Background from Wikipedia: Bayeux Tapestry is one of a kind, cr. 70 metres long, narrative embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It is probable that it was created in the 1070s. The authorship of the tapestry is disputed; there are reasons to believe it to be either English or French. It is certain however that it represents a unique blend of styles and influences.

According to F. Sidney Walls, "Anglo-Saxon embroideries, which were famous at the time of the Conquest, are a Scandinavian art. … It was a well-established custom among the Teutonic tribes, after their migration from East Asia, to commemorate their exploits by elaborate paintings, sculpture, and embroideries."

I am looking for pre-Bayeux objects with comparable narratives (battles, processions, ...), both art-history and archaeology departments, objects that could have influenced the Bayeux tapestry (preferred) or had similar influences as the Bayeux tapestry.

I cannot find any objects mentioned by F. Sidney Walls, the closes analogy I can think of is Trajan's Column, which was created in 113, almost 1000 years earlier, and Byzantian manuscripts. What are the existing Scandinavian/Teutonic that are similar, those that are mentioned in F. Sidney Walls's paper? I am after the depictions of horsemen, possibly in other art forms, not after general embroideries.

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  • This is unclear to me. Please clarify which apply: embroidery, pre-Bayeux, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Viking, Normannic,wall decoration or just pictorial, battle scenes, nature? Styles, art-history, archaeology. textile archaeology find? Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:44
  • @LаngLаngС apologies for being unclear. Ideally, pre-Bayeux objects with comparable narratives (battles, processions, ...), art-history and archaeology, objects that could have influenced the Bayeux tapestry (preferred) or had similar influences as the Bayeux tapestry.
    – Yulia V
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 12:29
  • 1
    Please edit clarifying info into post. For 'narratives' it'll take me a while. But style /technique development, and objects like this or that? Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 12:39
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    It is for yu51a5.com/3000-years-of-horsemen-on-rearing-horses/…. I am "sort of" trying to trace the history of how one particular "cliche" evolves since10th century BC, trying to create a story that feels continuous. Every part is very superficial, the point is to try and see the trends/logic behind the development of narratives. If you have time to take a look and give any feedback on this or other bits of my work, I would appreciate it. I must warn - it is a bit long, about 450 A4 pages, cr. 1000 images
    – Yulia V
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


The issue with finding other similar works is that barely any of it survived to this day except as references in documents:

Little physical evidence survives to reconstruct the early development of English embroidery before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Stitches reinforcing the seams of a garment in the Sutton Hoo ship burial may have been intended as decoration, and so be classed as embroidery, and fragments of a scrolling border worked in stem stitch were recovered from a grave in Kempston, Bedfordshire. Some embroidered pieces of about 850 preserved in Maaseik, Belgium, are generally assumed to be Anglo-Saxon work based on their similarity to contemporary manuscript illustrations and sculptures of animals and interlace.

The documentary evidence is rather richer than the physical remains. Part of the reason for both these facts is the taste among the late Anglo-Saxon elite for embroidering using lavish amounts of precious metal thread, especially gold, which both gave items a magnificence and expense worth recording, and meant that they were well worth burning to recover the bullion. Three old vestments, almost certainly Anglo-Saxon, recycled in this way at Canterbury Cathedral in the 1370s, produced over £250 of gold – a huge amount.

The entry on the Bayeux Tapestry has this additional bit:

Tapestry fragments have been found in Scandinavia dating from the ninth century and it is thought that Norman and Anglo-Saxon embroidery developed from this sort of work. Examples are to be found in the grave goods of the Oseberg ship and the Överhogdal tapestries.

A monastic text from Ely, the Liber Eliensis, mentions a woven narrative wall-hanging commemorating the deeds of Byrhtnoth, killed in 991. Wall-hangings were common by the tenth century with English and Norman texts particularly commending the skill of Anglo-Saxon seamstresses. Mural paintings imitating draperies still exist in France and Italy and there are twelfth-century mentions of other wall-hangings in Normandy and France. A poem by Baldric of Dol might even describe the Bayeux Tapestry itself. The Bayeux Tapestry was therefore not unique at the time it was created: rather it is remarkable for being the sole surviving example of medieval narrative needlework.

Here's a tapestry fragment from the Oseberg ship find (h/t LangLangC):

Oseberg tapestry fragments


There is a costume from the viking chamber grave from Mammen with a dendrochronology date of 970/971.

  • 1
    Thanks, but the embroidery is ornamental, not narrative.
    – Yulia V
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:17
  • Awww. Sorry for overreading ...
    – user41260
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:18
  • 1
    My fault, I should have been clearer.
    – Yulia V
    Commented Dec 21, 2019 at 11:19

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