A Tapestry for Europe

The Tapestry for Europe, made by its people, will show vivid images of what Europe is, when it was, and where it is now. Working to a sweeping narrative written by Alistair Moffat, the tapestry will be a series of these embroidered panels designed by Andrew Crummy, and tells the immense history of our continent.

1. The Introduction


The story of Europe stitched together by thousands of fingers.

2. The Ice Age Refuges

Chauvet paintings

The painted caves at Lascaux, Chauvet and elsewhere tell a graphic story of the culture of Europe during the last ice age as our ancestors sheltered from the extreme weather. On the walls of their caves they left a graphic record of their remarkable lives. The ice began to melt about 13,000 years ago.

3. Doggerland and the Storegga Slide


In what is now the North Sea there existed a vast subcontinent, perhaps the cradle of prehistoric European culture. Migration flowed back and forth across what prehistorians have called Doggerland after the remnant of its mountains, the Dogger Bank. Its peoples flourished until c5800BC when a massive undersea earthquake in the Storegga Trench off the coast of Norway swept much of the landmass away.

4. Otzi


Found perfectly preserved in a melting Alpine glacier, this man had been attacked and killed. His clothes, weapons, tools and DNA were also preserved and it turned out he was not a descendant of the Beaker People but a hunter, gatherer, perhaps a shepherd.

5. The Beaker People

The Beaker People

These were immigrants to Western Europe who brought a different culture to replace the people who built the great monuments like Stonehenge. The Beaker culture is best known by its grave goods; archery kit, gold objects and fine pottery.

6. Knossos


In 1628BC the eruption of Thera in the Eastern Mediterranean c1628-1540 created a tsunami that badly damaged the palace on Crete that was the seat of the earliest recorded monarchy in Europe. But enough remained and was reconstructed to offer a pungent sense of this rich, exotic culture.

7. The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games

The olympic Games began in Greece in 771BC and were revived in 1896 by Baron de Coubertin. They influenced both ancient and modern ideas of sport as well as replacing laurel wreaths as prizes with gold, silver and bronze medals in the early 20th century.

8. Marathon and Thermopylae

Marathon and Thermopylae

These were the pivotal battles between the Greek city states and the mighty Persian Empire in the 4th century BC that held eastern culture at bay and allowed distinctly European ideas to develop.

9. Syracuse 213BC

Syracuse 213BC

The siege of the city formed part of the wars fought by Rome against Hannibal and Carthage, another defining moment for the character of European culture. They also involved the scientist, Archimedes, one of the earliest theorists and engineers.

10. Caesar in Gaul

Caesar in Gaul

At Alesia in 52BC, Julius Caesar led the world’s first professional army in a huge seigeworks to trap and capture the leader of the Celtic tribes of what became France, Vercingetorix.

11. Peter in Rome

Peter in Rome

The apostle helped establish Christian communities in the west c58AD to 60AD and it is likely that he was martyred, crucified upside down so as not to imitate Christ. He is held to have been the first Bishop of Rome.

12. Constantinople 330AD

Constantinople 330AD

When the Emperor Constantine shifted the centre of the Roman Empire eastwards, he also established Christianity as the state religion. The great Church of Holy Wisdom, Hagia Sophia was begun and as Byzantium, the empire would profoundly influence the story of Europe until 1453 when the city fell to the Ottomans.

13. The Barbarian Migrations

The Barbarian Migrations

Intensifying in the 4th century, the incursions of barbarian tribes changed Europe utterly and established a main theme of the 1st millennium. What the Germans call the Volkerwanderung accelerated when the Rhine froze in the winter of 405/6 and theFranks slithered across to make France, the Vandals Andalucia and much else.

14. Islam


Like a juggernaut, Moslem expansion surged into Europe. The first siege of Constantinople was in 638, and by 711 invaders had crossed to Jabal Tariq, the name of the general who led them that became Gibraltar. By 732, the armies of Islam had reachedTours in France and been repulsed by the Burgundian and Frankish host of Charles Martel. The building of the mosque that became Cordoba Cathedral was begun.

