The Great Tapestry of Scotland was completed in the summer and currently holds the record for being the world’s longest embroidered work. It attracted some 30,000 people when it first went on show during August at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, and there are already plans for a repeat display in 2014, between July and September (no coincidence about the timing, surely?!).
Since October it has been housed in a wonderful setting, along the coast, about 10 miles east of Edinburgh. I visited Cockenzie House this afternoon and was again amazed at the quality and detail of the panels. With 160 panels on show, you can’t help but notice something new every time. However, what also struck me was that the tapestry engages visitors so completely that complete strangers start talking to one another, pointing out details and commenting on the events the panels represent. Surely the sign of a successful exhibit!
For good measure, here is the panel we helped to embroider, The Great War panel (no. 118). My mother and I were both involved, but so was my grandmother on my father’s side – or more to be more precise, we included the badge of the Women’s Hospital Corps to which she belonged. Many of the stitchers working on the panels spanned the generations and that, too, made it a very special project to have been part of.
There is an extraordinary Gothic folly in the garden, built by one of the Cadell family – possibly Hew Francis Cadell – in the 18th century. The building material is said to be Icelandic lava fragments, which were used as ballast. The word ‘Hecla’ (on the facade) appears to refer to the Hecla volcano on Iceland.
The tapestry will certainly help to boost visitors to the house and gardens, and it also pays tribute to the skill of the tapestry’s designer, Andrew Crummy, who comes from Port Seton/Cockenzie and whose workshop is literally next door, in what used to be the Cockenzie Schoolhouse.