Thieves who stole part of artwork depicting centuries of Scottish history from a Fife museum may have been inspired by best-selling book The Da Vinci Code.
The theory has been floated after a panel illustrating the story of Rosslyn Chapel which is heavily featured in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel – was taken from the Great Tapestry of Scotland display at Kirkcaldy Galleries on Thursday.
No clues were left as police try to track down the panel, although the connection to Rosslyn Chapel which is said to hold the secret of the Holy Grail in Brown’s book has prompted suggestions the culprits may have deliberately targeted that particular section.
Despite the link to the Illuminati, project manager Jan Rutherford told The Courier yesterday that the thieves were probably after the panel for its aesthetic value rather than anything more outlandish.
“Yes, this panel depicts the Apprentice Column in Rosslyn Chapel but sadly I think that the reality is more likely to be that this panel was removed because it is quite simply stunning,” she said. “The seven stitchers involved created a unique and beautiful work of art and the detail shown in their stitching is remarkable.
“The panel is one of the smaller ones and so easier to remove and to hide as the culprit left the building.
“We have had messages of support from all over the world, many expressing great sadness that someone would have done this and offering their support to the stitchers involved.
“The weekend has been spent getting the message out in the hope that we could shame whoever took the panel to return it in good condition.”
The Great Tapestry of Scotland, which has been on display in Kirkcaldy since June 20, is one of the biggest community projects in the world, with more than 1,000 volunteers involved in creating 160 individual panels.
There have been suggestions that the missing panel could be restitched to make the artwork complete again, although Ms Rutherford hopes the piece can still be found.
“The original stitchers are still coming to terms with the loss and, if the panel is not returned, then they will consider restitching,” she added.
“But it is an enormous undertaking 500-plus hours of stitching. And it would never be the same.
“A great painting can be recreated but it is never the original. The same is true of the panels in the tapestry.”
Alistair Moffat, historian and author and co-chair of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, said that people had been appalled by the theft. “It feels more than a loss, like a violation, even a desecration,” he added.