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Read our regular staff blog and get a behind-the-scenes-view of life and work at Stirling Castle.

The Stirling Tapestries

by StirlingCastle 27. July 2011 03:24


          
 
We are approaching a really exciting time in weaving the series of tapestries. Visitors can see four of them looking splendid, already hanging in the palace; the fifth to be completed, ‘The Unicorn at Bay’ has been cut off the loom  The team at West Dean Studio are making excellent progress on the sixth tapestry which will be completed next year.


We had a fantastic celebration to cut the tapestry off the loom.  Many of the loyal followers of the project,  who had seen the progress over time, attended to finally see the finished product. Visitors to the castle can still see the tapestry in its full glory in the studio before it is hung in the Palace in the autumn.


             

In the Stirling workshop we now are starting on ‘The Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn.’
Unlike the others so far, this is not a replica of a full panel. It is based on two surviving sections of the tapestry showing a single huntsman; parts of four dogs, and central figure and the Unicorn amongst a forest of trees. Eagled eyed visitors may also spot a coloured sleeve just under the Unicorn’s chin.

This is the most challenging part of the project  because from this we have had to research and design the surrounding area to make it the same length as the others so that they are uniform when they are hanging in series.

As a reference, we have used  design books from around the period that contain the popular motifs each of which has a specific meaning. The appreciation of  tapestries in the 16th Century was about interpreting the symbolism as well as enjoying the intricate and beautiful workmanship.

Louise Martin, senior weaver

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A Child of the Royal Court

by StirlingCastle 20. July 2011 05:06

If you’re looking for something to do with the kids this weekend, then I recommend you bring them along to A Child of the Royal Court at Stirling Castle.

            


Our fabulously costumed characters will take you back five hundred years to experience what life would have been like for a child living in the Castle. From 11:00am until 4:00pm there will be a host of activities: a school for jesters and spies, a treasure hunt around the Castle, an audience with Mary Queen of Scots, a storytelling session and a demonstration of the weapons used at that time. You can also find out how to be a knight, why boys wore dresses until they were seven and why washing just isn’t any good for you.

Hope to see you there – I’m particularly looking foward to a game of medusa and statues, a Renaissance take on a popular modern game, as the young squires try to prove themselves worthy of becoming knights.

See you there!

Gareth Cheeseman, Events Manager.

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Her Majesty Visits the Palace

by StirlingCastle 7. July 2011 12:40

It could not have been more appropriate – a royal palace being officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen. Yesterday the castle and its staff warmly welcomed Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh to view the Renaissance palace at Stirling Castle after its £12 million refurbishment.

 

Ruth Parsons showing Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh around the palace

The Queen arrived at the castle at around noon. She wore an ice blue hat in sinamay with black goose quill arrowheads and black contrasting brim, and an ice blue brocade dress. The royal couple visited the apartments where Mary Queen of Scots spent her early childhood, along with her mother Mary of Guise, widow of James V and Dowager Queen of Scotland. They were provided with a guided tour by Historic Scotland Chief Executive Ruth Parsons and were accompanied by Head of Major Projects Chris Watkins. At the end of the tour Her Majesty unveiled an engraved wooden plaque commemorating the official opening of the palace.

 

It was a huge thrill to have the opportunity to meet Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. During and after the tour the royal couple were introduced to people who had played a key role in returning the palace to how it may have looked in the 1540s. These included some of the traditional craftsmen and women whose skills in everything from painting, furniture-making, metalwork, weaving, embroidery and carving have brought the palace interiors to life.

 

The Queen and the Duke then attended a lunch in the Great Hall, which is the largest surviving medieval banqueting hall in Scotland. The menu included smoked hock terrine, poached darne of Loch Duart salmon and classic lemon tart with raspberry sauce. Musical entertainment was provided by youngsters from Raploch’s Big Noise orchestra. Guests included First Minister, Alex Salmond, the earl and countess of Mar and Kellie, Anne McGuire MP and Bruce Crawford MSP and the Lord Lieutenant Marjory McLachlan.

 

Gillian Macdonald, castle executive manager.

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