Monthly Archives: October 2016

Battle of Hastings – 14th October 1066

The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October

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The Battle of Hastings by Tom Lovell

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The Battle of Hastings was fought on 14 October 1066 between the Norman-French army of William, the Duke of Normandy, and an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson, beginning the Norman conquest of England. It took place approximately 7 miles (11 kilometres) northwest of Hastings, close to the present-day town of Battle, East Sussex, and was a decisive Norman victory.


The background to the battle was the death of the childless King Edward the Confessor in January 1066, which set up a succession struggle between several claimants to his throne. Harold was crowned king shortly after Edward’s death, but faced invasions by William, his own brother Tostig and the Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (Harold III of Norway). Hardrada and Tostig defeated a hastily gathered army of Englishmen at the Battle of Fulford on 20 September 1066, and were in turn defeated by Harold at the Battle of Stamford Bridge five days later.

The deaths of Tostig and Hardrada at Stamford Bridge left William as Harold’s only serious opponent. While Harold and his forces were recovering, William landed his invasion forces in the south of England at Pevensey on 28 September 1066 and established a beachhead for his conquest of the kingdom. Harold was forced to march south swiftly, gathering forces as he went.

The exact numbers present at the battle are unknown; modern estimates are around 10,000 for William and about 7,000 for Harold. The composition of the forces is clearer; the English army was composed almost entirely of infantry and had few archers, whereas only about half of the invading force was infantry, the rest split equally between cavalry and archers. Harold appears to have tried to surprise William, but scouts found his army and reported its arrival to William, who marched from Hastings to the battlefield to confront Harold.

The battle lasted from about 9 am to dusk. Early efforts of the invaders to break the English battle lines had little effect; therefore, the Normans adopted the tactic of pretending to flee in panic and then turning on their pursuers. Harold’s death, probably near the end of the battle, led to the retreat and defeat of most of his army. After further marching and some skirmishes, William was crowned as king on Christmas Day 1066.

There continued to be rebellions and resistance to William’s rule, but Hastings effectively marked the culmination of William’s conquest of England. Casualty figures are hard to come by, but some historians estimate that 2,000 invaders died along with about twice that number of Englishmen. William founded a monastery at the site of the battle, the high altar of the abbey church supposedly placed at the spot where Harold died.


In 911, French Carolingian ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings to settle in Normandy under their leader Rollo. Their settlement proved successful, and they quickly adapted to the indigenous culture, renouncing paganism, converting to Christianity,  and intermarrying with the local population.

Over time, the frontiers of the duchy expanded to the west. In 1002, King Æthelred II of England married Emma, the sister of Richard II, Duke of Normandy.  Their son Edward the Confessor spent many years in exile in Normandy, and succeeded to the English throne in 1042. This led to the establishment of a powerful Norman interest in English politics, as Edward drew heavily on his former hosts for support, bringing in Norman courtiers, soldiers, and clerics and appointing them to positions of power, particularly in the Church.

Edward was childless and embroiled in conflict with the formidable Godwin, Earl of Wessex and his sons, and he may also have encouraged Duke William of Normandy’s ambitions for the English throne.

Succession crisis in England

Following King Edward’s death on 5 January 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England.  Edward’s immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocrats and son of Godwin, Edward’s earlier opponent. Harold was elected king by the Witenagemot of England and crowned by Archbishop of York Ealdred, although Norman propaganda claimed that the ceremony was performed by Stigand, the uncanonically elected Archbishop of Canterbury.

Harold was at once challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this.  Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardrada, also contested the succession. His claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor Magnus I of Norway and the earlier King of England Harthacanute, whereby, if either died without heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway.  William and Harald Hardrada immediately set about assembling troops and ships for separate invasions.

Tostig and Hardrada’s invasions

In early 1066, Harold’s exiled brother Tostig Godwinson raided south-eastern England with a fleet he had recruited in Flanders, later joined by other ships from Orkney. Threatened by Harold’s fleet, Tostig moved north and raided in East Anglia and Lincolnshire. He was driven back to his ships by the brothers Edwin, Earl of Mercia, and Morcar, Earl of Northumbria. Deserted by most of his followers, he withdrew to Scotland, where he spent the middle of the year recruiting fresh forces.

Hardrada invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of more than 300 ships carrying perhaps 15,000 men. Hardrada’s army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who supported the Norwegian king’s bid for the throne. Advancing on York, the Norwegians occupied the city after defeating a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford.

English army and Harold’s preparations

The location of the Battle of Stamford Bridge

The English army was organised along regional lines, with the fyrd, or local levy, serving under a local magnate – whether an earl, bishop, or sheriff. The fyrd was composed of men who owned their own land, and were equipped by their community to fulfil the king’s demands for military forces. For every five hides,  or units of land nominally capable of supporting one household,  one man was supposed to serve.  It appears that the hundred was the main organising unit for the fyrd. As a whole, England could furnish about 14,000 men for the fyrd, when it was called out. The fyrd usually served for two months, except in emergencies.

It was rare for the whole national fyrd to be called out; between 1046 and 1065 it was only done three times, in 1051, 1052, and 1065. The king also had a group of personal armsmen, known as housecarls, who formed the backbone of the royal forces. Some earls also had their own forces of housecarls. Thegns, the local landowning elites, either fought with the royal housecarls or attached themselves to the forces of an earl or other magnate.[23] The fyrd and the housecarls both fought on foot, with the major difference between them being the housecarl’s superior armour. The English army does not appear to have had a significant number of archers.

Harold had spent mid-1066 on the south coast with a large army and fleet waiting for William to invade. The bulk of his forces were militia who needed to harvest their crops, so on 8 September Harold dismissed the militia and the fleet.  Learning of the Norwegian invasion he rushed north, gathering forces as he went, and took the Norwegians by surprise, defeating them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September. Harald Hardrada and Tostig were killed, and the Norwegians suffered such great losses that only 24 of the original 300 ships were required to carry away the survivors. The English victory came at great cost, as Harold’s army was left in a battered and weakened state.

William’s preparations and landing

Interior ruins at Pevensey Castle, some of which date to shortly after the Battle of Hastings

William assembled a large invasion fleet and an army gathered from Normandy and the rest of France, including large contingents from Brittany and Flanders. He spent almost nine months on his preparations, as he had to construct a fleet from nothing.[d] According to some Norman chronicles, he also secured diplomatic support, although the accuracy of the reports has been a matter of historical debate. The most famous claim is that Pope Alexander II gave a papal banner as a token of support, which only appears in William of Poitiers’s account, and not in more contemporary narratives.

