Thursday, 12 January 2017

Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry

First Story Panel from the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry


















The Battle of Stamford Bridge was one of the three battles that took place in 1066 that were key in determining Britain's history as we know it.  The others were the Battle of Fulford and the more famous Battle of Hastings.  The Battle of Fulford is commemorated in a tapestry, finished in 2012 and you can read about that here.  The Battle of Hastings is immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry and now the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry is underway.  It is hoped that the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry will become a national heirloom for Britain in the same way that the Bayeux tapestry is for France.  Heather Cawte came along to the City of York Embroiderers' Guild to tell us all about it.

Second Story Panel from the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry

Quick history lesson - the Battle of Fulford was followed by the Battle of Stamford Bridge & then the Battle of Hastings which resulted in the end of Anglo-Saxon rule in England and William the Conqueror becoming the first Norman King of England.  Harald Hardrada, Viking King of Norway was the victor in the Battle of Fulford. He was later defeated and killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge by Harold Godwinson, who was the Saxon King of England at the time.  It was a great battle.  The Vikings who came from Norway in 300 ships returned in only 24.  After a long march south, Harold Godwinson was defeated at the Battle of Hastings by William the Conqueror, from France.  Had Harold not had to march north for the battle at Stamford Bridge and then south shortly after he may have been victorious at the Battle of Hastings and British history would be very different.
Unfinished panel from the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry

Like the Bayeux & Fulford Tapestries, the Stamford Bridge Tapestry is in fact an embroidery, stitched in wool on linen.  The design for each panel has been done by Chris Rock, Chairman of the Battle of Stamford Bridge Heritage Society.  Using a lightbox and an ordinary pen, the design is transferred onto calico.  The linen and calico backing are then stretched onto a wooden frame and the outline of the design is stitched through to the linen using ordinary sewing thread.  This allows the design to be transferred to the linen without marking the front of the linen.

Reverse side of the above panel

All figures are then outlined in wool in one colour in stem stitch or outline stitch and filled in with Bayeux stitch in a different colour. Only 9 colours of wool are used as well as red (for banners), grey (for chain mail) and purple (for the king).  The wool used is Appletons Crewel Wool and the colours are matched to those used in the Bayeux tapestry.

Panel from the Battle of Stamford Bridge Tapestry

There will be 15 panels in the finished tapestry and Heather thought it might take a couple more years to finish.  Work began in 2015 and the volunteer stitchers are being led by Shirley Smith, textile artist, Minster Broderer & City of York Embroiderers' Guild Co-chair.

Items for sale

Fundraising is also part of the project.  The linen alone, is £100 per metre.  You can purchase items to support the project here.

The tapestry is a tremendous undertaking and it was very interesting to hear all about the background & history and to see the panels at different stages of completion.  Thanks to Heather and the other volunteer stitchers who came along to let us see their work!



No comments:

Post a comment