More than 100 painstakingly created cloth panels tell the story of Scotland since 8500BC.
And now, after a tour around venues across Scotland, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is going to its final home in the £6.7m Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre in Galashiels and will open to the public alongside an Iconic Scotland exhibition next year.
The vision of author Alexander McCall Smith, the tapestry was crafted by more than 1,000 stitchers who took over 50,000 hours to complete it
It tells the story of Scotland through stage, music, sport and science, with contributions from leading figures and members of the public.
Outlander star Sam Heughan, actress Joanna Lumley, Shetland author Ann Cleeves, athlete Liz McColgan, rugby hero Doddie Weir, charity Tiny Changes (with words from the late Frightened Rabbit singer Scott Hutchison) and broadcaster Jill Douglas were among those to contribute.
Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre Director Sandy-Maxwell Forbes said:
“The Great Tapestry of Scotland is an artwork truly born from the love of the places, people and stories that feature within it.
I’m delighted to reveal that this great love and world-renowned story telling continues into our opening Iconic Scotland exhibit. We have already received wonderful contributions from some of the most inspiring and iconic people.”
He said that people were ‘a big part of Scotland’s story.
“It is the people of Scotland, their achievements and their warmth of welcome that really put our much loved small country on the map,” he added. “It is their accounts throughout history and their continued passion and pride that give us our identity. Indeed this is why the Great Tapestry of Scotland has received global acclaim.
“We want to ensure our new national gallery and exhibition space will always be where Scotland’s story truly begins.”
The tapestry, which contains 160 hand crafted panels and 300 miles of wool, was designed by artist Andrew Crummy.
Joanna Lumley was delighted to feature, she said.
“The Great Tapestry of Scotland is all about telling the people’s story of Scotland, so it seems only apt that my contribution to their opening exhibit showcases how inspired I was when I visited the childhood home of one of Scotland’s best loved authors, JM Barrie,” she said. “I get goose bumps every time I visit.”
Jill Douglas said it was fantastic to see the tapestry and exhibition celebrating ‘some of our sporting greats.’
“It’s a privilege to feature alongside them and share the drama and excitement of one of my most memorable moments, being trackside when Sir Chris Hoy won his first Olympic gold medal,” she said. “I’m particularly thrilled to see that the new exhibit features Doddie Weir. He was an outstanding rugby player and is now facing one his greatest challenges. After being diagnosed with motor neuron disease, he has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of this devastating disease through his charity, My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. A remarkable individual, Doddie deserves to be included among Scotland’s greats.”
As well as featuring notable events and individual success, the tapestry also touches on the Covid pandemic with the words of NHS Borders Clinical Director Dr Jonathan Aldridge reflecting on what it has been like for him and his team to work at the frontline.
Other well-known names featuring in the exhibit include renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, footballer John Collins, TV chef Tony Singh, ultrasound pioneer Tom Brown, and trailblazer for equal opportunities Sarjoj Lal, author Damian Barr, Arbroath Smokie producer Iain Spink, former Scotland international rugby star Chris Paterson and the Duke of Argyll.
Grant O’Rourke, who starred as Rupert Mackenzie in Outlander, said:
“It makes me immensely proud that the people’s story of Scotland is being told in my hometown in this way.
The spirit of the Borders and our whole nation is forged in our stories. Having a national cultural resource like this in Galashiels is a great way of connecting the people of the Borders to Scottish culture and hopefully connecting the people of Scotland (and further) to the Borders.”
For more information about the new visitor attraction visit www.liveborders.org.uk/gtos or follow @GreatTapestrySc on Facebook or Twitter, and @GreatTapestryScotland on Instagram.
Published /heraldscotland.com/news/ 30 September 2020