Welcoming the World: the Diaspora Tapestry

The story of Charles Edward Stuart, the Jacobite cause, and the Battle of Prestonpans are well-known around the world. We look forward to welcoming visitors from far and wide, and the living history centre will aim to include audio facilities in numerous languages at the core exhibition. The importance of ancestral tourism to the Scottish economy, the global popularity of Outlander, and the high number of overseas support for petitions to protect Prestonpans Battlefield when it was under threat, all demonstrate the scale of international interest in the Jacobite story. The Trust is working to build relationships in the tourist trade to ensure this can be harnessed successfully.

An important part of the Trust’s collection is the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, 305 embroidered panels depicting snapshots of Scotland’s international legacy. Taking the community engagement model of the Prestonpans Tapestry out to thirty-four different countries, this large scale exhibition engaged over a thousand volunteer stitchers right around the globe. Since 2014 the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry has toured Scotland, Europe, Australia and Canada, commanding large audiences who find the personal stories it contains both moving and relatable. The living history centre at Prestonpans will also provide a permanent home for this internationally renowned artistic achievement.

The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry will provide an additional point of interest for visiting audiences, and is a powerful attraction in its own right. It also creates an opportunity for the centre to explore the role of Prestonpans as “Scotland’s Tapestry Town”, supporting our aims to attract diverse and returning audiences. Our vision is to create an exhibition space which will be dedicated to this remarkable artwork, capable of displaying thematic sections of the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry as part of a scheduled rotation, whilst leaving other sections available for touring exhibition. Digital platforms will allow visitors to explore the sections of the Tapestry which are not currently being shown in the centre.

Expert textile conservators have assessed the Scottish Diaspora Tapestry as well as The Prestonpans Tapestry as part of the preparations for our vision. We will continue to engage with them as the centre is designed. By providing a permanent base for them at the living history centre, both tapestries will benefit from a stable facility which protects them for the future.