15. How the Irish Saved Early European Culture

Skellig Michael

In the centuries of chaos after the fall of Rome in the later 5th, Irish monks such as Columbanus (c590) arrived as missionaries in Europe and founded many monasteries whose libraries rescued and preserved classical manuscripts.

16. Charlemagne


At a Christmas mass in Rome in 800, the Pope claimed to have anointed the King of the Franks as Holy Roman Emperor. In fact Charlemagne’s empire did not survive his death but the idea of it did.

17. The Vikings

The Vikings

In 793 Lindisfarne was attacked, then Iona and a slave market was eventually established at Dublin. Across Europe, Swedish Vikings sailed the great rivers of Russia to found the kingdom of Kievan Rus.

18. Iceland


Iceland’s first parliament met in 930 under the Law Rock by the lake at Thingvellir. Chieftains gathered there from all over the island and the law was recited from the rock so that all could hear and understand.

19. Magyar


At the Lechfeld in 955 Otto I of Saxony defeated the Magyars, halting their advance westward and instead establishing the kingdom of Hungary. Otto was crowned Holy Roman Emperor.

20. Orthodox


In 988 the kingdom of Kievan Rus, founded originally by Viking adventurers, adopted Orthodox Christianity, thus ensuring its survival beyond Constantinople and the shrinking empire.

21. Queen Tamar

Queen Tamar

At the end of the 12th century she led Georgia into a golden age of political and cultural influence and established Tblisi as her capital.

22. Ghetto


In the 11th century a Jewish quarter was established in Venice. Known as Il Borghetto, the little town, it was soon abbreviated to the ghetto. In 1189 and 1190 pogroms broke out in York and London.

23. Hansa


The Hanseatic League was a powerful commercial alliance based around the Baltic and the North Sea that left an immense cultural and architectural heritage from Bergen to Hamburg and many other towns and ports.

24. Cathedrals


From St Denis in France to Lublin in Poland great churches began to rise in the medieval period. These huge, awe-inspiring churches are monuments not only to faith but increasingly sophisticated engineering.

25. Schiedam


At Schiedam in 1262 an earthen barrier against the sea was built to reclaim the hjolt-land, the marshland and Holland began to creep westwards.

26. Florence


The rise of the city of Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarch, of the great Duomo and Giotto’s Campanile and the parallel and crucial development of banking and double entry bookkeeping in the 14th century.

27. The Black Death

The Black Death

The pandemic hit Europe in 1343, brought by Genoese sailors from ports in the Black Sea. Coming soon after the beginning of the Little Ice Ages, a series of protracted periods of bad weather, this appalling outbreak of plague wrought huge damage.

28. Switzerland


The confederacy of 26 cantons began to take shape in the late 13th century as the valley communities of the central Alps began to find common cause and heroes like William Tell helped preserve their independence.

29. Hus


Jan Hus was a theologian of the late 14th century based in Prague who was also a church reformer. After his execution in 1415, the Hussites in essence established the independence of Bohemia and Moravia, eventually Czechoslovakia.

30. Time


The earliest records of clocks are at St Paul’s in London in 1286 and in Milan in 1309. A medieval clock built in 1386 still operates in Salisbury Cathedral. The mechanical recording of time began the long and slow process of changing reckoning itspassage by the weather and seasonal phenomena.

31. Gutenberg


Made in Mainz by Johann Gutenberg, the first printing press in Europe inaugurated a dramatic revolution in information technology.

32.The Fall of Rome

The Fall of Rome

The empire lasted long after the barbarians deposed Romulus Augustulus in 476 in Italy. It fell in 1453 when the Ottomans finally breached the great land walls of Constantinople.

33. Kremlin


Ivan III, Grand Duke of Moscow has the Kreml, the vast fortified city completed and the beginning of the creation of a vast nation-state was underway as Russia expanded in all directions.

