The Bayeux tapestry is the most enlightening, enigmatic, frustrating, exhilarating, untruthful and accurate historical source that I have ever worked with. The importance of the tapestry is clear when you consider the number of historians that cite its images as evidence to prove/disprove their own pet theory. However, I say viewer beware and here's one example why.
Take this image:
It is generally accepted that as the battle of Hastings progressed the Norman knights came up against less well armed English troops. The evidence is found in the tapestry as shown above.
In his book, 1066, the Hidden History of the Bayeux tapestry, Andrew Bridgeford has this to say about the incident:
'On the top of an isolated hillock, a group of lesser Englishmen, with shields and spears, but without chain mail protection, continue a manful defense.'
Well, OK. Seems reasonable, though not the most insightful piece of research.
Now, here's the problem of the Bayeux tapestry. If Bridgeford's interpretation of the tapestry is correct, and it seems so, then how do the explain the following scenes:
Taken in order these pictures show the initial attack by Norman cavalry on Saxon forces. The lack of infantry aside, I have one problem - no hill. The Saxon's are clearly defending on the same level as the attacking Normans.
So does this mean the Saxon's defended on the flat or that the tapestry is an interpretation, not an accurate picture of events. Either way it throws into question almost any conclusion drawn solely from the tapestry.