Embroidery as a Communication Tool

Embroidery as a Communication Tool

The Bayeux Tapestry is arguably the most famous piece of embroidery in history. Yet, when it was rediscovered 300 years ago, the final section appeared to be missing. Until now.

Nearly 1,000 years ago, as William the Conqueror sat on his newly-won English throne, a team of embroiderers laboured over a tapestry intended to immortalise his achievement.

The tapestry, chronicling the Norman conquest of England and that battle in 1066, is regarded as a marvel of medieval Europe. However, since it was “rediscovered” by scholars in the 18th Century, its original final scene has been missing.

Instead, the final scenes showed the death of Harold Godwinson, the Anglo-Saxon king, and his unarmoured troops fleeing following their defeat at Hastings. No one is certain how much longer the original tapestry was or what it showed, but most experts believe it was an 8-10ft (2.5-3m) piece including a depiction of William’s coronation on Christmas Day in 1066.

Now, a team of embroiderers on Alderney, a small island just off the coast of William’s native Normandy, have “finished” the job. The project took a year to complete and every effort was made to ensure it fitted in with its famous forebear. Embroiders used the same techniques, fabrics, colours and similar types of wool to the medieval original.

The new tapestry is the same height as the original and 3m (10ft) long, with four panels showing events following the Battle of Hastings, culminating in William’s coronation. The finished work is set to be displayed in the room next to the original tapestry at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum in Normandy.