A 64-metre long steel mosaic replica of the Bayeux Tapestry from New Zealand on display in Hastings opened to the public on Saturday (August 13).
The Medieval Mosaic is made of three million pieces of spring steel and holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s largest steel mosiac.
The 450kg masterpiece, which took Michael Linton 33 years to complete, will be on display in the Crypt Gallery in St Mary in the Castle for 10 weeks as part of the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
“It had to happen this year I can’t wait another 50 years so this was the year it had to happen,” Michael said
“It’s great that we finally got it here in the best place we could have it – the crypt of Hastings Castle.”
The mosaic tells the story of William the Conquerer’s victory in the Battle of Hastings, including the infamous image of King Harold with an arrow through his eye.
As well as the story told on the original Bayeaux Tapestry, Michael’s creation includes an eight-metre long ‘finale’ section that tells the story from the battle to William’s coronation on Christmas Day, 1066.
This section took another five years to research and create with the help of Michael’s daughter Rachael.
Two others sections were also made by the father-daughter team to portray the battles of Fulford Gate and Stamford Bridge, which took another eight years to make and added an extra 22 metres to the finished article.
Rachael tirelessly studied the style of the original tapestry to design the extra sections and said bringing it to Hastings has all come together perfectly.
“It’s a dream come true for dad because he’s always wanted it to come here so it’s been a 30-year dream that they wanted to have happen,” she said.
The 33-year masterpiece has been on display in Geraldine since September, 2001, but has been shipped 18,700km to Hastings for the commemorations.
Hastings and Rye MP Amber Rudd described it as ‘spectacular’ and hoped it would help to subtly teach youngsters about the medieval period.
“I think it’s an extraordinary mix of the modern and the ancient in a way that’s really accessible for the rest of us who just want to enjoy it,” she said.
“It reinforces what an important year this is for Hastings, and while we do that we can subtly let young people know a little bit about the history of that period, sneak in a bit of learning I think.
“But it’s part of a whole build up of the momentum towards the 950th anniversary of such an important date, not just in local history, but in national history.”
Hastings Borough Council helped to bring the mosaic to the town and marketing manager Kevin Boorman said it is ‘so right’ for Hastings.
“It’s fantastic for Hastings – we know this is a big anniversary for us but stories like this bring people to the town as people are going to be interested to hear about this Medieval Mosaic,” he said.
“I’m pleased we can now say the 950th anniversary celebrations are here now and this is the start of something that’s going to be big for the town.”
Council leader Peter Chowney said the mosaic is ‘quite extraordinary, and well worth a visit’.
“The amount of work that has gone into it is quite incredible, and it fits into the crypt of St Mary in the Castle so well :- it looks like it was designed for it, yet was made half a world away,” he said.
“I am delighted that Michael, Gillian and Rachael Linton have chosen Hastings for the European – indeed northern hemisphere – launch for this work, and am sure that it will attract many, many visitors over the coming months.
“It provides yet another reason for visitors to come here, and is the Guinness World Record holder for the world’s largest steel mosaic – famously Hastings indeed.”
The mosaic is open to the public seven days a week from 10am until 5pm until Monday, October 31, with admission by donation.
To find out more about the Medieval Mosiac, visit www.1066.co.nz.
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