The Bayeux Tapestry: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Bayeux Tapestry.

  • The Bayeux Tapestry isn’t really a tapestry – it’s an embroidered linen cloth.
  • It is about 70 metres (230 ft) long.

  • It tells the story of the William the Conqueror‘s invasion of England and the Battle of Hastings.
  • The Bayeux Tapestry was probably made in England, having been commissioned by William I’s half-brother, Bishop Odo. It was discovered in the 18th century hanging in Bayeux Cathedral.
  • Wool yarn, coloured by vegetable dyes, was used for the embroidery and the work is divided into fifty panels.
  • The tapestry starts with a scene depicting Edward the Confessor sending Harold Godwinson to Normandy, and ends with English troops fleeing the battlefield at Hastings. The appearance of Halley’s Comet is also featured.
  • During the French Revolution, the tapestry was confiscated with the intention of using it as a covering for military wagons. Luckily, it was hidden by a local lawyer and kept safe until the troubles were over.
  • Charles Dickens was quite critical of the quality of the emboridery. After viewing it, he said, “It certainly is the work of amateurs; very feeble amateurs at the beginning and very heedless some of them too.”
  • The arrow sticking out of Harold Godwinson‘s eye in the tapestry would appear to be a later addition.
  • About 6 metres of the Bayeux Tapestry are missing. These scenes would probably have centered around William I’s coronation.
  • The Bayeux Tapestry was produced by the Normans, the victors in the Battle of Hastings. This must be taken into account when determining its accuracy as an historical source.
  • William Morris, in collaboration with Thomas Wardle and his wife Elizabeth, created a reproduction of the tapesrty in 1885. A team of more than 30 seamstresses were used to complete the work.
  • It is though that the Bayeux Tapestry was completed in the 1070s, several years after William’s victory in the Battle of Hastings.

Find out more about the Normans – click the link to visit the Primary Facts resource page.