28 April 2021

Archaeology Online: What is missing from the Bayeux Tapestry?

Explore the Bayeux Tapestry and discover what is missing from the story it tells.

The Bayeux Tapestry is one of the most famous documents of British history and a masterpiece of medieval art. It depicts the events leading to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

This story and the imagery is well known to many. Cartoon-like, animated and extensive, it allows us to get to know the key characters – King Edward, Earl Harold and Duke William, as well as William’s half-brother, Odo Bishop of Bayeux (the likely patron of the embroidery).

It follows the complex nature of the English session crisis resulting from Edward’s childless marriage to Harold’s sister, albeit from a specific (some suggest Norman) perspective.

In this talk, Professor Michael Lewis will unravel the story told in the Bayeux Tapestry, but also examine what is not shown. As it stands, the Tapestry presents a binary conflict between Harold and William for the English throne, putting to one side other events and happenings. It will be argued that this is purposeful, advantageous to both men, and designed to create a narrative that helps the English accept William as their king.

Speaker: Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiquities & Treasure at the British Museum and Visiting Professor in Archaeology at the University of Reading.

His PhD was on the ‘Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry’ and he is a member of the Bayeux Tapestry Scientific Committee that is advising Bayeux Museum on the redisplay and reinterpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry. As part of that group, he pushed for the loan of the Tapestry to the UK.

Michael has written a new book on the Bayeux Tapestry with Dave Musgrove (BBC History Magazine). This is accompanied by a free BBC History Extra podcast.

Archaeology Online

This talk is part of Archaeology Online, a series of monthly evening lectures brought to you by Bristol Museums, Bath and Counties Archaeological Society, Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society and Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society.

How to take part

Due to COVID-19, this lecture will take place over Zoom.

Book your place below. Details of how to join the session will be in your registration email. Please check your spam folder if the email does not arrive.

Bookings close at 11am on Wednesday 28 April.

Visit the Zoom website for guidance on joining webinars. Please allow extra time before the talk begins to make sure everything is working correctly.