In April 1066 Halley’s Comet appeared in the sky, and was widely reported throughout Europe. Contemporary accounts connected the comet’s appearance with the succession crisis in England.

William mustered his forces at Saint-Valery-sur-Somme, and was ready to cross the English Channel by about 12 August. But the crossing was delayed, either because of unfavourable weather or to avoid being intercepted by the powerful English fleet. The Normans crossed to England a few days after Harold’s victory over the Norwegians, following the dispersal of Harold’s naval force, and landed at Pevensey in Sussex on 28 September.

A few ships were blown off course and landed at Romney, where the Normans fought the local fyrd. After landing, William’s forces built a wooden castle at Hastings, from which they raided the surrounding area. More fortifications were erected at Pevensey.

Norman forces at Hastings

The exact numbers and composition of William’s force are unknown.  A contemporary document claims that William had 776 ships, but this may be an inflated figure. Figures given by contemporary writers are highly exaggerated, varying from 14,000 to 150,000. Modern historians have offered a range of estimates for the size of William’s forces: 7,000–8,000 men, 1,000–2,000 of them cavalry; 10,000–12,000 men; 10,000 men, 3,000 of them cavalry;  or 7500 men. The army consisted of cavalry, infantry, and archers or crossbowmen, with about equal numbers of cavalry and archers and the foot soldiers equal in number to the other two types combined.

Later lists of companions of William the Conqueror are extant, but most are padded with extra names; only about 35 named individuals can be reliably identified as having been with William at Hastings.

The main armour used was chainmail hauberks, usually knee-length, with slits to allow riding, some with sleeves to the elbows. Some hauberks may have been made of scales attached to a tunic, with the scales made of metal, horn or hardened leather. Headgear was usually a conical metal helmet with a band of metal extending down to protect the nose.[59] Horsemen and infantry carried shields. The infantryman’s shield was usually round and made of wood, with reinforcement of metal. Horsemen had changed to a kite-shaped shield and were usually armed with a lance.

The couched lance, carried tucked against the body under the right arm, was a relatively new refinement and was probably not used at Hastings; the terrain was unfavourable for long cavalry charges. Both the infantry and cavalry usually fought with a straight sword, long and double-edged. The infantry could also use javelins and long spears. Some of the cavalry may have used a mace instead of a sword. Archers would have used a self bow or a crossbow, and most would not have had armour.

Harold moves south

After defeating his brother Tostig and Harald Hardrada in the north, Harold left much of his forces in the north, including Morcar and Edwin, and marched the rest of his army south to deal with the threatened Norman invasion.  It is unclear when Harold learned of William’s landing, but it was probably while he was travelling south. Harold stopped in London, and was there for about a week before Hastings, so it is likely that he spent about a week on his march south, averaging about 27 miles (43 kilometres) per day, for the approximately 200 miles (320 kilometres).

Harold camped at Caldbec Hill on the night of 13 October, near what was described as a “hoar-apple tree”. This location was about 8 miles (13 kilometres) from William’s castle at Hastings. Some of the early contemporary French accounts mention an emissary or emissaries sent by Harold to William, which is likely. Nothing came of these efforts.

Although Harold attempted to surprise the Normans, William’s scouts reported the English arrival to the duke. The exact events preceding the battle are obscure, with contradictory accounts in the sources, but all agree that William led his army from his castle and advanced towards the enemy. Harold had taken a defensive position at the top of Senlac Hill (present-day Battle, East Sussex), about 6 miles (9.7 kilometres) from William’s castle at Hastings.

English forces at Hastings

The exact number of soldiers in Harold’s army is unknown. The contemporary records do not give reliable figures; some Norman sources give 400,000 to 1,200,000 men on Harold’s side.[j] The English sources generally give very low figures for Harold’s army, perhaps to make the English defeat seem less devastating.  Recent historians have suggested figures of between 5,000 and 13,000 for Harold’s army at Hastings, and most modern historians argue for a figure of 7,000–8,000 English troops.

These men would have been a mix of the fyrd and housecarls. Few individual Englishmen are known to have been at Hastings; about 20 named individuals can reasonably be assumed to have fought with Harold at Hastings, including Harold’s brothers Gyrth and Leofwine and two other relatives.

The English army consisted entirely of infantry. It is possible that some of the higher class members of the army rode to battle, but when battle was joined they dismounted to fight on foot The core of the army was made up of housecarls, full-time professional soldiers. Their armour consisted of a conical helmet, a mail hauberk, and a shield, which might be either kite-shaped or round. Most housecarls fought with the two-handed Danish battleaxe, but they could also carry a sword.

The rest of the army was made up of levies from the fyrd, also infantry but more lightly armoured and not professionals. Most of the infantry would have formed part of the shield wall, in which all the men in the front ranks locked their shields together. Behind them would have been axemen and men with javelins as well as archers.


Background and location


The battlefield from the north side

Because many of the primary accounts contradict each other at times, it is impossible to provide a description of the battle that is beyond dispute. The only undisputed facts are that the fighting began at 9 am on Saturday 14 October 1066 and that the battle lasted until dusk.  Sunset on the day of the battle was at 4:54 pm, with the battlefield mostly dark by 5:54 pm and in full darkness by 6:24 pm. Moonrise that night was not until 11:12 pm, so once the sun set, there was little light on the battlefield.

William of Jumieges reports that Duke William kept his army armed and ready against a surprise night attack for the entire night before. The battle took place 7 miles (11 km) north of Hastings at the present-day town of Battle, between two hills – Caldbec Hill to the north and Telham Hill to the south. The area was heavily wooded, with a marsh nearby. The name traditionally given to the battle is unusual – there were several settlements much closer to the battlefield than Hastings.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle called it the battle “at the hoary apple tree”. Within 40 years, the battle was described by the Anglo-Norman chronicler Orderic Vitalis as “Senlac”,[m] a Norman-French adaptation of the Old English word “Sandlacu”, which means “sandy water”.[n] This may have been the name of the stream that crosses the battlefield.[o] The battle was already being referred to as “bellum Hasestingas” or “Battle of Hastings” by 1087, in the Domesday Book.

Sunrise was at 6:48 am that morning, and reports of the day record that it was unusually bright. The weather conditions are not recorded. The route that the English army took to the battlefield is not known precisely. Several roads are possible: one, an old Roman road that ran from Rochester to Hastings has long been favoured because of a large coin hoard found nearby in 1876. Another possibility is a Roman road between London and Lewes and then over local tracks to the battlefield.

