Questioning the Archaeological Authority of the Bayeux Tapestry
Author: Lewis, Michael J.
Source: Cultural and Social History, 1 December 2010, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 467-484(18)
Abstract:The Bayeux Tapestry is the earliest known visual record of the events leading to the Norman Conquest of England. In view of this fact, the poor survival of eleventh-century material culture, and the dearth of contemporary imagery depicting secular life on the eve of the Conquest, it is no surprise that historians and archaeologists have quarried it as a source for contemporary life (and death) in the eleventh century. However, have scholars been sufficiently critical of its authority in this respect? Is it reasonable to expect that the medieval artist would 'accurately' depict the world around him, given that the medieval artistic tradition was one where it was customary for artists to repeat pictorial formulae and reuse them in new contexts? With this in mind, the article considers the Tapestry as an example where scholars have utilized its imagery as a factual record of the 'real world' without due caution.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure, British Museum, London, WC1B 3DG, UK;, Email: email@example.com