Landscape (UK)



The 1066 Country Walk is a reasonably easy, long-distance footpath of 31 miles. It commemorat­es the places associated with the Battle of Hastings, linking the sites and events that were significan­t in 1066, as well as some subsequent historic locations. Starting, or ending, depending on the direction of travel, at Pevensey Castle, the walk heads north to the Levels. It passes Herstmonce­ux Castle, Battle Abbey and the battlefiel­d, medieval Winchelsea, and ends in Rye. Much of the route passes through the High Weald Area of Outstandin­g Natural Beauty and a guide is available that breaks the walk into six manageable, day-walk sections, each taking 3-4 hours. Along its route, walkers pass 10 striking wooden sculptures by Keith Pettit, a sculptor based in East Sussex. Each piece is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry and the 1066 heritage. “The really exciting aspect to this project was being able to immerse myself in a story that had always fascinated me,” says Keith. “I grew up not far from Pevensey and the site of William’s landing. I vividly remember a school topic on Pevensey Castle, and a school visit, and I visited it often with my mum as a child. I was very aware that I lived within the area where this momentous event had played out. Every tree and hedge; every hill and field had almost certainly been witness to elements of this, and my imaginatio­n constantly populated this historical stage.” Keith was approached by Rother District Council and invited to put together a submission to help in the restoratio­n of the 1066 Country Walk; the plan being to turn it into a long-distance sculpture trail. Creating the 10 sculptures plus 10 benches took Keith two and a half years. “The brief I put together stated that all the pieces would be inspired by the 1066 story, referencin­g the Bayeux Tapestry as the primary visual resource, local folklore and the natural history of the place,” he says. “They would also have the potential to draw upon other local histories. Almost all the oak I used came from a local sawmill. I used some elm in the project too, which was felled in the constant fight against Dutch elm disease, from just along the coast at Seaford.” Keith aimed to give each of the sculptures a strong sense of ‘belonging’ to its immediate environs. “So, at Pevensey Castle, there’s a bench inspired by the ships in William’s fleet, which are recorded in the tapestry, landing on the English Coast,” he explains. “Near Battle Abbey, a charred figure looms from the surroundin­g woods, split down the middle by an arrow, bound at the head by a golden crown. This piece denotes both Harold and William, divided by conflict but bound by the desire for the Crown. Near Winchelsea, a lone figure made from a huge elm pollard stands at the edge of a field: a lone sentinel forever on guard watching the Channel for the Norman invasion fleet.”

 ?? ?? To explore the 1066 Walk is to stroll through history, and Keith’s magnificen­t sculptures, here in situ, serve to bring the past vividly into the present.
To explore the 1066 Walk is to stroll through history, and Keith’s magnificen­t sculptures, here in situ, serve to bring the past vividly into the present.

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