What is the Bayeux
The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of events
leading up to the invasion and conquest of England in 1066.
was commissioned for display in the Cathedral of Bayeux, perhaps by
William the Conqueror, but more likely by his half brother, Odo, Bishop
It is a wide banner of embroidered linen, 70 metres
long and 50 centimetres wide, involving only 2 stitches, the Bayeux
or couching and the stem stitch. A limited range of eight
produces a surprisingly vibrant effect.
Since the ending is so badly damaged, it is
very likely that several of the scenes have been lost. Ray
offers his interpretation of what these missing scenes might have
contained, but has stitched them in muted shades of brown so that they
are not confused with the original.
Thousands of visitors, including many school
children flock to Bayeux every year to view this medieval masterpiece.
In executing his reproduction, Dr. Dugan hopes to reach
who might otherwise be unable to enjoy this exceptional insight into
one of the greatest events in European history.
Story in Detail...and in the Author's Own Words
It tells the story of the events leading up to the
battle of Hastings (1066) between England's King Harold and Normandy's
Duke William. The two had been friends and military allies
Edward the Confessor died and the English crown was offered to Harold,
son of a powerful English earl. William felt he had more
it since Edward had looked on him with favour ever since the English
king had spent years exiled in France, England having been overun by
After Harold was crowned, William
sailed for England with his men armed with lances and arrows and
set up fortifications at Hastings. Harold and his foot
bearing broadaxes and shields, headed there after defeating the Danes
As the battle raged, it looked as if the
Anglo-Saxons would repulse the invaders, but then the tide turned, and
along the lower border of the tapestry we see bodies beheaded or armour
"It gets rather bloody here, and after a while, I
got tired of stitching horse after horse in the charges". remembers
Dugan. Pointing to the illustration of the death of King
he says: "Every English school child learns that Harold died on the
battlefield with an arrow in his eye, but the only source for that
story is the Bayeux Tapestry."
Another challenge was getting the materials.
French wool was needed by the boxful, not just a few skeins
time. So friends in France were sent hunting for the right
colours. And it was a friend who delayed things for a while
when he spilt a glass of red wine on a panel he was
admiring. "That's when I learned it was washable." laughs the
About half-way along the 200 feet there is a
double-edged rectangle marked with two crosses showing a date - April
9, 1993. That is the date of the Dugans' tragedy.
Their two sons
drowned in the Castor River, south of Ottawa. The older son,
Andrew, had come with his wife and two children to visit his younger
brother Mark, who was to be married the following July. Andy
going to be best man and sing at his brother's wedding so there were
preparations to be made. Later that Good Friday the two
went out in Mark's jeep even though it was a terrible night with heavy
flooding from the ice that had just broken up. When the jeep
stuck, they started to walk home. It's assumed that one of
boys lost his footing because they were wading in the freezing water in
a field, not realizing that the river was just ahead of them.
When one slipped into the river, the other probably jumped in
rescue his brother. One body was recovered on Easter Monday,
other two days later.
"You can never be prepared to face something like
that and you never get over it. But the tapestry helped me
through a very difficult period. I didn't consciously think
as therapy. It just happened. Stitching became
obsession and at that point I just had to finish. It is
to the memory of my two sons."
Since its completion it has been displayed at
meetings of Bereaved Families of Ontario as well as in museums and
galleries across Ontario and Quebec including Kitchener, Almonte,
Montreal, Woodstock, London, The Haliburton School of the Arts, Bruce
County, Wellington County, Lambton County, the Chateau Frontenac in
Quebec City, the Canadian Textile Museum in Toronto, at Meredith
College in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the University of Wisconsin in
Madison and St. Bonaventure University in Olean, New York.