Some accounts of the battle indicate that the Normans advanced from Hastings to the battlefield, but the contemporary account of William of Jumieges places the Normans at the site of the battle the night before. Most historians incline towards the former view, but M. K. Lawson argues that William of Jumieges’s account is correct.

Dispositions of forces and tactics

Battle dispositions

Harold’s forces deployed in a small, dense formation at the top of steep slope, with their flanks protected by woods and marshy ground in front of them. The line may have extended far enough to be anchored on a nearby stream.  The English formed a shield wall, with the front ranks holding their shields close together or even overlapping to provide protection from attack.  Sources differ on the exact site that the English fought on: some sources state the site of the abbey, but some newer sources suggest it was Caldbec Hill.

More is known about the Norman deployment. Duke William appears to have arranged his forces in three groups, or “battles”, which roughly corresponded to their origins. The left units were the Bretons, along with those from Anjou, Poitou and Maine. This division was led by Alan the Red, a relative of the Breton count. The centre was held by the Normans,  under the direct command of the duke and with many of his relatives and kinsmen grouped around the ducal party.

The final division on the right consisted of the Frenchmen, along with some men from Picardy, Boulogne, and Flanders. The right was commanded by William fitzOsbern and Count Eustace II of Boulogne. The front lines were archers with a line of foot soldiers armed with spears behind.  There were probably a few crossbowmen and slingers in with the archers. The cavalry was held in reserve, and a small group of clergymen and servants situated at the base of Telham Hill was not expected to take part in the fighting.

William’s disposition of his forces implies that he planned to open the battle with archers in the front rank weakening the enemy with arrows, followed by infantry who would engage in close combat. The infantry would create openings in the English lines that could be exploited by a cavalry charge to break through the English forces and pursue the fleeing soldiers.

Beginning of the battle


View of the battlefield looking towards Senlac Hill

The battle opened with the Norman archers shooting uphill at the English shield wall, to little effect. The uphill angle meant that the arrows either bounced off the shields of the English or overshot their targets and flew over the top of the hill.

The lack of English archers hampered the Norman archers, as there were few English arrows to be gathered up and reused. After the attack from the archers, William sent the spearmen forward to attack the English. They were met with a barrage of missiles, not arrows but spears, axes and stones. The infantry was unable to force openings in the shield wall, and the cavalry advanced in support. The cavalry also failed to make headway, and a general retreat began, blamed on the Breton division on William’s left.

A rumour started that the duke had been killed, which added to the confusion. The English forces began to pursue the fleeing invaders, but William rode through his forces, showing his face and yelling that he was still alive. The duke then led a counter-attack against the pursuing English forces; some of the English rallied on a hillock before being overwhelmed.

It is not known whether the English pursuit was ordered by Harold or if it was spontaneous. Wace relates that Harold ordered his men to stay in their formations but no other account gives this detail. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the death of Harold’s brothers Gyrth and Leofwine occurring just before the fight around the hillock. This may mean that the two brothers led the pursuit. The Carmen de Hastingae Proelio relates a different story for the death of Gyrth, stating that the duke slew Harold’s brother in combat, perhaps thinking that Gyrth was Harold. William of Poitiers states that the bodies of Gyrth and Leofwine were found near Harold’s, implying that they died late in the battle.

It is possible that if the two brothers died early in the fighting their bodies were taken to Harold, thus accounting for their being found near his body after the battle. The military historian Peter Marren speculates that if Gyrth and Leofwine died early in the battle, that may have influenced Harold to stand and fight to the end.

Fact or Fiction E03 King Harold

Feigned flights

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry showing mounted Norman cavalrymen fighting Anglo-Saxon infantry

A lull probably occurred early in the afternoon, and a break for rest and food would probably have been needed. William may have also needed time to implement a new strategy, which may have been inspired by the English pursuit and subsequent rout by the Normans. If the Normans could send their cavalry against the shield wall and then draw the English into more pursuits, breaks in the English line might form.

William of Poitiers says the tactic was used twice. Although arguments have been made that the chroniclers’ accounts of this tactic were meant to excuse the flight of the Norman troops from battle, this is unlikely as the earlier flight was not glossed over. It was a tactic used by other Norman armies during the period.

Some historians have argued that the story of the use of feigned flight as a deliberate tactic was invented after the battle; most historians agree that it was used by the Normans at Hastings.

“Harold Rex Interfectus Est” (“King Harold was killed”). Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry depicting the Battle of Hastings and the death of Harold


Although the feigned flights did not break the lines, they probably thinned out the housecarls in the English shield wall. The housecarls were replaced with members of the fyrd, and the shield wall held. Archers appear to have been used again before and during an assault by the cavalry and infantry led by the duke. Although 12th-century sources state that the archers were ordered to shoot at a high angle to shoot over the front of the shield wall, there is no trace of such an action in the more contemporary accounts.

It is not known how many assaults were launched against the English lines, but some sources record various actions by both Normans and Englishmen that took place during the afternoon’s fighting.The Carmen claims that Duke William had two horses killed under him during the fighting, but William of Poitiers’s account states that it was three.

Death of Harold

Stone marking the spot of the high altar at Battle Abbey, where Harold died


Harold appears to have died late in the battle, although accounts in the various sources are contradictory. William of Poitiers only mentions his death, without giving any details on how it occurred. The Tapestry is not helpful, as it shows a figure holding an arrow sticking out of his eye next to a falling fighter being hit with a sword. Over both figures is a statement “Here King Harold has been killed”.

It is not clear which figure is meant to be Harold, or if both are meant. The earliest written mention of the traditional account of Harold dying from an arrow to the eye dates to the 1080s from a history of the Normans written by an Italian monk, Amatus of Montecassino.

William of Malmesbury stated that Harold died from an arrow to the eye that went into the brain, and that a knight wounded Harold at the same time. Wace repeats the arrow-to-the-eye account. The Carmen states that Duke William killed Harold, but this is unlikely, as such a feat would have been recorded elsewhere.

The account of William of Jumièges is even more unlikely, as it has Harold dying in the morning, during the first fighting. The Chronicle of Battle Abbey states that no one knew who killed Harold, as it happened in the press of battle.

