Paisley Shawls listed amongst ‘25 objects that shaped Scotland’s history’

The Paisley Shawls have been unveiled by VisitScotland as being amongst the top 25 objects to have shaped Scotland’s history, as highlighted in a stunning new e-book.

Other items appearing in the list include a Roman distance slab, a medieval football, Antarctic goggles, a carved footprint and a dancing fiddle.

The shawls’ distinctive design originates from India and was first woven in Paisley around 1808. The town became the epicentre of production for the iconic teardrop pattern over the following century and eventually the names of the town and pattern became synonymous.

The Paisley Shawls - which were popular with Queen Victoria - can be found in Paisley Museum which holds the finest collection of shawls in the world. They symbolise a golden manufacturing era when Scotland, as an active player in the Industrial Revolution, capitalised on the demand for a product.

Compiled for the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, the 25 objects cover over 5,000 years of Scottish history and span the length and breadth of the country from Shetland to the Scottish Borders.

The objects were selected based on chronological and geographic spread alongside their individual interesting stories. The final 25 were chosen by an expert 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 and #hha2017.

Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology began on 1 January 2017. To date, a large number of funded and partnership events have taken place across the country including Scotland in Six and Edinburgh Georgian Shadows, Tradfest, Dig it! 2017, Festival of Museums, and a range of activities across Historic Environment Scotland locations.

Annique Armstrong, Regional Director at VisitScotland, said: “It is fantastic to see the Paisley shawls on this list of the top 25 objects which shaped Scotland’s history. The list has been selected to 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.

“Like the shawls, objects were selected that are not only important to the history of the country, but which also have an interesting narrative behind them, that would inspire people to find out more. It is great news for Paisley coming so soon after the announcement that it has been shortlisted for the UK City of Culture 2021.

“Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology 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.”

Jean Cameron, Project Director of Paisley's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021, said: "We are delighted VisitScotland has recognised the collection of Paisley shawls as one of the top 25 items to have shaped Scotland's history. At one point in the 19th century the Paisley shawl was the must-have fashion accessory - inspired by Queen Victoria herself wearing one.

"The collection in Paisley Museum is internationally significant and a fascinating showcase of the creativity and craftmanship which defined the town and carried its name around the world. Just as Paisley made textiles, textiles made Paisley, as the wealth of that era shaped the architecture and town still around us today.

"The town's bid to be UK City of Culture 2021 aims to celebrate all of the above, as well as how Paisley's creative legacy can be reinvigorated and reconnected for the 21st century."

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

Find out how you can pledge your support for Paisley 2021.