet]

A decision-making simulation as King Harold - will you survive the challenges to your throne? This is a major activity that should keep students busy for at least a couple of lessons (they are even given a certificate with a score at the end that could be recorded in a markbook). As an extension activity, students should complete the Key word list by playing the game a second time; this can later be used as the basis for a factual test or a Fling the Teacher challenge (the first few people to finish the quiz successfully get rewards!).

Bayeux Tapestry Slideshow

The lesson could start by watching a Bayeux Tapestry Animation on YouTube. Then, view a series of interactive images from the Bayeux Tapestry with analysis of their meaning. Designed to be used to help teachers in a feedback session after students have completed the worksheet accompanying the game above. There is a teacher helpsheet available for this task. As a follow-up, students could do this Bayeux Tapestry Jigsaw Quiz.

Order the events correctly - classroom challenge

Students cut and paste the information into the correct order [teacher answer sheet available].

Biased Report: Why did William the Conqueror win the Battle of Hastings? | Marksheet

Students then use their completed timeline to produce a biased newspaper report [teacher sample report available].

Essay Task: Why did William the Conqueror win the Battle of Hastings? | Teacher notes

Working with the same points as last lesson, students now categorise these factors to decide whether William's victory was down to luck, his skill, or Harold's mistakes. They then turn this into their first history essay.

Key word list | Teacher version

Students should complete this list either as they progress through the unit, and use their completed work to see how they perform in the following quiz:


B. The Norman Conquest

What sort of a man was William the Conqueror? [Interactive]

A Head2Head interview with the Norman hero! Complete with a range of worksheets and lesson plans and a teacher sheet. You can ask William any question you like, and he answers by means of artificial intelligence calling upon a massive database of answers. A completely original way of learning about the Norman Conquest!

Hereward the Wake Cut 'n' Paste Activity
Use Word, Publisher and the net to reconstruct the story of this Saxon resistance fighter and produce their own report (c.1 hour in classroom, can be split into 2 sessions).

The Feudal System
Students have to construct their own diagram of the feudal system based on examples in this powerpoint presentation. A sample piece of work from a former student is available here.

The Domesday Book [1]: What was it?
An introductory worksheet to the Domesday Book - what it was, what it asked, why it was produced.

The Domesday Book [2]: How useful is it?
This second worksheet encourages students to start thinking about "usefulness" as a sourcework concept by comparing the strengths and weaknesses of this source to that of the Bayeux Tapestry and (if they have studied it) the Luttrell Psalter.

William the Conqueror: Who and When? [Interactive]
A Head2Head interview with the Norman hero! Students can complete one or both of the following worksheets as a homework or extension activity:
Timeline of Events in William's Reign
Key Characters in William's Reign

End of Topic Debate: Was William a Hero or a Villain?
The class is divided into two groups to debate the key question in the format of a courtroom trial.

End of Unit Test: Structured Question
Students are presented with a variety of possible test questions to revise from. The teacher then chooses one of these questions at random in a subsequent lesson as a timed exercise.

Extension / Homework Activities
The Gruesome end of William the Conqueror - Sourcework and "code-breaking" activity
Interactive Timeline of William's Life - A consolidation activity I designed for
Who Killed King William Rufus?
- Analyse and categorise the evidence to solve this medieval mystery! 
The Normans "Fling the Teacher" game - Great as an end of unit factual test - award 20 points to the person to finish first, and then a sliding scale thereafter!


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