14-year Stirling Castle unicorn tapestry completed

A 14-year project to recreate the lost tapestries of James V has been completed at Stirling Castle. Picture: Neil Hanna
A 14-year project to recreate the lost tapestries of James V has been completed at Stirling Castle. Picture: Neil Hanna
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A 14-year project to recreate the lost tapestries of James V has been completed.

The final tapestry in the series the Mystic Hunt Of The Unicorn was unveiled at Stirling Castle today.

Whilst we may never know what happened to the original tapestries, the fact that we now have these fantastic recreations will provide visitors to the castle now and for generations to come with a real insight into how the palace may have been at the time of James V

Peter Buchanan

The project was commissioned by Historic Scotland in 2001 as part of a wider bid to restore the interiors of the palace of the king to how they may have looked in the 1540s - when it was home to James’ wife Mary of Guise and their young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots.

It was known from royal inventories that when James V built the palace he owned over 100 tapestries, but there is no record of what happened to them.

The inventories, however, described a set of tapestries depicting “the historie of the unicorne”.

The project brought together 18 weavers from around the world and now visitors will be able to see all seven tapestries together from tomorrow.

Ruth Jones, the last weaver to work on the project, said: “It was fantastic to come on board as the 18th weaver on this unique project. Following in the footsteps of a medieval weaver has been a truly rewarding experience, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

“Recreating the last tapestry, the Mystic Hunt Of The Unicorn, from just two fragments of the original tapestry was an artistic challenge like no other, and one that I am particularly proud of.

“It’s been quite an emotional experience to see all seven panels hanging together in the palace for the first time and I hope that visitors to the castle will enjoy them for many years to come.”

Peter Buchanan, project manager for Historic Scotland, said: “It has been a privilege to watch these talented weavers painstakingly recreate the tapestries in all their Renaissance glory.

“Whilst we may never know what happened to the original tapestries, the fact that we now have these fantastic recreations, with the assistance of the Met in New York and through the generosity of our donors, will provide visitors to the castle now and for generations to come with a real insight into how the palace may have been at the time of James V.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I hope visitors to the castle will take the opportunity to enjoy the craftsmanship and skill behind these magnificent tapestries, which have brought together a global team to help tell the story of one of Scotland’s most magnificent palaces.”