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[Overheard from Cameron of Lochiel before microphone was switched off: ] "Well Done Stitchers!"

The Cameron Clan Chief declares his support for our gigantic Jacobite tapestry

Local participants in a massive national community embroidery project recently met with Donald Cameron of Lochiel, the 27th Chief of Clan Cameron, who gave the project his unreserved backing.

The Stitchers photographed with Lochiel, who come from around Lochaber, are helping to create what is set to become the world’s longest tapestry. It will measure 104 metres and will describe the 1745 journey of Bonnie Prince Charlie leading up to his most famous victory at Prestonpans.

Inspired by the famous 78 metre Bayeux Tapestry, the Prestonpans Tapestry consists of 104 separate one metre panels which are being embroidered by some 200 volunteers from around the country and beyond. Each panel depicts a different aspect of the Prince’s journey. One third of them show the month he spent in the Western Highlands gathering support for his campaign.

The most important of his early supporters was Donald Cameron of Lochiel, the 19th Chief of Clan Cameron, also known as ‘Gentle Lochiel’.

A staunch Jacobite, he was the first significant clan chief to come out for the Prince, overcoming his grave reservations over the wisdom of the campaign. Many followed his lead, resulting in a sizable Highland army of 2,500 which fought so successfully at Prestonpans.

The present clan chief, Donald Cameron of Lochiel, met with the Stitchers at Achnacarry Castle in Lochaber, his ancestral home and the site of the Clan Cameron Museum. Also present was Arran Johnston, an Executive Trustee of the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust which commissioned the tapestry project.

Lochiel was able to provide a great deal of information on his family’s part in the ’45 rising and he saw for himself the progress of several of the panels telling of his ancestors involvement. [The work in progress in the photograph shows the Cammerons successful charge to capture the redcoat cannons at Prestonpans on September 21st 1745.] All the individual panels are due to be finished by June 30th.

Once the tapestry is stitched together by the end of July, it will tour the Highlands over the summer, before finding its permanent home in Prestonpans. Confirmed dates in the Highlands and around Lochaber so far are:

30-31 July - Eriskay Village Hall
3-4 August - Astley Hall in Arisaig
21-22 August – Glenuig Hall - to coincide with the Glenfinnan Highland Games.
August (exact dates tbc) – Nevis Centre, Fort William

In support of the project Donald Cameron of Lochiel said:

“This is a truly exciting project, and I'm delighted that so many people local to Lochaber are involved in it. I am very much looking forward to seeing the completed tapestry when it comes to the area in the summer. I've been a patron of the Trust since its foundation in 2006 and this is one more example of the excellent work it is doing to honour The Prince and all he tried to achieve as but a young man.”

Arran Johnston of the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust added:

“From its inception 12 months ago this project has grown into one of the most ambitious multi-community projects to have be seen for a long time.

“Over 200 people are now busy embroidering the 104 panels which were researched and designed by talented East Lothian artist Andrew Crummy. The quality of the work is totally outstanding and we estimate that by the time it is finished it will have taken over 15,000 hours to create.

“Over the summer we are touring the tapestry around the communities which have a connection to the Prince’s journey as a thank-you to the many volunteers in each area. We hope that a great many people will take the opportunity to see it when it comes to their area in the summer.

“This tapestry will leave a lasting legacy which will be treasured by the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust. We hope to create a fitting Living History Visitor Centre at the site of the battle which will become the permanent home for the tapestry. In the meantime it will tour around venues across Scotland and beyond, reaching as large an audience as possible.”

Full details of the tapestry and the tour dates as they evolve at THE TAPESTRY WEBSITE HERE

From left in the photograph: Joan Kerr from Banavie, Helen Brodie from Arisaig, Norma Callison from Fort William, Anne Cameron from Arisaig, Daphne Stewart from Caol, Arran Johnston of the Battle Trust and Sandra Provan from Corpach. Seated at front is Donald Cameron of Lochiel.

Published Date: May 1st 2010

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