Jacobite treasures will go on public display for the very first time at the new Perth Museum

The new Perth Museum will open to the public this month at Easter Weekend. As part of the new permanent display, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s sword and a rare Jacobite wine glass will both go on public display for the very first time. This will be the first time the sword has returned to Scotland since it was made in Perth in 1739. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s solid-silver hilted broadsword was made by Perth craftsman James Brown, believed to have been given to him in 1739 by James Drummond, the 3rd Duke of Perth. It would have been an important symbol of Charles Edward Stuart’s claim to the Scottish throne whilst the Jacobite court was in exile in Rome in 1739.

Significant pieces of Jacobite history

Lucy Brayson Collections Assistant at Perth Museum holds an 18th century Jacobite Glass. Photo Julie Howden.

The stunning Jacobite wine glass will also be seen at Perth Museum for the first time and features the Duke of Perth’s family motto, ‘Gang Warily’. It has recently been acquired by Culture Perth & Kinross, the charitable trust which will run Perth Museum in partnership with Perth & Kinross Council, and with support from the National Fund for Acquisitions. James Drummond, Duke of Perth, played a vital role in the last Jacobite Rising of 1745-6. He raised a regiment in Crieff and met Charles Edward Stuart in Perth in September 1745 where he was appointed joint commander of the Jacobite forces. Although Drummond was well-liked by the prince and his men, he was an inexperienced soldier. He was a member of the Jacobite ‘Council of War’ for the invasion of England, and attempted, but failed, to induce the clans to charge at the enemy during the final defeat at Culloden. He escaped but died a few weeks later at sea in May 1746.

Perth Star Targe. Steel, wood, brass, 1740s. Photo Julie Howden.

JP Reid, Senior New Projects Officer, Culture Perth & Kinross said, “We are thrilled to be able to publicly display these two significant pieces of Jacobite history for the first time. Perthshire sits at the heart of the Jacobite story: the scene of large-scale pitched battles like Killiecrankie and Sheriffmuir, besieged homes, scorched-earth warfare and warring kinsfolk. The Drummonds are key players in the 50 years of uprisings from 1689 – 1746. Three generations of committed Perthshire Jacobites, they gambled and lost everything in their support of the exiled Stuarts.” These two new objects will be viewed alongside other significant Jacobite material from the Perth and Kinross museum collections including a rare and ornate ‘star’ targe or Highland shield, possibly made by William Lyndsay. Lyndsay was a shieldwright from Perth responsible for equipping many of the Jacobite troops during their occupation of Perth.

Cradle of Scotland

Render of the Main Hall inside Perth Museum. Image: Mecano.

Perth Museum will tell the story of Scotland through the story of Perth as the nation’s first capital: how the Kingdom of Alba was forged in the area known as the ‘cradle of Scotland’, and where the modern Scottish nation was later shaped through writers, artists and thinkers connected to Perth. From when the first Scottish King was inaugurated on the Stone of Destiny, also known as the Stone of Scone, the city became a medieval powerhouse driven by technological innovation, powerful national and international political alliances, and major economic forces which shaped both ancient and modern Scotland. The Stone of Destiny is returning to Perthshire from Edinburgh Castle, close to its origins at nearby Scone, for the first time in over 700 years. As the centrepiece of the new museum, the Stone will be free for all to visit.

Charles Kinnoull, Chair of Culture Perth & Kinross, said, “The collections held here in Perth and Kinross are recognised for their national significance and are in constant development. The opportunity to bring new objects such as this beautiful Jacobite glass and sword alongside loans from national partners and the existing collections and the Stone of Destiny, all within a stunning new home in the former City Hall is one which I could not be more excited about. The collaboration between many different partners to bring all this about in the heart of one of Scotland’s oldest cities has been outstanding.”

Carpow Logboat

Perth Museum. Photo Greg Holmes.

Othe items on display at the Museum include the 3,000-year-old Carpow Logboat. The logboat is 9 metres long  and the largest object going on display. Carved from a single 400-year-old oak tree trunk, it then lay buried in the banks of the River Tay, near Perth, for 3,000 years until it was discovered 22 years ago. The vessel is a rare survival of the Bronze age due to the peaty soil composition of the Perth and Tay Estuary area, a unique environment that preserves ancient organic material that would usually be lost to time. Radiocarbon-dated to around 1,000 BC, the logboat is one of the oldest and best-preserved of its kind in Scotland, giving a tantalising glimpse of the thriving life and advanced technology of the past on Perth’s doorstep. When the logboat returns to public display this month, it will be shown alongside some of the other fascinating Bronze Age finds from the river, notably swords and other metalwork that highlight the importance of the River Tay in everyday and ceremonial life.

Perth Museum will be a new addition to an already vibrant cultural scene in Perth and Kinross which includes the recently transformed Pitlochry Festival Theatre, a facelift for Perth Art Gallery and the ongoing expansion of the Iron Age Crannog Centre in Highland Perthshire. The new museum represents a major investment in the economic and community wellbeing of the area as part of a wider regeneration strategy for Perth. The Museum, which has undergone a £27m transformation of the former City Hall,  is housed in a heritage Edwardian building that once served as a gathering place hosting everything from markets and concerts to political conferences and wrestling matches. The Museum will also feature a café, shop, learning and event spaces, and a major exhibition programme throughout the year.

Perth Museum has also announced that Unicorn will be the first exhibition when the doors of the new museum open. Unicorn is the first major UK exhibition to explore the cultural history of Scotland’s national animal from antiquity to the present day. Through the material culture of this mythical beast the exhibition will explore themes such as Scottish Royalty and national symbolism that also relate to the objects and stories on display in the new permanent galleries.

The new Perth Museum will open its doors in Perth on Saturday 30th March 2024. For more information see: www.perthmuseum.co.uk

Main image: Render of Perth Museum. Image: Macanoo.

Leave a comment

Select your currency