Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 12.03.01
Quebec City


Hands off my heroes

Another myth is about to bite the dust.

Apparently, a group of amateur historians in Britain want to open up the grave of what may be the last Saxon king of England.

For those of you who grew up after they stopped teaching history in school, the king in question was Harold Godwinson or Harold II.

According to legend, Harold died at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

In typical British fashion, the Battle of Hastings was actually fought nearby at Senlac Hill.

But "Hastings" was much easier for students to remember.

Anyway, legend has it that Harold mustered his troops and stood against William the Conqueror's Norman army until he caught an arrow in the eye and died immediately afterwards.

The reason that the amateur history buffs aren't sure Harold is actually in Holy Trinity Church in Bosham, West Sussex, is that his body disappeared after the battle.

It's believed his daughter, Ealdgytha Swan-neck, found the body under a pile of other dead Saxons the next day.

She, in turn, buried it in secret to keep it away from the Normans who were fond of sticking enemy heads on pikes and that sort of thing.

Anyway, the amateurs want to know if the remains are really Harold's and they'd also like to know if there is evidence of the arrow-in-the-eye story.

The only thing stopping them is the Chichester diocesan consistory court which has to give the go-ahead.

Personally, I hope they don't.

Since I was a kid I loved the story of Harold and his valiant stand against the Normans.

The romantic idea of taking an arrow in the eye defending Saxon England against the Normans gave history life.

Meddling historians have already ruined Robin Hood.

He's now dismissed at best as a local thief and at worst as mere fiction.

Those same eggheads have blown Bonnie Prince Charlie's cover as well.

They now tell us his first language was probably French or - hold on to your tartan - Italian.

Gaelic would have been incomprehensible to him. So would have been the actions of the clansmen at Culloden Moor who spent most of the battle arguing amongst themselves while the British artillery blew them to oatmeal.

And so it goes.

Rob Roy really was a cattle thief. Lord Nelson missed the first few days of every campaign because he was chronically sea sick.

Winston Churchill was a lousy father, a poor husband, and he drank too much.

Can't they leave at least one myth intact?

All I can say to the archeological sand sifters is -- hands off my heroes.