Part of the Great Tapestry of Scotland stolen in 2015 has been recreated so that the epic artwork can be seen in its entirety once again after it takes up permanent residence in the Borders in 2020.
The missing panel, depicting a pillar at Rosslyn Chapel in Midlothian, was taken while the tapestry was on show in Kirkcaldy in Fife in September 2015 and has never been recovered.
Its original stitchers, all from in and around Roslin, have been at work on a replacement since April last year, and it was unveiled at the 15th century chapel this week.
Project historian Alistair Moffat said “What the women of Roslin have achieved is something remarkable.
“Not only have they refused to let the miserable people who stole the original panel win, but they have also poured all their love and labour into creating a stunning new panel of the apprentice pillar that is even more powerful.
“Their panel will have a special place in my heart, and it will join its companions in the new building to house the tapestry in Galashiels.”
The seven stitchers – Margaret Humphries, Jean Lindsay, Anne Beedie, Jinty Murray, Barbara Stokes, Fiona McIntosh and Phillipa Peat –worked for hundreds of hours to embroider the replacement now set to join the tapestry’s 159 other panels at a new £6.7m home about to be built for it in Galashiels town centre.
Fiona said “We were all devastated that our panel had been stolen, but we are happy now that it has been remade and delighted that it will once again take its place with the rest of the tapestry.”
The new panel is almost identical to the original, but there are some small differences added by designer Andrew Crummy to distinguish it from its predecessor.
Future exhibitions of the tapestry are planned at Alloa in Clackmannanshire from the end of this month to mid-August and in Dundee from late August to late October.
It will go on permanent display at the old post office in Channel Street, Galashiels, and a vacant shop unit next door in High Street from 2020.
Rob Dickson, Scottish Borders Council’s corporate transformation and services director, said: “The Great Tapestry of Scotland will be a catalyst for creating a destination of national and international significance and will help to strength the existing textiles innovation and heritage community in the area.”
“It’s very exciting when a new panel is completed, reminding us all about Scotland’s unique and compelling story and the important role this plays in our economy through tourism.”
A dozen of the 160 panels that once again make up the 469ft-long tapestry, completed in 2013 after being suggested by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith, were stitched by volunteers in the Borders.
Galashiels was among the locations at which panels were stitched, along with Stow, Tweedbank, Lauder, Hawick, St Boswells, Jedburgh, Melrose, Kelso, Coldstream, Tweedmouth, Ednam, Gordon, Duns, Smailholm, Gordon, Peebles, Selkirk and West Linton.