34. Islamic Western Europe

Islamic Western Europe

The fall of the Moslem city of Granada was witnessed by a Genoese sailor, Cristoforo Colombo in 1492. The emir and his soldiers were forced out but their cultural influence would persist in Europe – from algebra to trigonometry and optics.

35. Perspective


Massacio, Ghiberti and Brunelleschi in early 15th century Florence. The painter, sculptor and architect would lay the foundations of European art with their radical departure from late medieval forms and methods.

36. Luther


Outraged at the sale of indulgences, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses against the excesses of the papacy on the church door in Wittenberg Castle and began the process of reformation that would convulse Europe for centuries.

37. Praise Him

Praise Him

The beginnings of direct worship by the laity and the enormous influence of the Lutheran vernacular musical tradition in creating the musical lingua franca of Europe.

38. Knox at St Andrews

Knox at St Andrews

Beseiged in St Andrews Castle, captured, forced to be a galley slave and then released, Knox and others develop the idea of the priesthood of all believers that leads to mass literacy first in Scotland before spreading over Northern Europe.

39. Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Tycho Brahe

Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Tycho Brahe

Cosmology radicalized in Cracow, Italy, Prague and Denmark. The sun and not the earth was henceforth seen as the centre of the universe.

40. The Royal Society

The Royal Society

Founded in London in 1660 by Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle and Christopher Wren and inspired by Francis Bacon.

41. Exploration


The voyages of Columbus, John Cabot, Amerigo Vespucci, Magellan and Tasman, and the arrival of syphilis in Europe.

42. The Habsburgs

The Habsburgs

Europe’s most enduring and meddlesome dynasty. Their power persisted for generations as royal families intermarried and new kingdoms adopted Habsburgs as monarchs.

43. Opera


Its origins in Italy and elsewhere.

44. Netherlands


The fight for independence from Spain and France after 1584, and the immediate flowering of a new culture with Van Dyke, Rubens, Vermeer and Rembrandt.

45. William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Perhaps the greatest and most prolific playwright and poet in history.

46. The War of the Three Kingdoms

The War of the Three Kingdoms

The first of the great European revolutions saw a king executed and a commonwealth instituted under a dictator. The convulsions of the Commonwealth would later influence the French and other revolutions.

47. Gustavus Adolphus

Gustavus Adolphus

The rise of Sweden and the bloodthirsty Thirty Years War (1618 – 48) that raged across continental Europe.

48. Ottoman Europe

Ottoman Europe

Belgrade was taken by Islamic forces in 1521 and the Balkans absorbed under the rule of the Caliph in Istanbul. This would lead to a combustible cultural mix in south-east Europe that would flare into war again and again.

49. Colonnade


To open an appropriately grand piazza in front of St Peter’s in Rome, Gianlorenzo Bernini submitted a design for a series of colonnades in 1667.

50. Sonata


Meaning ‘sounded’ this referred to music that was not sung and by the late 17th century came to be applied to a particular form of composition that came to dominate almost all instrumental music.

51. Enlightenment in Scotland

Enlightenment in Scotland

The Edinburgh and Glasgow of David Hume, Adam Smith and the design of the new town by James Craig.

52. Square Bashing

Square Bashing

As armies began to professionalise, some developed distinctive ways of marching. The Prussians and Russians favoured the goose step while the French and British did a slow march. Uniforms were gradually introduced as Europe’s nations mobilized thefirst paid regular soldiers since the centuries of the Roman Empire.

53. The Sun Kingdom

he Sun Kingdom

From the long reign of Louis XIV, from 1661 to 1815 and the fall of Napoleon, France was the richest and most dominant nation in Europe.

54. Earthquake


In November 1775 the city of Lisbon was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. Between 30,000 and 40,000 died in this natural disaster, one that followed eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna and other catastrophes such as the Great Fireof London.

55. Vienna


In 1683 the Ottomans pushed westwards and besieged the Austrians in their capital. They were rescued by a spectacular cavalry charge led by King John III Sobieski of Poland.

