17 AUGUST 1944, Page 9

I was always told as a boy that when Harold

took his famous oath at Bayeux promising to secure the Throne of England for Duke William he was the victim of a deception, and that the sacred relics upon which he swore had been hidden from his eyes under a covering of cloth. This story, which appears in Wace's " Roman de "Rou," is not confirmed by the Bayeux tapestry. Harold is shown as placing both his right hand and his left hand upon two large chests, presumably containing relics ; on the top of the left hand chest, and fully exposed to view, is a small round object which may well have been the most famous of all Duke William's reliquaries, known as the " Bull's eye." If the tapestry is to all intents and purposes contemporaneous, then the story of Duke William's cunning is merely an ingenious invention on the part of Wace. since Harold is quite clearly affirming his oath not upon one altar only, but upon two. And if, as Sir Eric Maclagan contends, the tapestry may be of English manufacture, then there is no reason to suppose that the events were falsified. All of which goes to justify the claim of the son of Arlette, daughter of the tanner of Falaise. "