UNFINISHED TALE IN NEEDLE AND WOOL
The Bayeux Tapestry depicts the story of the Norman Conquest and is thought to have been commissioned in the 1070s by Bishop Odo of Bayeux, half-brother to William the Conqueror. Measuring approximately 230ft (70m) in length and 20in (51cm) in height, it is a work of embroidery, rather than tapestry, stitched in woollen yarns onto linen. It represents pictorially and chronologically the many stories around the Conquest, depicting, among other things, William’s sea journey, marches and battles. Even the appearance of Halley’s Comet is shown, pictured right. Its story begins with the future King Harold being sent to Normandy by Edward the Confessor, to tell William of his succession to the English throne. Given that the work was created in France, it is perhaps unsurprising that this version of events is represented. Intriguingly, the end of the tapestry has been lost. It finishes with images of the fleeing Anglo-Saxons after the Battle of Hastings, but, when it was rediscovered in a cedar chest in Bayeux Cathedral in the 15th century, it ended in frayed threads. It is thought that approximately 10ft (3m) of the work had vanished or perhaps was never completed. Depictions for the missing end have now been conjecturally created, using the same techniques as for the original. Informed guesses have been made to make three new scenes depicting events after the Battle of Hastings and ending with William’s coronation. The new work was undertaken mostly by Alderney islanders, who spent a year on the project, and 416 people contributed at least one stitch each, including the then Prince of Wales, now King Charles III, who is a descendant of William the Conqueror. The Bayeux Tapestry resides in the Bayeux Tapestry Museum in Normandy, but it is hoped that it will be visiting Britain during 2023. The new end is displayed near the original tapestry.