The Great Tapestry of Scotland is one of the UK’s largest ever community arts projects. From 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 metres that tells the stories that together make up Scotland’s history. In September 2015 the panel depicting the Apprentice Pillar, and other carvings, at Rosslyn Chapel was stolen while on exhibition in Kirkcaldy Galleries. The thief has never been identified and the panel has never been recovered. On 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 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 its 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.
Future 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.