Moving ‘fragile’ Bayeux Tapestry to UK will be headache for curators – expert

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Scholar of early medieval embroidery Dr Alexandra Makin said moving the 70 metre-long Bayeux Tapestry will be a real challenge for curators.

“You can move it if it’s got specially constructed containers, and curators on both sides of the Channel will be looking to see if it’s viable to do that,” she said.

“Although it’s massive, it’s in a fragile state. It’s natural fibres – wool and linen – and obviously it was made in the early 11th century. So the curators will be investigating all the options to see if it’s possible.”

A section of The Bayeux Tapestry (Stephane Maurice/Bayeux Museum/PA)
A section of the Bayeux Tapestry (Stephane Maurice/Bayeux Museum/PA)

Dr Makin said: “You can actually see the 19th century restoration work because it’s not nearly as neat as the original work.

“You can see the embroiderers were not looking at it as a design – they were looking at it as an area that had to be completed, so the threads are carried over from one motif to the next.”

Dr Makin thinks the famous arrow-in-the-eye scene could have been a 19th-century invention because there are tiny needle holes stretching from beyond the arrow design.

“The original thread might have continued on to perhaps create a lance or something,” she said.

Historians believe that the tapestry was the work of professional female embroiderers, probably of Anglo-Saxon origin, in the Canterbury area.

“Their work was very well thought of and very well known. They were commissioned by Norman aristocrats to make things for them,” Dr Makin said.

“That’s not to say that they weren’t embroidering on the continent, but in the case of the Bayeux Tapestry, that was probably made by Anglo-Saxon workers who would have been female.”

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