Saturday, 22 March 2014

Harold and Historical Heresy

Death of Harold at Hastings - sculpted wall plaque by bod

The facts of History

When I was at school everybody knew that Harold was killed at Hastings by receiving a very sharp arrow to the eye – it was a fact, it was, as was Richard III being a hunchback monster who killed the princes in the tower.

Harold and the arrow

Then, at the tender age of eleven, we got a new history teacher, a rather radical one. He was obsessed (or so we thought) with the idea that things should be questioned, and that maybe Harold hadn’t been killed by an arrow, and that maybe Richard III was a rather nice chap after all.

This was unheard of at our school. It was out-and-out heresy! On no account should pupils be encouraged to question and think for themselves.

I was definitely ready, however, and this impressed upon me the idea that just because a book or ‘expert’ on telly said it was so, didn’t necessarily mean it was. Even if something was clearly ‘true’ now, maybe one day new evidence would challenge and overturn a view, and become the new religion.

Since that day, when, incidentally experts laughed at the idea that birds might be descended from dinosaurs,  I’ve seen many ‘facts’ overturned, and begun to realise that this is a normal process.

This ‘fact’ however, never seems to get through to many of the ‘experts.’ Although I have seen a softening in the presentation of material, there are still many books and presenters that tell us the facts as if they are cast in stone, and will never change. As us mere mortals can only look on in wonder and they build whole scenarios on very scant evidence, without revealing the idea that this is just the latest theory based on what little evidence has emerged thus far.

All of these things went through my head as I made ‘Harold.’ At moments I was back in that dusty classroom, feeling the excitement of being part of the heresy, a fellow conspirator, a challenger of the facts.

I love a good teacher – they always impart precious gifts to us that have nothing whatever to do with the curriculum, gifts that last a lifetime.

Death of Harold - sculpted copper plaque by bod

A few years later I visited the Bayeux Tapestry, and lingered long over that famous scene, trying to bore the truth out of it.

I had to make this piece, to honour Harold and that moment that changed the history of England, Britain and probably the whole world, and also to honour that teacher, who helped me on the way to questioning things and thinking for myself – thank you Sir!
I hope you like ‘Harold,’ he has much woven into him.

Thanks for reading!


Justbod Team

Harold - oak wall plaque with inlaid individually hand sculpted design in pure copper based on a section of the Bayeux tapestry depicting the killing of King Harold ('Harold Rex: Interfectus est' - 'King Harold: he is slain')
~W300 x H220 x D18mm

Hand sculpted in Yorkshire by bod. Originally available from our ‘Warriors’Collection.


Artwork, carvings and sculptures
~ inspired by history and nature ~

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Sources and further information:

Bayeux Tapestry:
Harold Godwinson:                                                         

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