Making use of 2.6 billion pixels, the most detailed digital version of the Bayeux Tapestry has been released online. It offers unprecedented views of the 11th-century embroidery.
The Bayeux Museum made available the online version on its website. They worked with teams from the University of Caen Normandie to digitize high-resolution images of the tapestry, which were taken in 2017. A simple interface was created to access the digital version, which allows users to zoom in and explore it in great detail with access to Latin translations in French and English.
This online viewer, which is 8 GB in size, should make it easier for historians and researchers to work on the Bayeux Tapestry. They can directly document and annotate the work, via this reference digital representation.
Along with the new online version, the Bayeux Museum has also released a report revealing the current condition of the Tapestry, which will help determine how the famous artefact should be restored and exhibited in the future. A team of eight restorers, all specialists in antique textiles, carried out the detailed inspection in January 2020, a period when the museum was closed to visitors. The whole 68.38-metre length of the Tapestry was examined closely. Each day, each restorer studied approximately 1 metre in length of the embroidery and its linen cloth background in order to analyse every element of deterioration.
Among their findings were that the tapestry has 24,204 stains, 16,445 wrinkles, 9,646 gaps in the cloth or the embroidery, 30 non-stabilized tears, and significant weakening in the first few metres of the work. Some of this damage took place long ago, such as nail holes from successive hangings or wax stains caused by candles used to light Bayeux Cathedral where it was originally displayed.
The report will be used by conservation experts to make necessary repairs to the tapestry and prepare it for a new exhibition space when the museum is rebuilt in the mid-2020s.