Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Great Tapestry of Scotland

Bloggy friends may possibly remember that not that long ago I went to see the Prestonpans Tapestry, an emulation of the Bayeux Tapestry but about the Battle of Prestonpans and its related events. Well, the writer Alexander McCall Smith has been one of the prime movers of another such creation: The Great Tapestry of Scotland. (None of these is actually a tapestry, despite the name. They're embroideries. However.)

This one has panels designed by the same chap, Andrew Crummy (not a fantastic name) as did the Prestonpans Tapestry, and is along the same lines, but bigger. It has 160 panels, which is a lot - too much to take in at one viewing, really. It's on display at the Scottish Parliament, but only for a week initially, so the place was busy when we were there. The actual sewing has been done by stitching groups all over Scotland. A few of the panels - six, perhaps - weren't on display. Only the coloured design was there, with a notice: "Coming soon". One can imagine groups of women frantically sewing, desperate to finish... . One can also imagine a certain amount of friction between those who'd done their bit and those who hadn't.

It starts from prehistoric times, for example this depiction of an 8000 BC house. It looks somewhat cramped. I'm not sure what's supposed to be happening, but this couple are clinging together with some enthusiasm. I hope they're not about to be sacrificed or something. Maybe they're being married. Romance, 10,000 years ago. Their little barbecue looks a bit like what we used to do at Guide camp. I never liked Guide camp much. I prefer a bit of comfort and toilets and baths.

Here's John Knox, denouncing Mary Queen of Scots (perhaps). We're on stronger historical ground here, since this is roughly what Mr Knox looked like and his (reputed) house, shown here, still stands in the High Street. Not sure why he's so much bigger than the other chaps.

I really like this one, which concerns weaving and specifically Paisley patterns, which were made in (surprise) Paisley.

This one commemorates the reinstatement of the Scottish Parliament.

The stitching is really lovely, giving an impression of fields with different crops.

Next year we have a referendum about complete Scottish independence. Hmm.

The Tapestry is to go on tour to the US and Canada in due course, as well as the UK. I would recommend going to see it if it comes near you. Or you could just look at the website:

Look at this thank-you letter from our little Ugandan girls. They knew no English till 20 months ago and now they're fluent. They can even spell. Mainly.


Off to the museum today with the grandchildren and Daughter 1. Grandson does like to press buttons.
And to look at vehicles.

I wonder what 10,000-years-ago boys played with? Was the wheel invented 10,000 years ago? I suspect not.


  1. The tapestry is very interesting.....I bet it doesn't come to Australia though.

  2. I was going to ask if Alex McC Smith had lifted a needle himself, but now I'm just so flabbergasted at the language teaching that I can barely type.

  3. That tapestry looks so interesting -- I especially love the thistle. And I really love that sweet note from your little visitors -- how cute that they call you Auntie and Uncle!

  4. I've been looking at this wonderful tapestry for days now, very slowly. I think I first heard about it on the A. McCall Smith newsletter....It's a magnificent work which surely brought many people together and will be joy to thousands if not millions.

  5. So happy to see Grandson up and about again looking at the absolutely beautiful panels! I would live to see them when they come to the U.S.