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The Bayeux Tapestry

A BBC Radio 4 Full-Cast Dramatisation
Written by: Simon Armitage, Jeff Young
Length: 2 hrs and 6 mins
Categories: History, Europe

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Publisher's Summary

A combination of verse from Simon Armitage and prose from Jeff Young lends a voice to the chain of events depicted on the famous Bayeux Tapestry. This production chronicles the history surrounding the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the ascension of Duke William of Normandy to the English throne. 

Harold, Duke of Wessex, takes the English throne, despite Edward the Confessor's wish that William Duke of Normandy should be his heir. Seeking retribution, William sails to England and heads his troops towards Hastings, where the battle eventually concludes with Harold's death by an arrow shot to the eye. Poetry and prose are interspersed with war correspondent-style reports on the action. As the royal dukes ponder their lot, assorted commoners of the day discuss fear, heroism and grief.

©2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd (P)2019 BBC Worldwide Ltd

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 25-11-19

Unconventional format but informative & memorable

1066 - every schoolchild knows the basics, but history is given a contemporary spin here in this short but detailed biography of the persons and circumstances leading up to the Battle of Hastings and the change in fate of Britain.

Using the Bayeux Tapestry as its synopsis, poet Simon Armitage brings us verses about the kings, lords and commoners involved in the documented battle. The personal perspective of the characters is quite fresh-feeling as we learn of their emotions and lives, knowing the outcome of the story.

The most startling aspect of the audio, however, comes when the familiar voice of Kirsty Wark brings us news updates from the period, from the scenes of battles, giving us a journalistic perspective that these events have never seen before. The idea of this voice and style describing the events in this way was quite gripping, brought the action of the past into the present.

Some famous voices are in the cast, the poetry was at times very beautiful and stark. It all made the production very professional, smooth and curious.

Anybody with an interest in medieval history might want to consider listening to this novel approach to reporting and recording history for a contemporary audience.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.