A modern biographer of Harold, Ian Walker, states that Harold probably died from an arrow in the eye, although he also says it is possible that Harold was struck down by a Norman knight while mortally wounded in the eye. Another biographer of Harold, Peter Rex, after discussing the various accounts, concludes that it is not possible to declare how Harold died.

Harold’s death left the English forces leaderless, and they began to collapse.Many of them fled, but the soldiers of the royal household gathered around Harold’s body and fought to the end. The Normans began to pursue the fleeing troops, and except for a rearguard action at a site known as the “Malfosse”, the battle was over.

Exactly what happened at the Malfosse, or “Evil Ditch”, and where it took place, is unclear. It occurred at a small fortification or set of trenches where some Englishmen rallied and seriously wounded Eustace of Boulogne before being destroyed by Duke William.

Line Of Fire Battle Of Hastings 1066

Reasons for the outcome

Harold’s defeat was probably due to several circumstances. One was the need to defend against two almost simultaneous invasions. The fact that Harold had dismissed his forces in southern England on 8 September also contributed to the defeat. Many historians fault Harold for hurrying south and not gathering more forces before confronting William at Hastings, although it is not clear that the English forces were insufficient to deal with William’s forces.

Against these arguments for an exhausted English army, the length of the battle, which lasted an entire day, show that the English forces were not tired by their long march. Tied in with the speed of Harold’s advance to Hastings is the possibility Harold may not have trusted Earls Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria once their enemy Tostig had been defeated, and declined to bring them and their forces south. Modern historians have pointed out that one reason for Harold’s rush to battle was to contain William’s depredations and keep him from breaking free of his beachhead.

Most of the blame for the defeat probably lies in the events of the battle. William was the more experienced military leader, and in addition the lack of cavalry on the English side allowed Harold fewer tactical options. Some writers have criticised Harold for not exploiting the opportunity offered by the rumoured death of William early in the battle.  The English appear to have erred in not staying strictly on the defence, for when they pursued the retreating Normans they exposed their flanks to attack. Whether this was due to the inexperience of the English commanders or the indiscipline of the English soldiers is unclear.

In the end, Harold’s death appears to have been decisive, as it signalled the break-up of the English forces in disarray. The historian David Nicolle said of the battle that William’s army “demonstrated – not without difficulty – the superiority of Norman-French mixed cavalry and infantry tactics over the Germanic-Scandinavian infantry traditions of the Anglo-Saxons.”


The day after the battle, Harold’s body was identified, either by his armour or marks on his body. His personal standard was presented to William,  and later sent to the papacy.  The bodies of the English dead, including some of Harold’s brothers and his housecarls, were left on the battlefield,[121] although some were removed by relatives later.

The Norman dead were buried in a large communal grave, which has not been found. Exact casualty figures are unknown. Of the Englishmen known to be at the battle, the number of dead implies that the death rate was about 50 per cent of those engaged, although this may be too high. Of the named Normans who fought at Hastings, one in seven is stated to have died, but these were all noblemen, and it is probable that the death rate among the common soldiers was higher.

Although Orderic Vitalis’s figures are highly exaggerated,[w] his ratio of one in four casualties may be accurate. Marren speculates that perhaps 2,000 Normans and 4,000 Englishmen were killed at Hastings. The Normans buried their dead in mass graves. Reports stated that some of the English dead were still being found on the hillside years later. Although scholars thought for a long time that remains would not be recoverable, due to the acidic soil, recent finds have changed this view.

One skeleton that was found in a medieval cemetery, and originally was thought to be associated with the 13th century Battle of Lewes now is thought to be associated with Hastings instead.

Ruins of the monks’ dormitory at Battle Abbey


One story relates that Gytha, Harold’s mother, offered the victorious duke the weight of her son’s body in gold for its custody, but was refused. William ordered that Harold’s body be thrown into the sea, but whether that took place is unclear.

Another story relates that Harold was buried at the top of a cliff. Waltham Abbey, which had been founded by Harold, later claimed that his body had been secretly buried there. Other legends claimed that Harold did not die at Hastings, but escaped and became a hermit at Chester.

William expected to receive the submission of the surviving English leaders after his victory, but instead Edgar the Ætheling[y] was proclaimed king by the Witenagemot, with the support of Earls Edwin and Morcar, Stigand, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ealdred, the Archbishop of York. William therefore advanced on London, marching around the coast of Kent. He defeated an English force that attacked him at Southwark but was unable to storm London Bridge, forcing him to reach the capital by a more circuitous route.

William moved up the Thames valley to cross the river at Wallingford, where he received the submission of Stigand. He then travelled north-east along the Chilterns, before advancing towards London from the north-west,[z] fighting further engagements against forces from the city. The English leaders surrendered to William at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. William was acclaimed King of England and crowned by Ealdred on 25 December 1066, in Westminster Abbey.

Reenactment in front of Battle Abbey


Despite the submission of the English nobles, resistance continued to erupt for several years. There were rebellions in Exeter in late 1067, an invasion by Harold’s sons in mid-1068, and an uprising in Northumbria in 1068.[ In 1069 William faced more troubles from Northumbrian rebels, an invading Danish fleet, and rebellions in the south and west of England. He ruthlessly put down the various risings, culminating in the Harrying of the North in late 1069 and early 1070 that devastated parts of northern England.

A further rebellion in 1070 by Hereward the Wake was also defeated by the king, at Ely.

Battle Abbey was founded by William at the site of the battle. According to 12th-century sources, William made a vow to found the abbey, and the high altar of the church was placed at the site where Harold had died. More likely, the foundation was imposed on William by papal legates in 1070.

The topography of the battlefield has been altered by subsequent construction work for the abbey, and the slope defended by the English is now much less steep than it was at the time of the battle; the top of the ridge has also been built up and levelled.After the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey’s lands passed to secular landowners, who used it as a residence or country house. In 1976 the estate was put up for sale and purchased by the government with the aid of some American donors who wished to honour the 200th anniversary of American independence.

The battlefield and abbey grounds are currently owned and administered by English Heritage and are open to the public.

The Bayeux Tapestry is an embroidered narrative of the events leading up to Hastings probably commissioned by Odo of Bayeux soon after the battle, perhaps to hang at the bishop’s palace at Bayeux.In modern times annual reenactments of the Battle of Hastings have drawn thousands of participants and spectators to the site of the original battle.

