The last week of the Autumn term, just before we broke up for our well-deserved Christmas holiday the leaking pond liner in the environmental area was being replaced by our groundsman.
While they were digging the old pierced liner out they struck a metal object which they thought was peculiar. They investigated further and as you could imagine were further surprised by its size and shape; large, flat and circular.
When they had secured it out of the wet, squelchy mud they quickly hosed it down. With the mud washed away what was revealed appeared to be an ancient shield.
Ken, the groundsman had his son, Jack working with him. Jack is an ex pupil of Meath Green and he brought the shield into school for us to see. We washed off the remaining mud and gave it a wipe......... It definitely was a shield!
The next day was the last day of term. At the end of our final assembly we shared the exciting news about the shield with the school and news of the discovery was also shared in the newsletter. It caused a flurry of excitement.
The discovery of the shield prompted questions from pupils and staff……
What was the shield doing on the school grounds?
What period of history was the shield from?
Was the shield genuine?
Was the school built on an ancient village?
Could there have been an ancient battle on the school grounds?
If it was genuine and it could talk what stories and adventures could the shield tell us about?
Staff spent time over the holiday researching more about the shield, its origins and how it might have come to be buried on the Meath Green field.
This is what we found………
The shield seems to be similar to those used by the late Saxons
This is very interesting as there is a suggestion that King Harold, the last Anglo Saxon King and his army is said to have spent a night in Horley, at Thunderfield Castle on his way down to confront William of Normandy (later William the Conqueror) in Battle where the Battle of Hastings was fought in 1066.
What is also very interesting is that Thunderfield Castle was situated on a heath (fields) which covered most of Horley, starting around near where Horley Row is now and going up through where the airport is. The castle itself, a moated house was situated around where Haroldslea Drive is (named after King Harold).
So it is conceivable that the Saxon army camped on Thunderfield Heath, which would have included our school fields!!
This could be why the shield has ended up on our field!
If that was not enough, there is more…………………
The Legend of Haroldslea Drive
Local legend has it that each year on 11th November sometime after dark a bell tolls (sounds) soon after there is the sound of marching along the road. Many people have heard the marching with others reporting that they have seen the ghostly outline of soldiers marching with their shields and swords to a battle somewhere…. ????
Background information to the Battle of Hastings 1066
King Harold lived under the threat of invasion from the Vikings in the North sailing over from Scandinavia and to the South the Normans from France.
In 1066 his worst nightmare came true. He got the message that his Viking enemy, King Harald Hardrada had landed with what is estimated to be an a fleet of 900 ships in the York. King Harold assembled his army and had to march them the 270 miles to confront them. On the 25th September 1066 at the battle of Stamford Bridge, East Yorkshire he and his army fought hard to defeat the strong Viking. In doing so he suffered many casualties.
He then received the devastating news that William of Normandy was about to send his army over the channel in the South (the opposite end of the country) to invade.
Quickly he had to act. He gathered his battered troops and marched them down as fast as he could to meet William. On his march down towards Battle near Hastings, he is reputed to have rested a night at Thunderfield Castle in Horley.
On the 14th October 1066 Harold met William in a famous Battle, the Battle of Hastings. Harold lost and was famously killed by being shot in the eye by a Norman archer. It was the last time Britain was invaded.
This is a section of the Bayeux tapestry that was sewn by the women of Normandy to commemorate the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066. It seems to depict Norman soldiers discovering a tunnel, is this linked in any way to the story of Harold and Thunderfield?
Folklore legends are that the sink holes that keep appearing in Horley are due to an elaborate network of tunnels dug by the Saxons linking important sites such as Thunderfield Castle and the Heath. Built as a means of escape in case of attack.
One theory is that the Castle is linked in some way to an area near the school.