56. Catherine the Great

Catherine the Great

One of the greatest of the rulers of Russia, she helped create a powerful state whose focus was turned to Europe. A rare example of a powerful female despot, she died in 1796.

57. The Last Charge

The Last Charge

When the Highlanders marched onto Drumossie Moor near Culloden House on the morning of 16th April, 1746, the last political expression of Celtic Europe was blown to bits by a relentless cannonade and the last charge of a medieval host that carriedonly bladed weapons was defeated.

58. Mozart


In the Tyl Theatre in Prague in 1787, an expectant audience took their seats for the premiere of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

59. Mr Watt and M. Jacquard

Mr Watt and M. Jacquard

These two men revolutionised transport and industry with the improvement of the steam engine and the invention of the automated pattern loom.

60. The Ode to Joy

The Ode to Joy

The careers of Schiller and Beethoven

61. Revolution

The careers of Schiller and Beethoven

In 1789 the French Revolution began and then the tumultuous period until the takeover by Napoleon – it changed France and Europe utterly.

62. Jacques Louis David and Napoleon

Jacques Louis David and Napoleon

The career of the painter and the emperor were intimately conjoined. Not troubling to conceal his manly tears, the Emperor of France bid farewell to his faithful Imperial Guard at Fontainebleau on the morning of 20th April, 1814 but the heroic careerof Napoleon would forever be immortalized by David and ever remembered in France’s constitution.

63. Norway


After the end of the Napoleonic wars, Norway made the break with Denmark after 400 years and began to establish a distinct identity.

64. Death on the Line

Death on the Line

In 1828 George Stephenson’s Rocket was on its trial run on the line between Liverpool and Manchester when the eminent politician, William Huskisson, was unable to get out of its way, not believing that the train could travel so fast, and after beingbadly injured died.

65. Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and Andre Michelin

Carl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and Andre Michelin

The development of the car and how it changed the shape and conception of Europe.

66. Blue Jeans were a European invention in the USA

Blue Jeans were a European invention in the USA

Levi Strauss was a Bavarian émigré who combined Serge de Nimes (the French town), or denim, with a style of hard-wearing trousers worn by Genoese sailors, Genes is the French spelling of the Italian city and the root of what most people wear much ofthe time.

67. Famine


The callous devastation allowed to take place in Ireland in the 1840s.

68. Matterhorn


In 1865 Edward Whymper climbed the mountain and invented a sport as well as making the Alps and Switzerland tourist destinations.

69. Football


In 1863 the Football Association was founded in London and the game spread rapidly to Europe.

70. The Origins and Nature of Man

The Origins and Nature of Man

The work of Charles Darwin and Georg Hegel.

71. Revolutions


Across Europe the year 1848 saw several revolutions. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had met in Paris and in the same year the Communist Manifesto was published. Its ringing phrases echoed around the continent.

72. The Prado

The Prado

Opening in Madrid in 1819, the Prado was one of the first great art collections to be opened to the public. The works of El Greco, Goya, Velasquez and Murillo are at its core.

73. The Kalevala

The Kalevala

The foundation myth of Finland was matched by many others as 19th century nation-states came into existence. King Arthur, Wagner’s Das Rheingold, The Mabinogion, Charles Martel – all of these tales formed part of nations’ sense of themselves.

74. Green Peas

Green Peas

In his garden in Brno in Moravia, Father Gregor Mendel, Abbot of the Augustinian monastery, laid the foundations of modern genetics with his experiments into the propagation of the garden pea.

75. Blight


In 1868 phylloxera devastated the French vineyards and those or other countries. Brandy and soda, the preferred tipple of Victorian gents was replaced by whisky and soda, a great boost to the Scottish distillers. This episode is an opportunity to tell the story of wine-making in Europe and its origins in Georgia and Iran.

76. Otto von Bismarck

Otto von Bismarck

The Iron Chancellor who created Germany out of the mosaic of the Holy Roman Empire.

77. Einstein


Freud and many others make up the glittering Jewish intellectual tradition in Europe.