 10 Things You May Not Know About William the Conqueror


  1. The Vikings in the region became known as the “Northmen,” from which “Normandy” and “Normans” are derived.
  2.  There is some slight confusion in the original sources about the exact date; it was most likely 5 January, but a few contemporaneous sources give 4 January.
  3. Other contenders later came to the fore. The first was Edgar Ætheling, Edward the Confessor’s great nephew who was a patrilineal descendant of King Edmund Ironside. He was the son of Edward the Exile, son of Edmund Ironside, and was born in Hungary where his father had fled after the conquest of England by Cnut. After his family’s eventual return to England and his father’s death in 1057, Edgar had by far the strongest hereditary claim to the throne, but he was only about thirteen or fourteen at the time of Edward the Confessor’s death, and with little family to support him, his claim was passed over by the Witan. Another contender was Sweyn II of Denmark, who had a claim to the throne as the grandson of Sweyn Forkbeard and nephew of Cnut, but he did not make his bid for the throne until 1069. Tostig Godwinson‘s attacks in early 1066 may have been the beginning of a bid for the throne, but threw in his lot with Harald Hardrada after defeat at the hands of Edwin and Morcar and the desertion of most of his followers he.
  4. The surviving ship list gives 776 ships, contributed by 14 different Norman nobles. This list does not include William’s flagship, the Mora, given to him by his wife, Matilda of Flanders. The Mora is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry with a lion figurehead.
  5. The comet’s appearance was depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, where it is connected with Harold’s coronation, although the appearance of the comet was later, from 24 April to 1 May 1066. The image on the tapestry is the earliest pictorial depiction of Halley’s Comet to survive.
  6.  Most modern historians agree on this date, although a few contemporary sources have William landing on 29 September.
  7. Most contemporary accounts have William landing at Pevensey, with only the E version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle giving the landing as taking place at Hastings.  Most modern accounts also state that William’s forces landed at Pevensey.
  8. Of those 35, 5 are known to have died in the battle: Robert of Vitot, Engenulf of Laigle, Robert fitzErneis, Roger son of Turold, and Taillefer.
  9. “Hoar” means grey, and probably refers to a crab-apple tree covered with lichen that was likely a local landmark.
  10. The 400,000 figure is given in Wace‘s Romance de Rou and the 1,200,000 figure coming from the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio.
  11.  Of these named persons, eight died in the battle – Harold, Gyrth, Leofwine, Godric the sheriff, Thurkill of Berkshire, Breme, and someone known only as “son of Helloc”.
  12. Some historians have argued, based on comments by Snorri Sturlson made in the 13th century, that the English army did occasionally fight as cavalry. Contemporary accounts, such as in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record that when English soldiers were forced to fight on horseback, they were usually routed, as in 1055 near Hereford.
  13.  This was the name popularised by Edward Freeman,a Victorian historian who wrote one of the definitive accounts of the battle.
  14. “Sandlacu” can be rendered into Modern English as “sandlake”.
  15. Freeman suggested that “Senlac” meant “sand lake” in Old English with the Norman conquerors calling it (in French) “sanguelac”. Freeman regarded this use as a pun because the English translation of “sanguelac” is “blood lake”.
  16. There is a story that the first fighting at Hastings was between a jongleur named Taillefer and some of the English fighters which comes from three sources: the Carmen de Hastingae Proelio, Wace’s Romance de Rou, and the 12th-century account of Henry of Huntingdon.The story has two versions, in one of which Taillefer entertained the Norman army prior to the battle by juggling a sword but then killed an English soldier sent to kill him. Another version has the jongleur charging the English and killing two before dying himself.
  17.  Examples of the use of feigned flight include the Battle of Arques around 1052, the Battle of Messina in 1060, and the Battle of Cassel in 1071.
  18. The issue is furthered confused by the fact that there is evidence that the 19th century restoration of the Tapestry changed the scene by inserting or changing the placement of the arrow through the eye.
  19.  Amatus’ account is less than trustworthy because it also states that Duke William commanded 100,000 soldiers at Hastings.
  20. Modern wargaming has demonstrated the correctness of not pursuing the fleeing Normans,with the historian Christopher Gravett stating that if in a wargame he allowed Harold to pursue the Normans, his opponent “promptly, and rightly, punished such rashness with a brisk counter-attack with proved to be the turning point of the battle — just as in 1066”.
  21. A 12th-century tradition stated that Harold’s face could not be recognised and Edith the Fair, Harold’s common-law wife, was brought to the battlefield to identify his body from marks that only she knew.
  22.  It is possible the grave site was located where the abbey now stands.
  23. He states that there were 15,000 casualties out of 60,000 who fought on William’s side at the battle.
  24. This skeleton, numbered 180, sustained six fatal sword cuts to the back of the skull and was one of five skeletons that had suffered violent trauma. Analysis continues on the other remains to try and build up a more accurate picture of who the individuals are.
  25.  Ætheling is the Anglo-Saxon term for a royal prince with some claim to the throne.
  26.  William appears to have taken this route to meet up with reinforcements that had landed by Portsmouth and met him between London and Winchester. By swinging around to the north, William cut off London from reinforcements.
  27. The first recorded mention of the tapestry is from 1476, but it is similar in style to late Anglo-Saxon manuscript illustrations and may have been composed and executed in England. The Tapestry now is displayed at the former Bishop’s Palace at Bayeux in France


Stephen McKeag – Top Gun ?

Stephen McKeag

Top Gun


Stephen McKeag (1 April 1970 – 24 September 2000), nicknamed “Top Gun“, was a Northern Irish loyalist and a Commander of the Ulster Defence Association‘s (UDA) ‘C’ Company in the 1990s. Although most of his operations took place from the Shankill Road in Belfast McKeag was actually a native of the lower Oldpark Road in the north of the city.


Stevie “Top Gun” McKeag
Stevie McKeag.png
Birth name Stephen McKeag
Born 1 April 1970
Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK
Died 24 September 2000 (aged 30)
Allegiance Ulster Defence Association
Rank Commander
Unit C-Company, West Belfast Brigade
Conflict The Troubles



The views and opinions expressed in this post and page are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors


Early years

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McKeag’s first group affiliation was with the white power skinhead gangs that existed on the Shankill and which were co-opted into the UDA’s youth wing Ulster Young Militants.  McKeag then became a born-again Christian and married young to a woman named Alison.[3] His interest in Christianity would diminish as he became more involved in the UDA, whilst his marriage also broke up.

Along with Adair and other younger figures, McKeag helped to fill the power vacuum left in the UDA by the deaths of John McMichael and Jim Craig and the departures of Andy Tyrie and Tommy Lyttle.


