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Scottish Parliament opening Thursday, 1 July, 1999, 18:20 GMT 19:20 UK
A symbol of authority
Mace end
The end of the Mace, presented by the Queen
The formal presentation of the Mace by the Queen to the Scottish Parliament was a proud moment for Galloway-based silversmith Michael Lloyd.

He designed the Mace, which was unveiled publicly for the first time at the opening ceremony.

Mr Lloyd was given just three months to produce the Mace, having been chosen from a shortlist of 10 craftsmen by a selection panel chaired by the Scottish Office.

The words "There shall be a Scottish Parliament. Scotland Act 1998" are engraved into one end.

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The panel, which included silversmithing and jewellery experts together with members of the Holyrood building design team, had asked for initial designs that were in keeping with the architecture of the parliament's ultimate home.

But as the 50-year-old gave his creation its final polish before the deadline, he told BBC Scotland News Online that the brief was far from his mind as he put together his initial ideas for its design.

"Most of the 10 of us totally ignored the brief we were given until we had virtually finished designing it," he said.

"I just personally thought what the Mace meant to me and what it should mean to everyone else and then read my brief. I was certainly three-quarters of the way through before reading it.

Assembly Hall scene
Mace presented in Assembly Hall
"As a designer you try and catch what is in the air and if you can't do that you probably aren't the person for the job.

"I felt there was a great feeling of optimism about Scotland - a new self-confidence. That did influence the design. I was trying to catch what is right for the time and the occasion."

He continued: "It needs quite a presence and because it is the national Mace, it needs to be distinctive.

"One thing which came into the specification was that we were all reminded that this was to represent the authority of the presiding officer."

Mr Lloyd, who has a studio in the Stewartry, Galloway, said he only began to get excited when he looked at what he had done and what the selection panel had asked for.

"I feel very sympathetic to what the Holyrood architect has done. I think it is immensely exciting.

"I am genuinely excited about the new parliament, provided that it generates this confidence that hopefully will enable the people of Scotland to do more."

Despite the historical significance of his commission, the craftsman said there was a strong personal element in the finished product.

Personal piece

"It has to be quite a personal piece - not something made to command because you have to put so much of yourself into it.

"A lot of passion goes into something like this. I have been totally absorbed for three months."

The display of the Mace for the first time was the silversmith's proudest professional moment, even though he already has works on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at several cathedrals around the country.

The symbol will be placed at a focal point in the debating chamber during sittings of the parliament - a constant reminder of Mr Lloyd's achievement.

"I feel immensely privileged - this is more a contribution to history than simply a piece of my work," he added.

Ken Macdonald: "The day began with a ceremony of quiet power"
Links to more Scottish Parliament opening stories are at the foot of the page.

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