Stirling Tapestry Unveiled
25 September 2007
The third in the spectacular Hunt of the Unicorn series of tapestries being recreated for Stirling Castle is to be unveiled to the public at a special reception on 27 September 2007. Woven by hand by weavers from the West Dean Tapestry Studio within the grounds of the castle, this important work of art measures 12ft by 14ft (3.45 x 3.30 m) and will hang in the Chapel Royal.
Work on the tapestry, entitled The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle, was originally started in 2003, with weaving commencing in 2004, and is the third in a series of seven. The series depicts the story of the hunt and capture of a unicorn. The tapestries also contain hidden meanings which can be ‘read’ as both a religious story and as a medieval love story. It is not known for whom the tapestries were made, although the initials A and E (the E backwards) are woven into all seven.
The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle will be unveiled by Mrs Patrick B Buchanan OBE.
John Graham, Historic Scotland Chief Executive said: ‘The tapestry is a remarkable piece of work which, along with the rest of the series, will be a major attraction at the castle for many generations to come. We are delighted that Mrs Buchanan has been able to travel from the USA to join us for the unveiling of the tapestry and to celebrate the halfway point in this project. None of this would have been possible without the generous donation and support we have received from Mrs Buchanan’s family foundation.’
Mrs Buchanan, who is from New England, has a long association with Scotland and was awarded the OBE for her work in encouraging interest in the nation’s heritage. Her family’s Quinque Foundation is the major funder of the seven tapestries. The last is due for completion in the summer of 2013. Donations have also come from other sources and funding has been provided by Historic Scotland.
Mrs Buchanan said: ‘It is a great pleasure to be here once again and to perform the unveiling of the latest tapestry. This is an inspiring project which means that modern versions of the finest European tapestries in the world will hang in the castle, which was once home to many magnificent medieval tapestries. It also helps keep alive the tremendous skills that were needed to create works of such quality and detail.’
Following a brief ceremony guests will be invited on a guided tour of the tapestry studio and the rest of the castle.
Notes for editors
A series of fact sheets are available on request for journalists providing further details of the project, the castle and a biography of Mrs Buchanan.
Photographs of the tapestry, and of the weavers, at various points during the project are available on request.
The original Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries dating from 1495-1505 have been on display since 1937 in New York at the Cloisters Museum, which houses the medieval collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The series is widely accepted as some of the finest Medieval tapestries in the world.
The Stirling Tapestry project is indebted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for granting permission to Historic Scotland to recreate modern versions of The Hunt of the Unicorn. The weavers of the present day tapestries have been granted unique access to study and colour match the seven medieval tapestries.
The photographic library at the MET has also been instrumental in the process of providing images from which the weavers can produce the full-scale cartoons used as their guide during weaving.
Tapestry was an integral part of medieval and renaissance interior decoration in the large state-rooms and great halls of Scottish Royal residences. It provided decoration and a lavish display of wealth and also kept out the cold and damp.
Further information on the company making these tapestries, West Dean Tapestry Studio may be found by visiting www.westdean.org.uk/tapestrystudio or by telephoning 01243 818277 or e-mail communicationswestdean.org.uk.
Stirling Castle is in Stirling at the head of the old town. Telephone 01786 450000. Tickets are £8.50 for adults, £6.50 concessions and £4.25 children.
Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/properties.
Historic Scotland’s Mission is: to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.