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CHECK. MATE.Lewis Chessmen become part of '25 objects that shaped Scotland's history' on Internation

From a Roman distance slab to a medieval football, Antarctic goggles to a dancing fiddle - VisitScotland has today (20 July) 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. The final 25 were chosen by a panel that included representatives from Historic Environment Scotland, National Museums of Scotland, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and VisitScotland. 


VisitScotland hopes that visitors will go on a trail this summer 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


The national tourism organisation is encouraging the public to suggest their own ideas for objects that have played a part in Scotland’s history that haven’t been included in the list.  Suggestions can be made on social media using the hashtags #25objects #hha2017


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.


Gwen Raez, Senior Marketing Manager at VisitScotland said:


“After months of deliberation, we’re delighted to unveil the list of 25 objects that we think best represent Scotland’s rich and colourful history – but it is by no means an exhaustive collection and we know there will be many more out there that people want to add!  We chose items that were not only important to the history of the country, but also had an interesting narrative behind them and would inspire people to find out more.


“Scotland’s history, heritage and archaealogy are among the top reasons for visiting Scotland.  2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism in every single corner of the country. We hope lots of visitors enjoy this fascinating e-book.”


Dr Jeff Sanders, Dig It! 2017 Project Manager at the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland said: 


“As you can imagine, capturing thousands of years of Scottish prehistory and history with just a handful of objects was not an easy task! It’s great to see a mixture of old favorites and unexpected items come together to tell a story that opens with the first hunter-gatherers and stretches all the way up to our living memory. Now that the list has been revealed, it’s the perfect time to discover Scotland’s stories for yourself during the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.”


Helen Ireland, Director of External Relations, National Museums Scotland said,


“We are delighted to be part of this enterprising project in the Year of History Heritage and Archaeology. The five objects selected from the national collections demonstrate the incredible range of our collections. We hope that the e-book will encourage even more people to discover the outstanding heritage of Scotland and to visit the National Museum of Scotland in particular.”


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


VisitScotland is encouraging the public to suggest their own ideas for objects that have played a part in Scotland’s history that haven’t been included in the list.  Suggestions can be made on social media using the hashtags #25objects #hha2017

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