Bateau Bayeux figure head

The figurehead on the front of the ship in the Bayeux Tapestry section I’m working on doesn’t look as if he would ward off threatening evil spirits; he looks proud and brave. (and as if he could charm the mermaids!)


He has hair that curls and a crown on his head and a fine beard. Each one of these details is small – very small – so filling the areas using Bayeux stitch takes a steady hand and a magnifying light. The beard was the first part I stitched and I opted to put the laid stitches in the vertical direction on each of the two sections of the beard when choosing my stitch direction. This meant that the part at the front of the beard stops abruptly where it meets the back section but once it was all stitched I couldn’t see any split.


I examined the photo in David Wilson’s book but couldn’t see well enough the direction of the stitches in each little area so I decided to stitch the way I thought was logical and not worry about reproducing the original exactly.  The figurehead is outlined in the rusty red. The crown is stitched in the blue and it seemed best to make the laid stitches go vertically since the area is long and narrow.


The little eye, which covers an area only 6 threads x 6 threads, I worked in outline stitch, simply filling in the space under the top of the eye and the bottom of the eye.  The curly hair, below, I also worked with the laid stitches running vertically. It was successful in the longest area to the left but when I got to the little curls, it probably wouldn’t have mattered which way I stitched since everything was so crowded! However, based on the principal that the stitches should run in the same direction throughout the area, i continued with vertical laid stitches and horizontal holding stitches.


The face was easier as I could see in the photo that the laid stitches ran “left to right” across the face. The one place that was unclear were the little narrow bits that seem to be hair, not skin on the face. Again, the long narrow part I did with vertical laid stitches and the shorter, fatter area matches the stitch direction of the face.


Now that the figurehead is finished, I can see that my choices were fine and really, because it’s so small overall, it probably wasn’t that critical. The entire figurehead on the embroidery is only 3 cm x 3 cm after all!

So what do you think? Is he going to keep away the evil spirits or simply charm the mermaids?


7 thoughts on “Bateau Bayeux figure head

  1. I think he looks very protective, neither evil nor charming. just like he has a job to do, and he is doing it well. 🙂

  2. He looks wonderful! As as for the diligence you have taken with stitch direction, I think it gives your work a very crisp clean look. It is all those little things that makes a piece a great – so anxious to see it finished and mounted.

  3. I can’t speak for the mermaids, but he certainly charmed me! He is absolutely gorgeous, well done you. I can’t wait to see this finished.

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