McKeag became involved in ‘C’ Company of the lower Shankill – the most active unit of the UDA – around 1989, heading his own section of the company which was a hit squad (other sections concentrating on drug-dealing, money laundering and similar activities).[2] According to Henry McDonald and Jim Cusack, the UDA gave an annual “Volunteer of the Year” award to the organisation’s top hitman.

The award, presented on the Shankill Road and usually consisting of a trophy in the form of a model gun and plaque made by loyalists prisoners, was dominated by McKeag from 1990 onwards and helped to ensure that he became known as “Top Gun” both to his UDA comrades and his republican opponents.

In all, the RUC estimated that McKeag was responsible for at least 12 killings, although the figure was placed higher by a number of his former paramilitary associates.

One of McKeag’s earliest attacks occurred on 11 March 1990 when he shot and killed Eamon Quinn outside his Kashmir Road home in the Clonard district of the Falls Road, beginning a long campaign of sectarian killings by the UDA.

On 31 July he was behind a similar attack on the Springfield Road, where Catholic John Judge was killed after being shot five times by McKeag and his unit. This was followed on 16 October by the killing of Dermot McGuinness in Rosapena Street in north Belfast.[8] Another victim was Seamus Sullivan, the son of former Belfast City Council member Jim Sullivan of the Workers’ Party, killed on 4 September 1991 at the council depot on Springfield Avenue where he worked.

Lawrence Murchan, a shopkeeper who was killed by McKeag and his unit on St James’s Road on 28 September was the 2000th person to be killed during The Troubles. This was followed on 14 November by an attack on the Devenish Arms in Finaghy, resulting in the death of civil servant Aidan Wallace and wounding an 8-year-old boy who lost an eye.


Lanark Way, known to McKeag as the “Yellow Brick Road”

Following his killing of Catholic shop worker Philomena Hanna at a chemists near the Springfield Road on 28 April 1992, eyewitnesses reported that as McKeag and his driver sped back to the Shankill via Lanark Way they shouted and sang his favourite song, ‘Follow the Yellow Brick Road’ from The Wizard of Oz.

Other UDA members later confirmed that the Yellow Brick Road was McKeag’s nickname for Lanark Way, a street linking the Shankill and Springfield roads and favoured by loyalist hitmen as an escape route from republican west Belfast. An attack on 14 November 1992, launched by McKeag, under the orders of Johnny Adair, on a branch of Sean Graham’s bookmakers on the Oldpark Road left three Catholics dead and a number of others, including some Protestants who also frequented the betting shop, injured.

As well as civilian Catholics, McKeag was also involved on attacks upon republicans. On 1 May 1993 Alan Lundy, a former Provisional IRA activist, was killed by McKeag at the home of Sinn Féin’s councillor Alex Maskey, in the Andersonstown area. McKeag struck again on 8 August 1993, killing Sean Lavery at the Antrim Road home of his father Bobby Lavery, a Sinn Féin councillor who had been the target of the attack.

However non-republicans continued to be targets and on 30 August he killed Marie Teresa Dowds de Mogollon in an attack on her home, although this murder was seen as extreme by UDA brigadiers outside C Company, resulting in it eventually being claimed as an accident when it was claimed under the UDA’s Ulster Freedom Fighters cover name.

This was followed on 7 September 1993 when McKeag and two other UDA members entered a hairdresser’s shop on the upper Donegall Road and shot the proprietor Sean Hughes dead. Although brought to trial he was not convicted after eyewitness testimony did not stand up to scrutiny. The following day shopkeeper Michael Edwards was killed at his Finaghy home by McKeag and his unit and on 15 October McKeag killed Paddy McMahon after calling for him to deliver a pizza to a derelict house.

McKeag was held in prison soon after this attack for the Hughes trial and the mantle of top hitman in C Company temporarily passed to Gary “Smickers” Smyth.

Following the killing of Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) leader Billy Wright by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) inside the Maze Prison in December 1997, Adair, who was a strong admirer of “King Rat”, told McKeag that he had carte blanche to avenge the murder. McKeag did so on 28 December when he entered the Clifton Tavern in north Belfast and opened fire with an uzi, killing Edmund Trainor and injuring a number of others.

On 23 January 1998 he was also involved in the killing of Liam Conway on north Belfast’s Hesketh Road although McKeag was brought before the Inner Council of the UDA for this attack as the movement had declared a ceasefire a few hours earlier. McKeag claimed that the attack was in response to the continuing activity of the INLA, and his fearsome reputation meant that the Inner Council would not reprimand him, even though the murder resulted in the Ulster Democratic Party being excluded from all-party talks.

By this time McKeag was effectively in command of C Company whilst Adair was in prison.


In June 1998 McKeag, a keen motorcyclist, suffered serious injuries when his vehicle collided with a car being driven by a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). He suffered a number of broken bones and required several operations, including the insertion of pins into his leg, and as a consequence he also developed an addiction to painkillers.

He also had a collapsed lung and stomach damage and for a time had to wear a urostomy bag.

A celebrated figure within loyalism for his exploits, cracks began to show in 1999, notably at an event at the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes on the Corcrain estate in Portadown where McKeag was mobbed by fans from the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) and on stage was applauded by all except his C Company comrades Adair and Gary “Smickers” Smyth. Smyth continued the resentment a few months later when, as McKeag received another “Volunteer of the Year” prize, he yelled “what about me” from the audience.

With Adair in prison and Smyth in temporary command of C Company, McKeag fell out of favour and was soon ordered off the Shankill, ostensibly for becoming involved in fights between women at illegal UDA-run drinking dens on the Shankill.

When Adair returned to the Shankill in the summer of 2000 he brought McKeag back in order to use him for the loyalist feud he was planning against the UVF. McKeag however refused to take part and was severely beaten by Adair and his allies and cut off from organised loyalism altogether.

Some within C Company, including William “Winkie” Dodds, felt that Adair had a long-term jealousy of McKeag’s exploits as a killer and argued that Adair had based much of his own reputation for violence upon activities actually carried out by McKeag.

It was also claimed in An Phoblacht, Sinn Féin’s official newspaper, that McKeag had been involved in a £70,000 cocaine deal that he had excluded Adair from, although the allegation was not quoted elsewhere. One of McKeag’s last violent actions was opening fire on police with an AK-47 during riots in response to the Drumcree conflict on Belfast’s Carlisle Circus, a junction at the base of the Crumlin and Antrim roads near the city centre.

