At my Guild meeting we had a fascinating talk about the Stamford Bridge Tapestries. Most people have heard about 1066 and the Battle of Hastings, all gloriously illustrated on the Bayeux Tapestries. 1066 was quite a tumultuous year here in Britain with three English kings and two major battles. I remember reading the Simon Schama book on the history of Britain, I was on the train going to work when I was reading about 1066, it was so exciting I didn’t want the train to get to Leeds!!
The Battle of Stamford Bridge here in Yorkshire happened just three weeks before Hastings, without it the outcome in Hastings would probably have been very different. The troops had to march from London up to Yorkshire (over 200 miles) there was then a very bloody battle with the Vikings which resulted in the Norwegians leaving in less than 30 boats, having arrived in over 300! The English troops rested in York for a couple of days before they heard France had invaded in the South, so the battle weary troops had to march back down to the south coast to fight another battle, and the rest is history, as they say!
As the battle of Stamford Bridge was really just as important as Hastings, someone in the village had the idea of making a tapestry to depict the story, along the lines of the Bayeux Tapestry. A team got together, they started about five years ago and have almost completed the twelve panels. They are amazing to see, each about 120cm across with lots of detail in the pictures. The team of embroiderers tended to specialise in certain bits, one lady was good at dogs, another horses etc, they tried to ensure characters were recognisable from one panel to the next by the colour of their clothing.
They used Bayeux stitch mainly which gives good coverage whilst being very economical with the thread. It was also interesting to hear how they transferred the outlines for the embroidery. They didn’t want to risk using supposedly disappearing pens on the front, so they traced a reversed outline onto calico which was the backing for the embroidery, they could then stitch a fine running stitch through both layers along all the lines, giving a clear outline on the front. Ingenious I thought!!
It is hoped the tapestry will be on permanent display in Stamford within the next few months, it will be worth a visit if you’re in the area. Apologies for the quality of my photos, they were taken on my mobile, there’s lots more photos on Skipton Embroiderer’s Guild website if you follow the link.