We’ve all been there. Maybe it was on the Internet or maybe you were lucky enough to be there in person. I’m talking about viewing the Bayeux Tapestry, probably the most recognisable and iconic piece of medieval art. But as serious as the Tapestry is, every now and then, she throws us a massive curveball. This is what I’m talking about:

And here’s another:


Ask anyone you know to name a famous tapestry and I’ll bet there’s one that pops up over and over: the Bayeux Tapestry. No matter how much or how little you know about Medieval England, I guarantee that you could identify any image from the Bayeux Tapestry almost without thinking, as though it’s embedded in our DNA. But despite being instantly recognisable, the Bayeux Tapestry remains one of the most misunderstood works of historical art. Given that it’s over 900 years old, it’s time we set the record straight on this medieval beauty, once and for all.

  1. Bayeux Tapestry Isn’t…

Boris Johnson at Daily Briefing, accompanied by one of his many slogans.

“Political language … is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell.

Nobody loves a slogan quite like the Tories, and the Coronavirus pandemic had added many to the political vernacular. Some slogans are deliberately introduced: for instance, we all remember, “Stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.” But some slogans come into existence in a more accidental, haphazard fashion. “The Science” is one such slogan. …


Yesterday, David Starkey was again outed as a racist. In an online interview, he claimed that:

Slavery was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?

We all remember the riots of 2011, sparked by the murder of a Black British man called Mark Duggan in Tottenham, London. Starkey waded in on that one, too. Speaking of the men who participated in the riots, he said:

What has happened is that the substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black. The whites have become black. …


So you’ve had a great idea for a history book. You’ve done some preliminary research and are certain that you’ve got something worthwhile to bring to the historical table. Fantastic!

In 2014, I was in this exact situation. I had my idea, I had written my proposal and, within a few weeks, had secured a book deal with a national publisher. I couldn’t have been happier! But whether you choose to go down the traditional publishing route or opt for self-publication, the next step — the actual writing — can be a daunting and mammoth task.

Back in 2014, I…


Arsenic…strychnine…antimony…cyanide.…opium… the list of poisons available to buy in the 19th century often comes as a shock to modern audiences. Rather worringly, any one of these dangerous substances could be purchased for a few pennies with relative ease, even by children. Part of the reason for this ready availability was the widespread use of poisons in a number of industries: arsenic, for example, was used to provide the green colour in wallpapers that were so fashionable in the Victorian home. Strychnine was used to kill troublesome rodents while laudanum was a commonly-prescribed painkiller. …


When Christiana Edmunds stood trial for her infamous poisoning spree in January 1872, her physical appearance was heavily scrutinised by the press. This was not uncommon among murderesses, but it was, in part, a response to the rising popularity of a pseudo-science called Physiognomy.

As a rough definition, Physiognomy is the belief that studying a person’s facial features or expressions is indicative of his or her personality or behaviour.

Though it’s centuries-old, the Victorians had a particular love for Physiognomy and believed that it had a myriad of uses, including the ability to depict the so-called differences between racial groups…


This post was originally written for the FWSA blog in April 2020.

More young people are studying GCSE history than ever before. As the guardians of our past, history teachers have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that these young people have access to a wide range of historical narratives. Women’s history, in particular, needs to be brought to the forefront. Recent statistics show that history is the most popular of all non-compulsory subjects at GCSE level and is the fifth most popular subject overall. Interestingly, it is girls who are driving this popularity, and a significant number of them will…


Even Elizabeth has had enough …

Have you ever noticed that women’s history is dominated by the same kinds of women? It’s always the top 100 important women in history or the “remarkable” story of this historical heroine. If she wasn’t “brave,” or “remarkable,” or “influential,” she rarely (if ever) gets a mention. This is a major bugbear of mine. Why does a woman have to conform to one of these labels to have a voice? Is her story not worth mentioning if she wasn’t hugely influential, in some way or another? …


In light of the recent tragic events in the US, I see that many history teachers are (rightly) keen to re-address the balance of diversity in their school curriculum.

In this post, I invite anyone who wants to evaluate their current handling of historical diversity to try out this exercise. It’s been around for decades and is surprisingly simple, but I guarantee that you will be surprised by the results. While it is aimed at teachers who use textbooks, existing schemes of work can fully be scrutinised using the same methodology.

I used this exercise back in January when I…

Kaye Jones

I tell the extraordinary stories of ordinary people and fight for equality in history. Join the fight here: www.theherstorian.co.uk

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