A HUNTING knife that belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie and King James VI’s hunting bottle in a leather case are two of the intriguing items from the collection at Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford home which began a special touring exhibition this week.
The show, which also includes the writer’s top hat, opened at the Borders Textile Towerhouse in Hawick on Tuesday, where it runs until June 17. It will be at the St Ronan’s Visitor Centre, Innerleithen from June 25 to August 30, before, concluding at Sir Walter Scott’s Courtroom in Selkirk (September 15 to October 31).
The free exhibition, comprising more than 20 rare objects and entitled Scott on the Road, is a joint venture between the Scottish Borders Council (SBC) museums service and the Abbotsford Trust which is spearheading the multi-million-pound renovation of the house – currently closed as the work proceeds.
The initative aims to showcase to locals and visitors a sample of Scott’s collections and illustrate the historical and cultural significance of the novelist and his Borders home.
The main house at Abbotsford will re-open to the public in 2013 and a new visitor centre, currently under construction, is scheduled to open later this summer.
Other items in the touring display include Scott’s spectacles, walking cane, goose-feather quill pen and writing box as well as portraits of the writer, a miniature painting of Prince Charles Edward Stewart, the Montrose Sword, a pair of 18th century Scottish pistols and an iron thumbscrew.
Dr Sandra McNeil, the trust’s learning and engagement officer, explained: “While Abbotsford’s doors are closed to visitors, we thought this would be an ideal opportunity to take some of the precious objects normally displayed in the house on the road.
“It’s a small sample of the collections gathered by Scott, together with some of his personal effects and a brief background on his life, his Abbotsford home and his links to the Borders.
“We hope it will provide a flavour of the fascinating attraction that Scott’s home and our new visitor centre will become once they are completed.”
Rosemary Hannay, of SBC’s museums service, said: “We are delighted to host this fascinating touring show which offers a unique insight into the contribution Scott has made to life and culture in our region.
“Some of our museums have close links with Scott, both as a writer and as a local sheriff, and we hope both visitors and locals will take this opportunity to view some of the extraordinary Abbotsford collection.”
All of the objects displayed in Scott on the Road will return to the house when it re-opens next year. A selection of the items belong to the Faculty of Advocates Abbotsford Collection Trust while the remainder are owned solely by the Abbotsford Trust.
For more information on Abbotsford, visit www.scottsabbotsford.co.uk