Understanding the English Succession: 1051-66

 Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on Understanding the English Succession: 1051-66
Nov 262016

This activity for KS3 or GCSE has four brief stages with each stage representing a different date – 1051, 1059, 1065, January 1066. For each date students position individuals in relation to the crown to create a visual representation of who seemed most likely to be Edward’s successor at each date. I’ve tried to keep things as clear as possible, which isn’t easy given the complexity of the debates over the succession to the English crown in 1066. I’ve added notes on what historians are saying about the succession and why the idea of ‘rules’ about who had the best claim are misleading and hence unhelpful for students at any level.

See the activity HERE …


 Posted by at 10:03 am

Nationalities and Family Connections: 1066

 Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on Nationalities and Family Connections: 1066
Nov 202016

It’s easy for students to assume that Edward the Confessor and Harold were English in every respect because they appear in the story of 1066 as the English leaders in contrast to the Norman Duke William. This short activity is designed to help students understand that the issue of nationality was more complicated than that!

I’ve also included a second very short simple activity about the pattern of English kings before 1066 – English or Danish? – to help students appreciate that kings of England were not necessarily English.

See the activities HERE …


 Posted by at 11:47 am

Why was William able to invade England in 1066?

 Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on Why was William able to invade England in 1066?
Nov 192016

This brief activity for GCSE (and possibly for KS3) looks at the longer-term Norman background to 1066, focussing on how William’s invasion was made possible by a combination of his military successes against neighbouring states and good fortune.

By the end of this activity students should know and understand that:

a) William had faced and beaten a number of attacks from surrounding states during the 1050s

b) If Edward the Confessor had died before 1060 William would have had great difficulty invading England because of threats to Normandy

c) William’s successes created a breathing space from local wars enabling him to invade England in 1066

d) His resulting reputation as a successful soldier enabled him to recruit followers for his invasion of England and he was able to recruit soldiers who would not have been keen to leave their lands if local wars were continuing.

See the activity HERE …


 Posted by at 10:22 am

New Activity: Impact of the Normans – with character cards

 A Level, Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on New Activity: Impact of the Normans – with character cards
Sep 042016

This excellent activity comes from Catherine Flaherty who has done both a great deal of research to create the character cards and has suggested a wide range of ideas for using them to develop students’ understanding of the impact of the Conquest.

There are 30 character cards providing biographical details of individuals who lived through the Conquest.

The core tasks involves distributing the cards amongst your students so they each identify with the person on their card. Then set them a task or tasks.

You can find the activity and a variety of possibilities here …


 Posted by at 2:07 pm

Teaching about the Norman Conquest

 A Level, GCSE, Info, KS3, Normans  Comments Off on Teaching about the Norman Conquest
Jul 172016

Many people are about to teach the Norman Conquest at GCSE for the first time – these items may be useful to you.

Item 1. Two videos of 20 minute lectures by Carl Watkins of the University of Cambridge discuss key aspects of the Conquest – the words are both valuable and interesting even if the video quality suggests they were filmed by a KGB spy in the 1950s using a camera hidden in a briefcase. As they are on the Cambridge History Faculty website I assume nothing underhand was going on!

Lecture 1 HERE …

Lecture 2 HERE …

Item 2. The Royal Armouries is holding a two day conference on the Conquest on the weekend of 14-15 October at the Tower of London. The programme consists of a battery of 40 minute talks by a host of eminent academics but the intended audience for the conference seems to be teachers and the interested public rather than academics.

Full details HERE …

Item 3. There’s a host of books around about the Conquest and William the Conqueror but I’ve recently much enjoyed two books in the Penguin Monarchs series which has a 100pp book for each reign from Athelstan to Elizabeth II. The two for this period which are currently out are:

William II: The Red King by John Gillingham – Gillingham is always been one of the most readable historians so this is the ideal introduction to William ‘Rufus’.

See Amazon HERE …

Stephen: The Reign of Anarchy by Carl Watkins – you probably aren’t teaching about Stephen but it’s an engrossing book nevertheless, exploring whether this really was a period of ‘anarchy’ and the various contingent circumstances that led to both Stephen’s succession and the ensuing civil war.

See Amazon HERE …

(I’ve provided Amazon links so you can see the contents list but they’re cheaper on Book Depository and elsewhere!)

The  book on William I by Marc Morris is due out in August (on my birthday if anyone in my family is reading this).

Item 4. The Historical Association has a range of material on aspects of the Conquest, some of which are free to non-members

See HERE … and HERE …

Item 5. A series of short films by historian, Marc Morris:

See it on YouTube HERE …

Item 6. In Our Time Radio 4 programmes on

The Battle of Stamford Bridge HERE …

Domesday Book HERE …

The Norman Yoke HERE …

Hope this is useful


 Posted by at 2:43 pm

The York coin hoards c.1066-1069 – raw material for intriguing lesson introductions

 Activities, GCSE, KS3, Normans, Primary  Comments Off on The York coin hoards c.1066-1069 – raw material for intriguing lesson introductions
Jun 062016

(c) York MuseumsAmbling through the glorious Yorkshire Museum earlier this year I noticed a case containing a scattering of coins spilling out of a broken pot. As I was just completing a GCSE book on the Norman Conquest I was intrigued to discover that the coins date from the late 1060s.

Further enquiries to the Museum led to an email from the Curator of Numismatics, Andrew Woods, who provided details of three coin hoards found in York from this period.

These notes provide information on these hoards and provide outline ideas for using them in the classroom to introduce events in the north between 1066 and 1070.

Read more [ here ].


 Posted by at 10:56 am