Battle looms over plans for world’s longest tapestry

The 104-metre tapestry was expected to go on display at Prestonpans Museum
The 104-metre tapestry was expected to go on display at Prestonpans Museum
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Fears have been raised that a Lothians tapestry believed to be the longest in the world may have to be displayed elsewhere in Scotland because of a row over funding.

Campaigners say they are exploring the possibility of moving the Battle of Prestonpans tapestry out of the Lothians entirely because of a delay in making provisions for it at an East Lothian museum. The Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust had hoped to put it on display at the Prestongrange Museum, along with a centre dedicated to the battle’s history.

But a meeting with Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop this week to discuss plans for the tapestry was scrapped at the last minute, amid the trust’s claims that East Lothian Council had made little progress with plans.

It is also claimed that the local authority preferred that the minister did not visit the museum in the run-up to the election. Dr Gordon Prestoungrange, founding chairman of the trust, said: “We have always said there has to be an investment in improving the museum site to make it viable to house our tapestry there.

“With a definite commitment by the council for such improvements, we proposed to raise more than £2 million to create the battle and tapestry buildings.

“Now, two years on, it seems we are no further forward and with no prospect of any action by East Lothian Council in the foreseeable future. We have to think realistically whether this site is, in fact, the best location.”

The trust claimed the council had said that, despite the site being included in its most recent capital budget, it had no priority and no agreement that the battle trust and tapestry could even locate there.

The trust’s Gareth Jones said: “We’ve had a couple of approaches from people outside East Lothian looking to host the tapestry, and one of the locations is outside the Lothians. We would really rather see the tapestry stay in East Lothian and, if possible, Prestonpans.”

Commissioned by the trust, the tapestry – thought to be the longest in the world at 104 metres – was created in 2010 with the help of 200 volunteers, including 89 from East Lothian.

An East Lothian Council spokesman said: “It is very disappointing that certain elements of the Battle of Prestonpans Heritage Trust have chosen to take this stance. Just last week we had a very constructive discussion with the trust and we would hope to continue to foster positive relations with them.

“While no decisions have been taken yet on the trust’s hopes of sharing the Prestongrange site, we are still very much in discussion on this.

“We were not involved at all in the arrangements for the ministerial visit.”