Rare Mary Queen of Scots chair to go on public display

10 January 2024
A 16th-century wooden chair used by Mary Queen of Scots for her religious devotions has been lent to the Borderlands Museum by an anonymous collector, to be displayed at the museum this spring.

Ahead of the opening of a Mary Queen of Scots exhibition at the Borders Museum in Teviotdale this spring, the chair has been lent by an anonymous donor, and is returning to Scotland for the first time since 1568.

Following Marys execution in 1587, the chair was most likely secretly recovered by supporters of Mary, and remained hidden in the centuries following her death.

Julia Moffatt, exhibition organiser, helps set up the 2024 Mary Queen of Scots display. Julia is holding a period carving of Elizabeth I 'Gloriana' - a parody relating to another artifact in the exhibition, which depicts Elizabeth holding the executed head of Mary © The Borderlands Museum

Elizabeth I of England depicted as a 'harpy', holding the head of Mary Queen of Scots © The Borderlands Museum

The exhibition will also include modern commemorative tapestries made by the Royal Ateliers, Hand and Locke, and musical composition by piper and fiddler Kathryn Tickell, ‘The Highway to Hermitage’ inspired by Mary’s dramatic ride along the prehistoric path, The Queens Mire, to visit her injured lover The Earl of Bothwell at Hermitage castle.

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The Borderlands Museum

Established in 1986, The Borderlands Museum displays artefacts from the Iron Age through to the age of the Reivers, and demonstrates of the prehistoric landscape in which it is set (The Teviothead Volcanic complex), with a particular focus on the Gods, Goddesses and Warriors of the Iron Age.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage campaign

As preparations for the exhibition continue, The Borderlands Museum has appealed to Scottish Borders Councillors that the Teviothead Volcanic Complex gain protected status, and be recognised for its Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Although this land today is included in UNESCO’S World Heritage Frontiers of the Roman Empire, the museum team explain that it does not as yet have any designated or adequate protection, nor a programme of care.

The museum's appeal follows appeals to the Scottish and Westminster Governments, The Scottish affairs committee, MP John Lamont, MSP Rachael Hamilton, and Landowner the Duke of Buccleuch, to initiate and support gaining protected status for the Teviothead Volcanic Complex, and for the region to be recognised for its intangible Cultural Heritage.

The Mary Queen of Scots exhibition goes on display in spring 2024. For updates, visit The Borders Museum website.

Photo © The Borderlands Museum; Mary print from The Met New York, by William Home Lizars, Gift of Susan Dwight Bliss, 1958