Great Tapestry to go on display in Western Isles

Thirty panels from the Great Tapestry of Scotland will go on display at Museum nan Eilean, Sgoil Lionacleit in Benbecula next weekend, November 14th until December 22.

A number of events for all ages will be held at the exhibition.

Great Tapestry of Scotland originator, author Alexander McCall Smith, said: “I am delighted that The Great Tapestry of Scotland is coming to the Western Isles.

“The Western Isles have made a great contribution to the history of Scotland and this is reflected in a number of the tapestry’s panels.

“I hope that as many people as possible will take the chance to see this magnificent and moving work of art when it comes to them in November and December.”

The project’s co-chairman and historian, Alistair Moffat, said: “ S e seo eachdraidh eile na h’Alba. Eachdraidh ur agus eachdraidh a tha muinntir na h’Alba fhein air a dheanamh.

“This is a history of all of Scotland, and one that attempts to compass not only the whole nation but also all of its people as it tells the stories of shepherds, weavers, ploughmen, crofters, fishermen and all of the people who made our story come alive. Kings, queens and other powerful people have their place, but this is a unique way of telling our history – because it was made by the people of Scotland, a thousand stitchers, from Berwickshire to the Butt of Lewis.”

Trish Campbell Botten, Principal Officer Libraries and Heritage added: “We are delighted to welcome the Great Tapestry of Scotland to the Outer Hebrides in our council museum space in Benbecula.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to see such an impressive piece of art and history on our own doorsteps and to see the work created by local stitchers.”

Five of the tapestry’s stitchers are residents of the Western Isles. Margaret Macleod and Mary Macleod, the Lewis Stitchers, combined to make an early panel representing the visit of the Greek traveller Pytheas, who took a reading of latitude at Calanais in the fourth century BC.

A stitching group who named themselves ‘The Sea-Mistresses’ worked on the panel depicting the loss of HMY Iolaire in 1919. This group consisted of Tracey MacLeod and Gillian Scott-Forest from Harris and Moira Macpherson from South Uist.

Over the months of winter stitching, this group sent their panel back and forth to each other in the care of Caledonian Macbrayne on the Leverburgh-Berneray ferry.

The panels on display during the exhibition are: 9. Pytheas Circumnavigates Scotland, Visits Calanais; 12. The Kingdom of Dalriada; 16. The Invasion of the Vikings; 26. Somerled, Lord of the Isles; 32. The Black Death; 39. Wool Waulking; 43. The Scottish Reformation; 51. Droving; 54. The Massacre at Glencoe, 1692; 60. The Jacobite Rising, 1745; 72. The Highland and Lowland Clearances; 73. Weaving and Spinning; 79. Robert Burns; 88. Sheep Shearing; 89. The First Reform Act, 1832; 97. Fitba; 101. Highland Games; 103. Shinty and Curling; 104. The Scots in North America; 106. The Battle of the Braes; 112. Herring Girls; 118. 1914-1918 war; 121. The Sinking of HMY Iolaire; 124. Whaling; 131. World War II; 150. Scotland’s World Cup in Argentina; 152. Gaelic Resurgence; 154. Dolly the Sheep; 155. The Scottish Parliament Reconvenes, 1999; 159. Ceaseless Sea.

The exhibition will be open in November from: Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-1pm & 2-5pm; Thur 10am-1pm & 2pm-7pm; Closed Sun & Mon.

December opening hours: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat 10am-1pm & 2-5pm; Fri 10am-1pm & 2pm-7pm; Closed Sun & Mon.