Presiding Officer sews first stitch on Great Tapestry of Scotland

Tricia Marwick sews stitch Presiding officer Tricia Marwick and writer Alexander McCall Smith sewed the first stitch on the tapestry

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The presiding officer of the Scottish parliament has sewn the first stitch in what is hoped will be the longest embroidered tapestry in the world.

Tricia Marwick began the Great Tapestry of Scotland which will illustrate the country's history and will involve hundreds of volunteer stitchers.

It is one of the biggest community arts projects in the world.

The tapestry will be 141m in length when finished and should be exhibited at Holyrood in August 2013.

The project is the brainchild of Scottish writer Alexander McCall Smith, artist Andrew Crummy and historical writer Alistair Moffat.

The team has constructed a list of 150 key moments in Scotland's history.

From the splintering ice dome over Ben Lomond to the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the panels depict Scotland's history, science, culture, industry and politics over the centuries.

Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick MSP said: "I am honoured to have been asked to sew the first stitch in a tapestry that is destined to become part of our Scottish cultural heritage.

"It will be made all the more powerful by the hundreds of volunteer stitchers from communities across Scotland who will bring the tapestry to life."

When finished it will be a record breaker, beating the current longest tapestry - the Keishamma in South Africa - by more than 20m.

It will be 70m longer than the famous Bayeaux Tapestry in Normandy.

Writer and project chairman Alexander McCall Smith said: "In the parliament today there begins one of the biggest and most beautiful community arts projects ever.

"The parliament represents Scotland and that is exactly what this tapestry will do too."

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