After 1,950 hours of needlework, the final stitches of The Arbroath Tapestry have been sewn by a skilled group of embroiderers to complete a showpiece element of the Arbroath 2020 celebrations
The intricate, three-panel tapestry has now been handed over to the safe-keeping of Historic Environment Scotland where it was unveiled at a special reception at the Scottish Parliament.
The tapestry will be on long-term display in Arbroath Abbey from early April to coincide with the 700-year anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.
Linda Walker, one of the nine-strong team of embroidery and textile artists who worked on the spectacular piece said: “We created the Arbroath Tapestry for the people of Arbroath so it’s only fitting it will be displayed for all to see within our town’s historic Abbey during the Arbroath 2020 commemorations and beyond.”
The Declaration of Arbroath is a letter sent from Scotland’s nobles to Pope John in Avignon on April 6, 1320.
Widely acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most important documents, the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath has inspired Arbroath 2020, a six-month programme of special events.
Alex Paterson, chief executive of Historic Environment Scotland (HES), who manage Arbroath Abbey, said: “We’re delighted to be receiving the Arbroath Tapestry and making it part of the Abbey’s continuing story.
“This amazing piece of craftmanship not only tells the story of the Declaration of Arbroath but also covers key moments in the history of the Abbey right up to the present day.
“This magnificent tapestry doesn’t just pay tribute to the importance of the Declaration – it also shows how the people of Arbroath are working together in imaginative ways to celebrate the extraordinary history of their town and its Abbey.”
Angus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey who hosted the Holyrood event, said: “The painstaking work, stretching to almost 2,000 hours in total, on the part of Linda Walker and her team has produced a stunning tapestry which memorably captures the history of the Declaration and all it stands for.
“I’m in no doubt the Tapestry will prove a real crowd puller when it goes on display in the Abbey.”
The artwork’s three richly-coloured panels were designed by Andrew Crummy, designer of the Great Tapestry of Scotland.
The central panel portrays Robert the Bruce and Abbot Bernard of Arbroath writing the Declaration,with the two smaller panels representing the role and influence of the Abbey within Arbroath.
“William I, founder of the Abbey, is depicted in one panel, along with a fisherwoman, highlighting the importance of the local fishing industry.
“The right panel represents the many trades which were involved in building and maintaining the Abbey and depicts two Scottish nobles setting sail to deliver the Declaration to Avignon,” added Linda.
The tapestry is decorated with Arbroath’s unique Oslin apples, introduced to the area by the Abbey’s monks, and 46 seals of the barons who ‘signed’ the Declaration of Arbroath.
Linda added: “These seals were very tricky as they’re small and very detailed – and had to be accurate depictions of the seals on the original Declaration.
“Each seal involved hours and hours of research before we even started stitching.”