Today I’ve finally gotten around to putting some trim on various pieces of garb. One trim I’ve been waiting to use is the gorgeous Bayeaux Tapestry piece (five yards of it) that I got from Calontir Trim. You can find Calontir here, as well as a closeup of the trim I ordered: Calontir Trim detail.


The trim is about three inches wide and the scene repeats about every nine inches. A far cry from the original Bayeux Tapestry, which is actually an embroidery and not a tapestry at all.

The original measures 230 feet long and is 20 inches tall. It is a depiction of the events leading up to William, the Duke of Normandy, conquering England in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings. My trim shows the Latin for “Duke William, in a big ship, sailing the sea….” It is a cropped version of Scene 38 from the Tapestry:


The full Scene 38 is up top and describes Duke William landing at Pevensey in England.

The Bayeux Tapestry consists of some fifty scenes with Latin tituli, or captions, embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns. It is likely that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William’s half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s. It went missing from historical record for centuries. In 1729 the hanging was rediscovered by scholars when it was being displayed in Bayeux Cathedral, which was built by Odo. The tapestry is now exhibited at the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

Here is a statue erected to William, as the Conqueror of England, in his birthplace of Falaise, Normandy:

Quite the guy!

William the Conqueror was a descendant of Rollo, also known as Robert, first Duke of Normandy.

Rollo was a Viking who harried Paris so badly in 911 that Charles III,  King of West Francia (known as Charles the Simple) gave Rollo all the land between the river Epte and the sea, in exchange for Rollo’s agreement to leave Paris alone and to guard Charles’ lands from other Vikings.  Charles also gave Rollo the right to claim the Duchy of Brittany, which at the time was an independent country.  Rollo agreed, as well, to be baptised and to marry Charles’ daughter Gisela.

According to Wikipedia, Rollo’s backstory includes this:

A Norwegian background for Rollo was first explicitly claimed by Goffredo Malaterra (Geoffrey Malaterra), an 11th-century Benedictine monk and historian, who wrote: “Rollo sailed boldly from Norway with his fleet to the Christian coast.”

Likewise, the 12th-century English historian William of Malmesbury stated that Rollo was “born of noble lineage among the Norwegians.”

The claim that Rollo was the brother of a King of Norway, Harald Finehair was made by an anonymous 12th-century Welsh author, in The Life of Gruffudd ap Cynan.

Rollo was first explicitly identified with Hrólf the Walker (Norse Göngu-Hrólfr; Danish Ganger-Hrólf) by the 13th-century Icelandic sagas, Heimskringla and Orkneyinga Saga. Hrólf the Walker was so named because he “was so big that no horse could carry him.”  The Icelandic sources claim that Hrólfr was born in Møre, western Norway, in the late 9th century and that his parents were the Norwegian jarl Rognvald Eysteinsson (“Rognvald the Wise”) and a noblewoman from Møre named Hildr Hrólfsdóttir. However, these claims were made three centuries after the history commissioned by Rollo’s own grandson.

There may be circumstantial evidence for kinship between Rollo and his historical contemporary, Ketill Flatnose, King of the Isles – a Norse realm centred on the Western Isles of Scotland. If, as Richer suggested, Rollo’s father was also named Ketill and as Dudo suggested, Rollo had a brother named Gurim, such names are onomastic evidence for a family connection: Icelandic sources name Ketill Flatnose’s father as Björn Grímsson, and “Grim” – the implied name of Ketill Flatnose’s paternal grandfather – was likely cognate with Gurim.

In addition, both Irish and Icelandic sources suggest that Rollo, as a young man, visited or lived in Scotland, where he had a daughter named Cadlinar (Kaðlín; Kathleen). Moreover, Ketill Flatnose’s ancestors were said to have come from Møre – Rollo’s ancestral home in the Icelandic sources.

However, Ketill was a common name in Norse societies, as were names like Gurim and Grim. It is also possible that the later sources were attempting to suggest an otherwise undocumented link between the historical figures of Rollo and Ketill Flatnose, by way of little-known, possibly apocryphal figures like Grim, Gurim and the Ketill said to be Rollo’s father.

[Footnotes omitted.]

I would add here that Ketil Flat-Nose was the father of Unn the Deep-Minded, the ancestor of the families involved in The Saga of the People of Laxardal and Njal’s Saga, both of which I’ve been studying, in school and out, and have posted about several times in the past.

Another interesting side-note is that a genealogical chart in the Robert Cook translation of Njal’s Saga shows Ketil Flat-Nose as being a direct descendant of Ragnar Lodbrok (Lothbrok). Ragnar “Shaggy-Breeches”  was a semi-legendary hero although somehow he managed to be the father to such historically-proven sons as Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, and Sigurd Snake-eye. I don’t understand how someone whose sons were admittedly real is himself not considered quite real.

Anyway, the mention of Ketil Flat-Nose in the real Rollo’s possible antecedents is interesting because, as you may know, Rollo and Ragnar are shown as brothers in The History Channel’s series Vikings, now in its fourth season, part two. You can also check out my earlier post about Vikings, both the TV series and some of the many books I’ve read about them, here:  Vikings!

So now that the History Channel’s Rollo has been mentioned, I simply MUST add some of my favorite photos of him. He is played by the eminently toothsome British actor Clive Standen:

And not to slight Ragnar, here are some photos of him, too:

And we absolutely must have a picture of a longship, a dragonship. This one is the Draken Harald Harfagre, the biggest modern-built Viking ship to date. It sailed from Norway last April across the ocean all the way to Canada and the United States. I had tickets to see it when it docked in Lake Erie in July, but was not able to go, sadly:

But I do hope to take a day trip on a Viking boat when I’m in Iceland this spring, if time and money permit. I can dream. 🙂