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Jedburgh prepares for a right royal occasion

Jedburgh and its surrounding community are preparing to mark the 450th anniversary of when its most famous visitor graced the town.

Mary Queen of Scots made the journey to Jedburgh in 1566, to hold a Circuit Court, where a 16th century bastel house was put at her disposal.

To commemorate the occasion a variety of activities for schools, visitors to Mary Queen of Scots Visitor Centre and the local community have been organised.

At the heart of the action is a creative learning project involving the town’s two primary schools, Howdenburn and Parkside, who have undertaken class-based research on the life of the Stuart monarch. 

Each school has been given book sets as a permanent legacy of the project which has been part funded by a generous contribution by the Jedburgh Rotary Association.  Classes from P4-7 have also visited the House and taken part in half day workshops led by museum staff and designed to meet the aims of the Curriculum for Excellence. The children learned about Mary and the House and also about life in general in the 16th century. 

Museums Galleries Scotland have supported the project financially and this has allowed two artists to work in the schools over the past four weeks.  Kerry Jones, artist and puppeteer, has been helping the P5 class at Parkside create artworks (they are portraying scenes from MQS’s life, in shoeboxes) while Anna Turnbull, a felt artist, is working with the P7 class at Howdenburn to help them create a felted timeline of Mary’s life.  The results of these projects and creative work by other classes in the schools will be displayed at the House from the October School holidays to the end of the visitor season (November 30).

On Sunday, October 16 there will be a commemorative ride-out when a group of costumed riders will leave Mary Queen of Scots House at 11.30 and head out to Fulton Castle before being piped back to the Houseby the town band at about 1.30pm.  The last ride-out organised in the community took place in 1987 to mark 400 years since Mary’s execution so this will be a welcome return of the spectacle.

Shona Sinclair, Live Borders Museum’s Curator, said: “We want to celebrate Mary Queen of Scot’s life and times and remind people of the important link that Jedburgh has to the life of Scotland’s fascinating queen as well as having a bit of fun.”

Jedburgh primaries will have a permanent learning resource in school through the reading sets which have been given.

In the House itself a new digital presentation has been installed on the ground, giving visitors who can’t get up the stairs to the displays a virtual tour of the building.  This includes a digital timeline using works in the museum collection which are kept in store and games to play such as Friend or Foe – where visitors get to decide which characters in Mary’s life were her friends and which were her enemies.  It is a great addition to the displays and a good resource for anyone wanting to find out about the House and the Queen.

Ewan Jackson, Live Borders Chief Executive added: “The core aim of the project is to have long-term and wide-spread impact with the creation of a permanent learning resource at the museum which will be advertised and available to all Borders primary schools in the coming years, hopefully encouraging more young visitors to the House.”