James V’s lost tapestries recreated at Stirling Castle

A 14-year project to recreate the lost tapestries of the Scottish king James V has been completed at Stirling Castle

14 year project to recreate the lost tapestries of James V completed at Stirling Castle

The Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn Unveiled 

A 14 year project to recreate the lost tapestries of James V has been completed at Stirling Castle. 

The final tapestry in the series ‘The Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn’ woven by Master Weavers at West Dean Tapestry Studio was unveiled at Stirling Castle  today (Tuesday, 23rd June) marking the culmination of the biggest tapestry project undertaken in the UK in the last 100 years.

The project was commissioned by Historic Scotland in 2001 as part of a wider project to restore the interiors of the palace of James V to how they may have looked in the 1540s, when it was home to James’ wife Mary of Guise and their young daughter, Mary, Queen of Scots. 


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The final tapestry in the project, ‘The Mystic Hunt of the Unicorn’, was revealed earlier this week. This unveiling officially marked the end of the largest tapestry project undertaken throughout the past century in the UK.


The project was instigated in 2001 by Historic Scotland in an attempt to show how the interiors of Stirling Castle looked during the reign of the Scottish king James V and his wife, Mary of Guise.

The team behind the project searched the castle’s inventories of James’s possessions and found that the Scottish king owned more than 100 tapestries. One set of tapestries the team was particularly keen to track down was called ‘the historie of the unicorne’. After extensive research, the team found the set of seven Flemish tapestries from the 15th century in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Following this key find, 18 weavers were brought together from across the world to attempt to recreate the ‘Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries to be displayed at the castle.

Now, for the first time, visitors to Stirling Castle will be able to see all seven of the tapestries on display together.

Peter Buchanan, project manager for Historic Scotland, said: “Whilst we may never know what happened to the original tapestries, the fact that we now have these fantastic recreations, with the assistance of the Met in New York and through the generosity of our donors, will provide visitors to the castle now and for generations to come with a real insight into how the palace may have been at the time of James V.”


This is not the first project undertaken to recreate aspects of Stirling Castle. In 2011 Historic Scotland completed a £12 million project to reconstruct the oak medallions that decorated the ceilings of the castle during James V’s reign. You can take a look at the carved medallions by clicking here.