Personal life

Physically McKeag, like Johnny Adair, was shaven-headed, muscular and heavily tattooed and he wore a miniature golden gun around his neck on a thick gold chain.  Maintaining a number of girlfriends simultaneously, McKeag fathered four children by four different women – two daughters both called Stephanie and two sons both called Stephen. In the case of one child, McKeag even delivered it himself after his Newtownards-based girlfriend broke her waters in his car, forcing him to pull into a petrol station to deliver the baby.

One of McKeag’s girlfriends was Jacqueline Newell who had previously been involved with Derek Adgey, a one-time member of the Royal Marines. Both Newell and Adgey were sentenced in 1995 for passing information about leading republicans including Brian Gillen and Alex Maskey to the UDA and it has been claimed that McKeag was their main point of contact with the organisation. McKeag was also dating Tracey Coulter, daughter of the UDA’s Jackie Coulter (loyalist), later murdered in a UDA/UVF feud.

Outside of his loyalist activities McKeag also had a reputation for having unusual hobbies. An animal lover, McKeag variously owned a Rottweiler dog, a parrot, an iguana, a scorpion, a snake and a collection of tropical fish, and had even attempted to purchase a monkey until his then live-in girlfriend prevented him from doing so.

He had an extensive collection of electronic gadgets and mixed rave music tunes as a hobby. He was also known for the flashy Christmas decorations with which he festooned his house every December, including flashing lights and plastic reindeer on the roof.

Death and aftermath

A mural commemorating McKeag on Hopewell Crescent, off Belfast‘s Shankill Road

McKeag was found dead by family members at his home at Florence Court off the Crumlin Road on 24 September 2000. With his face heavily bruised and a crossbow bolt embedded into the wall nearby, it was initially assumed that he had been killed; however a post-mortem found that his death was caused by a lethal combination of painkillers and cocaine.

Some of his supporters continued to blame Adair, due to the love triangle which emerged between him and McKeag when Tracey Coulter started sleeping with Adair too. It was claimed that Adair’s men had entered the house, attacked McKeag, who had fired the crossbow at them, and then forced quantities of cocaine down his throat in order to kill him. There was no evidence to support these claims.

McKeag was buried at Roselawn Cemetery in the east of the city in front of around 1,000 mourners, including Adair, Smyth and UVF/RHC representatives, with floral tributes sent by Ulster Young Militants and Combat 18.

Although by this time he was estranged from the leadership of C Company, McKeag’s litany of violence meant he retained his hero status with the younger members of the group and as a result a new mural was painted on the lower Shankill in commemoration of McKeag



The views and opinions expressed in this post and page are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland.

They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors



Hunting Season – The story of ISIS Hostages & their Captivity

Hunting Season

Click to buy the book



James Harkin

James Harkin’s The Execution of James Foley , Islamic State and the Real Story of the Kidnapping Campaign that Started a War.


In recent years the rise and at times almost unbelievable acts of brutality perpetuated by Islamic State and their deluded followers have dominated global News and shocked and sickened all right minded people the world over. The capture, torture and eventual beheading of Western hostages – often played out on social media in grotesque and gut retching details demonstrated that a new kind of terrorist stalks the corridors of modern times and their capacity for cruelty seems to know no boundaries .

In a few short years Islamic State have surpassed all previous terrorist groups for the sheer wickedness of their twisted ideology and their complete disregard for the sanctity of human life and sadly countless innocent people have died at the hands of these merchants of death.

The Islamic State’s ( and other terrorist groups ) policy of kidnapping has a long and profitable history in and around the middle East and other stomping grounds of IS and their terrorist franchise and yet the world and in particularly the West were largely ignorant of these actions until Western hostages started being publically displayed and beheaded by the mad men of IS.

Suddenly Islamic State were centre stage and the world watched in horror as one after the other the American and British hostages were paraded in front of a stunned worldwide audience and slaughtered in the most barbaric and senseless way possible.

James Harkin’s book Hunting Season takes us on a journey through the history and background of these kidnappings and is a must read for those interested in the rise and history of Islamic State and their shocking crimes.

The grief and hopelessness of the families of those in captivity destined to die in the wastelands of Islamic State’s backyard is heart breaking and the disgraceful lack of support from their respective governments should shame the politicians to the core.

Packed with background information about the kidnappings and conditions the hostages had to endure this book had me gripped from the first page and I read it in two days flat and was left with a bad taste in my mouth and full of sympathy for the families of those so brutally murdered.


On 19 August 2014, a member of the jihadist rebel group known as ISIS uploaded a video to YouTube. Entitled ‘Message to America’, the clip depicted the final moments of the life of kidnapped American journalist James Foley – and the gruesome aftermath of his beheading at the hands of a masked executioner. Foley’s murder – and the other choreographed killings that would follow – captured the world’s attention, and Islamic State’s campaign of kidnapping exploded into regional war.

Based on three years of on-the-ground reporting from every side of the Syrian conflict, Hunting Season is James Harkin’s quest to uncover the truth about how and why Islamic State came to target Western hostages, who was behind it and why almost no one outside a small group of people knew anything about it until it was too late. He reveals how the campaign of kidnapping and the development of Islamic State were joined at the hip from the beginning. The book is an utterly absorbing account of the world’s newest and most powerful terror franchise and what it means for modern war.


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Beheading in Islam

"Allah" in Arabic calligraphy

Beheading was a standard method of execution in pre-modern Islamic law, as well as in pre-modern European law. Its use had been abandoned in most countries by the end of the 20th century. Currently, it is used only in Saudi Arabia. It also remains a legal method of execution in Iran, Qatar and Yemen, where it is no longer in use.

In recent times, non-state Jihadist organization such as ISIL and Tawhid and Jihad use or have used beheadings. Since 2002, they have circulated beheading videos as a form of terror and propaganda. Their actions have been condemned by other militant and terrorist groups, and well as by mainstream Islamic scholars and organizations.


Beheading in Islamic scripture

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Two surahs which refer to “smiting the neck” of enemies are cited by the terrorists who argue that the Quran commands beheading:

When the Lord inspired the angels (saying) I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks until, when ye have routed them, making fast of bonds; and afterward either grace or ransom ’til the war lay down its burdens.

Scholars disagree about whether these surah refer specifically to beheading, but they are in agreement that they refer to killing the enemy by striking at the neck. Terrorists who use them to justify beheadings take them out of context.