78. Tour de France

Tour de France

At 2.15pm on 1st July, 1903, sixty cyclists set off on the first Tour. Since then it has burgeoned with winners from Italy, Belgium, Spain and Britain as well as France.

79. 3rd August 1914

3rd August 1914

At the Foreign Office in London, Sir Edward Grey feared that the lamps were going out all over Europe as the German, Austrian, French, Russian and British armies mobilized.

80. Easter Rising

Easter Rising

The events of 1916 in Dublin. The lives of James Joyce and WB Yeats.

81. Elsie Inglis

Elsie Inglis

An Edinburgh surgeon she was instrumental in organising the Scottish Women’s Hospitals. They were set up on all the Allied fronts. Dr Inglis died in November, 1917, after a year in Russia.

82. The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and the ensuing civil war

The October Revolution in Russia in 1917 and the ensuing civil war

83. The Menin Gate and the scenes of greatest slaughter at Ypres, Verdun, Douamont and Gallipoli

The Menin Gate and the scenes of greatest slaughter at Ypres, Verdun, Douamont and Gallipoli

84. The Tide of Darkness

The Tide of Darkness

The rise of fascism, Mussolini, Stalin and Hitler and economic chaos in Europe between two world wars.

85. Guernica


Picasso’s great painting of the attack on the Spanish town and the outcome of the civil war as Franco joined the ranks of fascist dictators.

86. Esperanto


Invented by L L Zamenhof in the 1880s, this constructed language became a symbol of peace and international harmony in the 1930s as more than two million learned it. Dankon. Thank you.

87. The Jarrow March

The Jarrow March

Perhaps the most potent image from the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s.

88. Collectivisation


Stalin and the planned economy of the Soviet Union.

89. Blitzkrieg


The invasion of Poland and the overrunning of Western Europe by the German army. Dunkirk and the Fall of France.

90. Stalingrad and Kursk

Stalingrad and Kursk

The turn of the tide in Russia with the great siege and the greatest tank battle.

91. The Holocaust

The Holocaust

Images are more powerful than words.

92. The Normandy Landings and Nuremberg

The Normandy Landings and Nuremberg

After the surge of allied armies eastwards and the defeat of Germany, at Nuremberg in November 1945, the war trials began.

93. The Cold War

The Cold War

Winston Churchill’s speech about the Iron Curtain and the submergence of Eastern Europe. The Berlin blockade, the Cuban Missile Crisisand the Prague Spring were three focal points of conflict.

94. The Expiry of European Empires

The Expiry of European Empires

The Dutch, the British and the French had all gone by the early 1960s and the Portuguese held out longest in Angola, Mozambique and Goa.

95. Visionaries


The first Council of Europe met in Strasbourg and Robert Schuman conceived the plan that would lead to the establishment of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1952, the seed that grew into the European Union.

96. Sputnik


The first satellite was a 23 inch sphere with 4 radio antennae attached and Sputnik was launched in October 1957, to the surprise and fury of the USA. They were even more angry when Yuri Gagarin made the first journey into outer space with one orbitof the Earth in 1961.

97. Linkage


Europe drew closer as the TGV was built, the Channel Tunnel dug, the Oresund Bridge and Tunnel opened, the Europabrucke and the Europoort at Rotterdam was built.

98. The Gulag

The Gulag

The work of Aleksander Solzhenitsyn and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

99. Collapse and Renewal

Collapse and Renewal

On 12th November, 1989, border guards stood idly by while crowds destroyed the Berlin Wall, and out of the rubble a new Europe began to emerge.

100. Sarajevo


The Bosnian conflict.

101. Collisions


In 2008 a 17 kilometre tunnel was dug near Geneva to house the Large Hadron Collider and in 2012 the Higgs Boson particle was discovered. Our understanding of the nature of matter and the universe was altered and the accepted Standard Model Theorywill undoubtedly change.

102. Final Panel

Final Panel

This complex story builds up to the final panel which will reflect a much more complex and divergent Europe of today.