The Great Tapestry of Scotland: Welcome Panel Tour heads to the Scottish Borders

The five partially completed panels held out by the stitchers. (Photo: Phil Wilkinson).
The five partially completed panels held out by the stitchers. (Photo: Phil Wilkinson).

Visitors and residents across Scotland in 2020 are being given a unique opportunity to become part of Scotland’s history, heritage and culture for generations to come through The Great Tapestry of Scotland: Welcome Panel Tour.

The programme of events will give people the chance to work with some of the country’s leading textile artists and add a stitch or two to the new welcome panels for the major new national visitor attraction housing the Great Tapestry of Scotland, one of the world’s most significant pieces of modern textile artistry.

Led by culture and leisure charity Live Borders, the Great Tapestry of Scotland Welcome Panel Tour will visit iconic and accessible venues throughout Scotland, including Marchmont House on Saturday February 1 and Floors Castle on May 2 and 3, 10.30am to 5pm.

When complete, the new Welcome to Scotland’s Story panels will be permanently displayed at the entrance to the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s £6.7 million purpose built interactive visitor centre, which opens in 2021 in the historic town of Galashiels.

Those who contribute a stitch will also be given the chance to have their names recorded in history as a contributor to the Tapestry’s visitor centre.

Speaking of the Welcome Panel Tour recently appointed Great Tapestry of Scotland Centre Director Sandy Maxwell-Forbes, said: “Telling the people’s story of Scotland and making this story accessible to everyone has always been at the heart of the Great Tapestry of Scotland, so we’re incredibly excited to be giving those who live in Scotland, and those visitors who love our country so much, an opportunity to stitch their name in Scotland’s history through our new Welcome Panel Tour. We would like to thank all the venues and event organisers throughout Scotland who are making this this possible.

“In keeping with the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s ethos, it is vital that as many people as possible have an opportunity to contribute to the panels. As part of the tour, we’re taking the Welcome Panels directly to venues, such care homes, to remove some of the barriers that some individuals face to accessing such significant cultural projects. We will add more venues throughout the year.”

Many of the stories told through the Great Tapestry of Scotland, which was completed in 2013, have strong ties to the history, heritage and culture that can be experienced first hand on a visit to Scotland. Building on this and, continuing the Tapestry’s ethos to tell the people’s story of Scotland, the new Welcome to Scotland’s Story panels will tell some of the true stories linked to the visitor centre’s new home in Scotland’s premier textile region, The Scottish Borders. The panels will feature a reiver, a shepherd, a monk, a mill worker and a fisher lass. By the time they are complete, it is hoped that over 1,000 different people from across Scotland and beyond will have contributed to them.

Linda Wigley, Operations Director at Floors Castle, which is hosting the tour on May 2 and 3, said: “We are thrilled to be hosting the Great Tapestry of Scotland’s Welcome Panel tour. It is an incredible opportunity for people visiting Scotland to learn first hand from some of Scotland’s greatest textile artists and to firmly root themselves in Scotland’s history, heritage and culture for generations to come.”

Scottish Borders Council’s Executive Member for Business and Economic Development, Councillor Mark Rowley, added: “I’m delighted the Welcome Panel Tour will take in some of the exceptional venues we have in the Scottish Borders, highlighting both the region’s significant textile heritage and the vibrancy of today’s artists, makers and manufacturers.