Surah 47:4 goes on to recommend generosity or ransom when waging war. Furthermore, it refers to a period when Muslims were persecuted and had to fight for their survival.

Justification for beheading has also been drawn from the Siras and Hadiths. In one account, Muhammad is said to have ordered the beheading of at least six hundred males from the Jewish Banu Qurayza tribe, while another states that he was merely present and watched the beheadings and mass burial. There is no agreement among scholars as to the historical accuracy of this and similar accounts from the life of Muhammad.

Beheading in Islamic law

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Beheading was the normal method of executing the death penalty under classical Islamic law. It was also, together with hanging, one of the ordinary methods of execution in the Ottoman Empire.

Currently, Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world which uses decapitation within its Islamic legal system.

The majority of executions carried out by the Wahhabi government of Saudi Arabia are public beheadings, which usually cause mass gatherings but are not allowed to be photographed or filmed.

Beheading is reported to have been carried out by state authorities in Iran as recently as 2001, but as of 2014 is no longer in use. It is also a legal form of execution in Qatar and Yemen, but the punishment has been suspended in those countries.

Historical occurrences

Modern use by non-state actors

Modern instances of Islamist beheading date at least to the First Chechen War (1994–96), and to the beheading of Yevgeny Rodionov, a Russian soldier who refused to convert to Islam, whose subsequent beheading has led some within the Russian Orthodox Church to venerate him as a martyr.

The 2002 beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl by Al-Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in Pakistan drew international attention enhanced by the release of a beheading video.

Jihadist organization such as ISIL and Tawhid and Jihad use or have used beheadings. Since 2002, they have been mass circulating beheading videos as a form of terror and propaganda.

Beheadings have emerged as a terror tactic in Iraq since 2003. Civilians have borne the brunt of the beheadings, although U.S. and Iraqi military personnel have also been targeted. After kidnapping the victim, the kidnappers typically make some sort of demand of the government of the hostage’s nation and give a time limit for the demand to be carried out, often 72 hours. Beheading is often threatened if the government fails to heed the wishes of the hostage takers. Frequently the crude beheadings are videotaped and made available on the Internet. One of the most publicized murders of an American was that of Nick Berg.

Since 2004 insurgents in South Thailand began to sow fear in attacks where men and women of the local Buddhist minority were beheaded. On 18 July 2005 two militants entered a teashop in South Thailand, shot Lek Pongpla, a Buddhist cloth vendor, beheaded him and left the head outside of the shop.

According to Peter R. Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, viral beheading videos are intended, and are at least somewhat effective, as a recruiting tool for jihad among both Western and Middle Eastern youth. Other observers argue that while Al Qaeda initially used beheading as a publicity tool, it later decided that they caused Muslims to recoil from Islamism and that although ISIS/IS is enthusiastically deploying beheading as a tactic in 2014, it, too, may find that the tactic backfires.

Timothy R. Furnish, as Assistant Professor of Islamic History, contrasts the Saudi government executions, conforming to standards that minimize pain, with the non-state actors who have “chosen a slow, torturous sawing method to terrorize the Western audience.”

ISIL beheading incidents

In January 2015, a copy of an ISIL penal code surfaced describing the penalties it enforces in areas under its control, including beheadings. Beheading videos have been frequently posted by ISIL members to social media.

Several of the videoed beheadings were conducted by Mohammed Emwazi, whom the media had referred to as “Jihadi John” before his identification.

The beheadings received wide coverage around the world and attracted international condemnation. Political scientist Max Abrahms posited that ISIL may be using well-publicized beheadings as a means of differentiating itself from Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and identifying itself with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al-Qaeda member who beheaded Daniel Pearl.

The publicised beheadings represent a small proportion of a larger total of people killed following capture by ISIL.

Condemnation by Muslims

Mainstream Islamic scholars and organizations around the world, as well as militant and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda have condemned the practice.


Why Public Beheadings Get Millions of Views



Daniel Pearl

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U.S. citizen, beheaded February 1, 2002, in Pakistan by al-Qaeda jihadists




James Foley

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U.S. citizen, beheaded August 19, 2014, south of Raqqah, Syria by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant jihadists

Steven Sotloff

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U.S. citizen, beheaded in August 2014, south of Raqqah, Syria by ISIL jihadists

David Cawthorne Haines

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U.K. citizen, beheaded in September 2014 in Syria by ISIL jihadists

Hervé Gourdel

French citizen, beheaded in September 2014, east of Algiers, Algeria by Jund al-Khilafah jihadists supporting ISIL.

Alan Henning


U.K. citizen, beheaded in October 2014, in Syria by ISIL jihadists

Peter Kassig

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U.S, citizen beheaded in November 2014, in Dabiq, Aleppo, Syria by ISIL jihadists

Eighteen Syrian soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army, beheaded in November 2014, in Dabiq, Aleppo, Syria by ISIL jihadists


Haruna Yukawa

Japanese citizen, beheaded in January 2015 by ISIL jihadists.

Kenji Goto

Japanese citizen, beheaded in January 2015 near Raqqa, Syria, by ISIL jihadists.

Twenty–one Egyptian Coptic Christians, beheaded in February 2015 near Tripoli, Libya, by ISIL jihadists

Twenty–eight Ethiopian Christians, beheaded in Libya in April 2015 by ISIL jihadists

A video (article published July 2015) shows a boy executing a Syrian soldier using a knife, while within Palmyra.

Four Kurdish Pershmerga members, beheaded in Iraq in October 2015 by ISIL jihadists

Buy the Book

20 Interesting facts you might not know about Belfast…..

Belfast Child

20 things you might not know about Belfast


1. Titanic was built in Belfast

2. Tourism brings £123 million to Belfast every year


3. Belfast Zoo is home to the only group of purple-faced langurs in Europe


4. John Wood Dunlop invented the pneumatic tyre in Belfast


5. Liam Neeson first trod the boards at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre

6. Napoleon’s nose overlooks the city


7. Queen’s University taught both Protestants and Catholics from 1845


8. Poet Seamus Heaney, David Trimble and Irish President Mary MacAleese are all alumni of Queen’s University

Heaney's work was a reminder that poetry could be for everyone while still being profound.

9. James Murray invented Milk of Magnesia in Belfast

Image result for old milk of magnesia blue bottles


10. Belfast’s famous cranes are called Samson and Goliath. Some women think they should be called Samson and Delilah Cranes


11. One third of the population of Northern Ireland lives in Belfast

12. Women could hold any office at Queen’s University in…

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