The Bayeux Tapestry May Be Moved To The UK

January 10, 2018 | Matt


It has been announced that the famous Bayeux Tapestry will be put on display in the UK. The Tapestry has not left France in over 950 years.

Emmanuel Macros, president of France, will likely announce the Tapestry’s loan to the UK during his visit to Britain on the 18th. Brits will not, however, be able to see the tapestry until 2020, most likely. This is also assuming that the Tapestry is cleared to be moved without significant risk of being damaged in the process.

The Bayeux Tapestry depicts William I’s conquest of England. The conquest ended in the Battle of Hastings and Harold’s defeat in 1066. It has been on display in Bayeux, Normandy for many years.

The Tapestry is very large, 230 feet long and 50cm high. Its origins are a matter of scholarly debate. The earliest known reference to it in the historical record is from Bayeux Cathedral, written in 1476. There is, however, scant material upon which to base a judgement as to where, how or why it was made.

It may have been commissioned in the 1070’s by William the Conqueror’s half brother the Bishop Odo of Bayeux, according to the Reading Museum. Others claim that it was probably made by English nuns.

A PhD researcher at the University of Manchester theorizes that the Tapestry was made by one group of people, in one place, at one time, based on the consistency of the Tapestry’s needlework.

Napoleon displayed the Tapestry in Paris, starting in 1804, while planning to invade England. Later, it was put on display in Paris during World War II. It was then returned to Bayeux. Britain has attempted to bring the Tapestry to their shores many times before now, but have been unsuccessful.

If it does end up in the UK, it will likely be displayed at the British Museum.

Dr. Michael Lewis of the British Museum says, “For the wider public, people will be amazed about how long it is, and it definitely has a real impact when you see this work of art.”

Some historians are concerned that the Tapestry is too large and too old to be transported without major risk of damaging it. However, the transfer may also be an opportunity to run tests on the Tapestry’s fabric and dyes, to get more historical insights into its origins.

There may also be a reciprocal trade. Tom Tugenhadt, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, suggests the Rosetta Stone. It would be an apropos choice, as it is thought to have been discovered by a Napoleonic soldier in Egypt.

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