Graphic Narratives: The Bayeux Embroidery as Visual History

Students experience the Bayeux Embroidery in life-sized digital replication on the walls of the Visualization Studio and analyze medieval visual narratives by applying Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.


Dr. Julie Mell, Associate Professor of History, and Shaun Bennett, Research Librarian, collaborated over multiple semesters to create digital field trips to explore medieval European history.

The Bayeux tapestry is a 224-foot long wall hanging depicting the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and the events which led to the conflict. Due to the sheer size of the piece, it is nearly impossible to get a sense of the scale from textbooks or traditional digital media. The Visualization Studio is one of the few places where it is possible to view the entire tapestry in life size in a digital environment.

The Annonatate application, developed by Niqui O’Neill, Digital Technologies Development Librarian, allows students to go beyond simply viewing the tapestry. Using Annonatate, students digitally annotate the piece with their own laptop or tablet, zooming in on specific areas, commenting on interesting aspects, and posing discussion questions. After the annotations are complete, they are displayed on the walls of the Studio, immersing students in their own reflections and providing a launching point for class discussions.

How We Did It

This project utilized the immersive display technology in the Libraries and was facilitated and supported by Libraries staff. A video of a high-resolution scan of the Bayeux Tapestry was created using Adobe Premiere. The Tapestry wraps around the Studio to show its full length. Bayeux is also viewed and annotated through the Annonatate application, developed by Niqui O’Neill, Digital Technologies Development Librarian.

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