30,000 visitors for giant artwork at parliament

Alexander McCall Smith and Andrew Crummy with the tapestry. Picture: Neil Hanna

Alexander McCall Smith and Andrew Crummy with the tapestry. Picture: Neil Hanna

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Thousands of people have been clamouring to get into the Scottish Parliament building – and no, not to watch a debate, but to see the world’s longest tapestry.

By the time a hugely ­popular showing of the Great Tapestry of Scotland closes tonight, an estimated 30,000 people will have viewed the 500ft long tableau over just three weeks.

The huge queues stretch around parliament

The huge queues stretch around parliament

But for those who missed it, there is good news – the ­tapestry is to return to the ­parliament for an extended stay next summer.

The exhibit tells the story of Scotland from pre-history to modern times. It was created by 1000 nimble-fingered volunteer stitchers across the country.

And – as this picture from yesterday shows – the number of visitors has been far higher than anticipated.

Some travelled from the south of England to visit the tapestry after seeing it on ­television. Often, people had to queue for up to an hour to get in.

One insider said: “We knew it would be popular but no-one expected anything like this. We naively thought interest might tail off towards the end, but it has been the exact opposite – numbers have gone through the roof.”

The tapestry is now due to go on tour, but will be on show again at Holyrood for three months between July and September next year. The exact dates have yet to be 
confirmed.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick said: “The tapestry’s attraction is not only in the beautifully detailed panels that depict everything from politics to popular culture, but that it was created by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland. I am delighted to be able to announce the tapestry will come back to the ­parliament in 2014, to allow thousands of people the opportunity to witness this display of Scotland’s history.”

Historian Alistair Moffat, one of the key figures behind the tapestry, said: “There was no better place than the Scottish Parliament to launch the Great Tapestry of Scotland.

“At the heart of our democracy, it looked stunning and Scots came in droves to see it, queuing patiently to look at the gorgeous panels in what was a curiously intimate 
experience.”

iswanson@edinburghnews.com

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