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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK
Castle unveils medieval tapestry
Stirling Tapestry
The new tapestry will hang in the castle's Chapel Royal
A tapestry that recreates part of a priceless Renaissance work of art has been unveiled at Stirling Castle.

The intricate 12ft by 14ft tapestry, entitled The Unicorn is Killed and Brought to the Castle, has taken a team of weavers four years to complete.

It forms the third part of the famous 16th century Hunt of the Unicorn series of tapestries, being recreated at the castle at a cost of 2m.

The original tapestries are housed in a museum in New York.

Work to recreate the set of seven tapestries is due to finish in 2013.

Historic Scotland unveiled the third work to the public at a special reception within the castle, where it is to hang in the centuries-old Chapel Royal.

'Love story'

The original tapestries, woven between 1495 and 1505, once adorned the walls of the castle, which was once the seat of the Stewart Kings.

They are believed to have been bought by King James V and appear in every Scottish royal inventory from 1539 to 1578.

John Graham, chief executive of Historic Scotland, said: "This is a very special contribution to the restoration of one of Scotland's finest castles.

"It is also helping to keep important traditional skills alive.

"Watching the weavers at work on the wonderful colourful tapestries has now become established as one of Stirling Castle's key attractions."

They contained vibrant colours and gold threads which would shimmer in the candlelight, to give at least an illusion of much needed warmth in the cold stone rooms
Craig Mair

It is not known exactly who the original tapestries were first made for, although the initials A and E, the E written backwards, are woven into all seven originals.

They are also said to contain "hidden meanings" which can be interpreted as both a religious story and as a medieval love story.

They are now housed in the Cloisters Gallery of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and are considered among the finest examples in the world.

Stirling historian Craig Mair said the tapestries were an integral part of medieval and renaissance interior decoration in the chambers, state-rooms and great hall at the seat of the Stewart monarchs.

He said: "Tapestries provided decoration and a lavish display of wealth as well as keeping out the cold and damp.

"They also contained many vibrant colours and gold threads which would shimmer in the candlelight, to give at least an illusion of much needed warmth in the cold stone rooms."

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