A 90-metre hand-embroidered tapestry telling the story of Game Of Thrones has been transported to the home of one of the most famous tapestries in the world.
The depiction of the epic tale drew inspiration from the 11th century Bayeux Tapestry, and has now opened as a neighbouring visitor attraction in the historic French town.
Journalists from across the world were in attendance on Friday as the Mayor of Bayeux, Patrick Gomont, opened the attraction to the public at the Hotel du Doyen.
Mr Gomont welcomed the arrival of the Game Of Thrones tapestry in Bayeux, saying it was evidence of the continuing “influence and strength of the reputation of the Bayeux Tapestry”.
The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 led by William the Conqueror, who defeated then King Harold Godwinson – famously depicted with an arrow piercing his eye.
Created almost a thousand years later in 2017, the Game Of Thrones tapestry is no less bloody, with the violent scenes the HBO series is famous for intricately recreated.
It was completed earlier this year following the final episode of season eight when a team of 30 volunteer stitchers completed the final section of the tapestry, bringing it to 87 metres in length.
Mark Henry, central marketing director for Tourism Ireland, told PA news agency that the initiative came after an approach by the Bayeux Tapestry Museum to the Ulster Museum in Belfast where over 200,000 people have visited the Game Of Thrones tapestry.
“Tourism Ireland had used the tapestry as the core of its promotion around the world for season 7. Bayeux became aware that it had been a source of inspiration and asked whether we would bring the tapestry over,” he said.
“The tapestry was created by Tourism Ireland for two reasons; it created word of mouth publicity and social media chat around the world among Game Of Thrones fans, and after each episode we added on another section, and secondly to bring people to Belfast to see it for themselves.”
Mr Gomont said: “This inter-museum loan demonstrates the influence of, and strengthens the reputation of, the Bayeux Tapestry, a unique work of art that continues to inspire all over the world.
“Its relevance in the modern world is undeniable, evident in the countless references made to it in popular culture, of which the Game Of Thrones Tapestry is just one example.”
After a decade of filming and production at locations across Northern Ireland, Game Of Thrones came to a close last May.
Mr Henry said it has become the third global icon for Northern Ireland along with the Giant’s Causeway and Titanic that has helped double visitor numbers over the last decade.
“Research by Tourism NI revealed that one in six out of state visitors said Game Of Thrones was an influence, in 2018 that amounted to 350,000 people who contributed an estimated £50 million in spending to the local economy,” he said.
The tapestry is set to be on display in Bayeux for three months.
Mr Henry said there have been further loan requests from both Great Britain and the United States for 2020.
Ultimately, he said, Tourism Ireland plans to gift the tapestry to the Ulster Museum in Belfast both as a thank you for their expertise and help in its maintenance and transportation, but also as an historical record of the impact the HBO series had to tourism in Northern Ireland.
Next year will see the opening of the first of the Game Of Thrones legacy projects.
That project, based at Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge, Co Down, will see some of the most famous sets from the series open to the public.
These may include the ships of the Iron Islands, and parts of pivotal scenes including the door which the character Hodor held, the Red Wedding, Queen Cersei’s chamber and the bed where Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen consummated their relationship.
Mr Henry said Tourism Ireland’s intention is to firmly establish Northern Ireland as Game Of Thrones territory to maximise “screen tourism”.
“Screen tourism is increasingly an influence for destinations, with set jetters travelling around the world to visit where their favourite television programme or film was made,” he said.
“Who doesn’t think of New Zealand and its association with Lord Of The Rings. It has now been 16 years since the last Lord Of The Rings movie.
“Game Of Thrones clearly offers Northern Ireland a similar opportunity and will for decades to come.”