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Lewis Chessmen become part of ‘25 objects that shaped Scotland’s history’ on International Chess Day. VisitScotland reveals unique list for 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

July 24, 2017 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

From a Roman distance slab to a medieval football, Antarctic goggles to a dancing fiddle- VisitScotland has today revealed the top 25 objects that have shaped Scotland’s history in a stunning new e-book.

The list has been unveiled on International Chess Day (20 July) as a special nod to the most famous chess pieces in history – the Lewis Chessmen  – who feature at number 9 on the date ordered list.

Compiled by an expert panel for the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the 25 objects cover over 5000 years of Scottish history and the length and breadth of the country from Shetland to Dumfries and Galloway.

The objects were chosen based on chronological and geographic spread alongside their individual interesting stories. VisitScotland hopes that visitors will go on a trail while on holiday to discover as many of the objects as possible and in turn discover more about Scotland’s fascinating past.

The oldest object in the list is a barbed harpoon point (originally found in the Macarthur Cave, Oban) that dates back to the Middle Stone Age, and is one of the earliest instruments used to hunt and fish in Scotland. The most modern in the list is Dolly the Sheep – the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell – who is currently housed at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and celebrated her 20th anniversary in 2016.

More unusual objects on the list include the Orkney Venus – the earliest known depiction of the female human form – which dates from the Neolithic period and was uncovered at the Links of Noltland on the Orkney island of Westray in 2009.

A violin which ignited Robert Burns’ rebellious streak, revealing more about the great Bard’s personality is another object that makes the final cut.  The Gregg Violin was owned by Burns’ dance teacher, William Gregg. In around 1779, Robert Burns started taking dancing lessons and wrote that he hoped these new skills would ‘give my manners a brush’, but it was most likely an act of rebellion because his father did not approve of such seemingly sinful behaviour.

Full list of Scotland’s History in 25 Objects:

  1. Barbed Harpoon Point
  2. The Orkney Venus
  3. Poltalloch Jet Necklace
  4. The Carpow Logboat
  5. Mousa Broch
  6. Roman Distance Slab
  7. Carved Footprint
  8. St. Martin’s Cross
  9. The Lewis Chessmen
  10. Stone Effigy at Sweetheart Abbey
  11. Robert the Bruce Equestrian Statue
  12. Honours of Scotland
  13. Oldest Football
  14. Castle of Mey Tapestry
  15. Penicuik Jewels
  16. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Travelling Canteen
  17. The Gregg Violin
  18. Sir Walter Scott’s Desk
  19. Mackintosh Trail Music Room
  20. Paisley Shawls
  21. Tom Morris Junior Medal
  22. Dallas Dhu Stencil
  23. Captain Scott’s Snow Goggles
  24. Steam Locomotive “Maude”
  25. Dolly the Sheep

Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology began on 1 January 2017.  To date, hundreds of events have happened across the country including Scotland in Six, Weave, Edinburgh’s Georgian Shadows, Tradfest, Dig it! 2017, Festival of Museums and a range of activity across Historic Environment Scotland locations.

Scotland’s History in 25 Objects is now available to download at:

Infographic map of the 25 objects below:

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