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School of Arts, Languages and Cultures

The Bayeux Tapestry

Insights into Anglo-Saxon dress and textile.

Professor Gale Owen-Crocker's close scrutiny of the Bayeux Tapestry provides unique visual evidence about the story it tells and the techniques used in it. This is a one part of her ground breaking research into medieval dress and textiles which today informs curators of historical sites, re-enactment societies, medieval textile specialists and authors.

The Bayeux Tapestry provides a window into medieval culture. This textile is the largest surviving medieval artefact. Its depictions have long informed historical re-enactments and reconstructions, but they may not always be authentic.

The Bayeux Tapestry has long been used as a historical source and admired as an artwork. Professor Gale Owen-Crocker appreciates it as a textile and examines the subtle effects of its embroidery. She also discusses it as a source of knowledge for clothing of the Anglo-Saxons and their Norman invaders of 1066.

The Bayeux Tapestry - closeup

Her insights have informed a numerous reconstructions and re-enactments of the Anglo-Saxon past, most recently:

  • Design of a coffin covering for a community based reenactment of a medieval street pageant
  • Embroidery on a Bayeux-inspired community project in Guernsey
  • The work of author Patricia Bracewell who used the research to develop the plot and language in her historical novel Shadow on the Crown
  • Interpreting the design of a medieval seal matrix for members of the Norwegian Academy of The Strathmartine Centre
  • Advised on BBC2 series about the life of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke

Professor Gale Owen-Crocker is the UK's leading expert and commentator on Anglo-Saxon dress and brought her expertise to the general public through her BBC Radio 3 programme on the Bayeux Tapestry which had 60,000 listeners. She has appeared as early medieval dress and textile expert on:

  • BBC TV's 'Meet the Ancestors'
  • BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour (1.2 million viewers)

And she co-organized a British Museum conference, for which she was interviewed in the popular BBC History Magazine.

Her ground breaking research into medieval dress and textiles … today informs curators of historical sites, re-enactment societies, medieval textile specialists and authors.

Our research

Professor Gale Owen-Crocker was the among the first to recognise the evidence available for Anglo-Saxon dress. Her work has founded a new field of interdisciplinary research in medieval costume, fashion, armour and textile study.

In 1997 she co-founded (with Robin Netherton) the group ‘Discussion, Interpretation and Study of Textile Arts, Fabrics and Fashions' (DISTAFF), which has since grown into a network of over 500 students, scholars and interested laypeople.

In 2005 she co-founded (with Robing Netherton) the annual publication Medieval Clothing and Textiles, an interdisciplinary journal which brings together the work of academics, reconstructors and dedicated independent researchers.

From 2006-2013 Professor Owen-Crocker collaborated to create a database of all of the words used for cloth and clothing in all the languages spoken in Britain during the medieval period. The online resource has received nearly 9000 hits per month on average.

Lead academics