The Great Tapestry of Scotland

The stolen Rosslyn panel has been recreated by the original stitchers and has joined the Great Tapestry of Scotland on 1st May 201. Location: Rosslyn Chapel, Chapel Loan, Roslin, Midlothain, EH25 9PU

Unveiled on Monday 1 May, 2017 – the newly stitched Rosslyn panel

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is one of the UK’s largest ever community arts projects.

(Images courtesy of Alex Hewitt)

The Rosslyn Panel in the Rosslyn ChapelFrom the islands to the lowlands of Scotland over 1,000 stitchers worked for more than a year to complete an embroidered tapestry measuring over 140 meters that tells the stories that together make up Scotland’s history. In September 2015 the panel depicting the Apprentice Pillar at Rosslyn Chapel was stolen while on exhibition in Kirkcaldy Galleries. The thief has never been identified and the panel has never been recovered. Today (Monday 1st May) the original stitchers gathered at Rosslyn Chapel to reveal the panel they have lovingly and painstakingly created to replace the missing piece.

Project historian Alistair Moffat said “What the women of Roslin have achieved is something remarkable: not only have they refused to let the miserable people who stole the original panel win, they have also poured all their love and labour into creating a stunning new panel of the Apprentice Pillar that is even more powerful. Their panel will have a special place in my heart and it will join its companions in the new building to house the tapestry in Galashiels”.

The Rosslyn Panel, Andrew Crummy & the StitchersThe stunning replacement panel has been created by the seven original stitchers, all of whom live in Roslin and the surrounding area. Together, Margaret Humphries, Jean Lindsay, Anne Beedie, Jinty Murray, Barbara Stokes, Fiona McIntosh and Phillipa Peat worked for hundreds of hours to embroider the replacement which can now take it’s rightful place within the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s incredible narrative. Stitcher Fiona McIntosh said “We were all devastated that our panel had been stolen, but we are happy now that it has been remade and delighted that it will once again take its place with the rest of the tapestry”.

The new panel closely resembles the original, but there are some subtle design differences added by Great Tapestry designer Andrew Crummy to distinguish it from the original and different stitches used. Should the original panel ever re-emerge it will be used for outreach education activities.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland was spearheaded by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith, who together with historian Alistair Moffat, artist Andrew Crummy, and stitch-coordinator Dorie Wilkie, designed 160 historical panels each depicting a moment from Scotland’s past, from pre-history to the 21st century. The completed tapestry has been touring Scotland since 2013 and has been viewed by over 350,000 people.

Andrew Crummy and the Stitchers of the Rosslyn panelFuture exhibitions are planned at the Spiers Centre in Alloa from 29th May to 18th August 2017, and at the Verdant Works in Dundee from 26 August to 22 October 2017. Galashiels will be the permanent home for the Great Tapestry of Scotland from 2020, after the Scottish Government and Scottish Borders Council committed to the project in December 2016.

Rob Dickson, SBC’s Corporate Transformation and Services Director, said: “The Great Tapestry will be a catalyst for creating a destination of national and international significance, and will help to strength the existing textiles innovation and heritage community in the area.

It’s very exciting when a new panel is completed, reminding us all about Scotland’s unique and compelling story, and the important role this plays in our economy through tourism.”

The numbers behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland:
· 420 million years of Scottish history
· 50,000 sewing hours (equivalent to sewing 24 hours a day for 6 years!)
· 300 miles of yarns (enough to lay the length of Scotland and beyond!)
· 1,000 stitchers (over 40 called Margaret)
· 160 panels
· 1 beautiful tapestry depicting the entire history of Scotland!

See the website for more information.

Some of those involved in stitching the panels tell their stories below

In the early Spring of 2012, I read a very interesting article on the Scottish BBC news website about The Great Tapestry of Scotland. They were looking for volunteers
- either individuals or groups, who wanted to take part. I made contact with them, thinking it would be great to join a group and be involved in such a wonderful project, and at the same time make new friends - having only recently moved to the area. Within a very short time a panel arrived, together with yarns, and a suggestion that I might like to find someone to share the workload as it involved over 400 hours of work! Fortunately, I have a neighbour and friend who is a member of the Galloway Branch of the Embroiderers Guild, and this resulted in my joining the group. Working with some very gallant and talented stitchers who spent many hours working on the panel, it was completed and is now being prepared for hanging in the Parliament Buildings in Edinburgh

Jane McCandlish - Galloway Branch of the Embroiderers' Guild

On a dull day in November a group of ladies met in Rosemount Community Centre in Aberdeen to learn about a new project. Alison Black, Community Arts Officer, had invited ladies from creative stitchery classes, painting classes and knitting groups to discuss working on The Great Scottish Tapestry. Over 160 panels were to be completed to represent Scottish history. Our panel was The Great Depression of the 1930’s. This topic did not immediately inspire us. However as Heather King, tutor and consultant, began to teach us stitches such as stem, split, herring bone and we practiced on our small sample of canvas our enthusiasm grew. During the next few weeks groups of two, three or four of us tried out some of the stitches on the tapestry. We outlined some of the sections and realised we had a lot of work to do to complete it by the deadline of June. More.....

Maureen Stutchbury - Aberdeen North branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild

The Scottish Parliament held two events on Sat. 18th August 2012 to celebrate the creation of The Great Tapestry of Scotland. This nationwide, community arts project will depict those people and events which have shaped the history of Scotland from prehistoric times to the re-establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

The first of these events was held in the morning in the Education Centre of the Scottish Parliament and was entitled ‘A Stitch in Time’. Many of the volunteer stitchers from various locations all over Scotland attended this event, including Christine Rettig, Dorothy Stalker and Lindsay Morrison from the Glasgow Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild, who will be embroidering one of the panels. At the meeting, Andrew Crummy, the artist who has been commissioned to design the 160 (plus) panels, explained the concepts behind his designs and invited those at the meeting to comment on and suggest changes or additions. The aim, he said, is to create a series of one metre square panels that tell the key moments in Scottish history. Although each panel will focus on one moment, within it will be other stories. Andrew finished by saying that the stitchers involved ‘should have fun interpreting each panel. Dorie Wilkie, the Stitch Co-Ordinator and Gillian Hart, the Administrator for the project, explained how the project will be organised and carried out by over 500 volunteer stitchers throughout Scotland.

Lindsay Morrison - Glasgow and District Branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild

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