Page last edited on: 08 Jan 2019

'Scottish Diaspora Tapestry' World Premiere in Veere


SCOTTISH DIASPORA TAPESTRY: Telling tales to Scotland.

Mr. Neil Wallace (left) with the silver conservator's badge, given on loan by Mr. John Dermot Turing (right). Mr. Turing is a descendant of the Aberdeenshire family Turing, who lived in Veere and were active as merchants.
This magnificent and inspiring tapestry has been embroidered from 2012 up to 2014 in 34 countries across the globe to which Scots emigrated to create their diaspora. This artwork is now touring outwith Scotland until 2017 and will eventually return to Prestonpans in East Lothian where it was designed and sponsored to provide both an enduring reminder of what millions of Scots achieved and a vital example of living history created for the young and old. The first complete exhibition of all 305 panels was opened on the 30th 2015 of May in Veere, in the presence of the British Ambassador to The Netherlands, Sir Geoffrey Adams, together with the Mayor of Veere Mr. Rob van der Zwaag and Veere’s honorary conservator Mr. Neil Wallace; see picture. This artwork will go on display until July 28th. This small Dutch town is unique in having a Conservator of Scottish Privileges in place to this day. There could be no more appropriate diaspora location. Veere has had in office since 1541 a Conservator of Scottish Privileges in The Netherlands although its commercial duties lapsed with the French Revolution in 1799. Click here for more information about the Veere panels. Scots have migrated all over the world and have often had a profound impact on the areas where they settled. This project will see 34 such communities documenting their Scottish connections on a series of embroidered panels. Their combined stories will pay homage to the incredible determination and courage of Scots over the centuries.


The Netherlands was a pivotal trade hub during the middle ages, and a profitable maritime commerce between Scotland and the Low Countries. In particular Scottish traders brought wool, hides, and coal. Such traffic not only generates money, but also an exchange of peoples. Dutch communities developed in Scotland (particularly on the east coast which faced onto the trade routes) whilst Scottish communities developed in the Netherlands. Veere, which gained the Scottish wool staple, became the most prominent of the latter, but there was also a considerable Scots presence in other places such as Rotterdam. Trade and commerce created a stable environment for the development of academic links, and there was a tradition of Scots students attending Dutch instituitions. Many Scots attended the university at Leiden, a centre of Law and Medicine, and Scots could even be found teaching there in the seventeenth century. Between 1572 and 1800, 1,460 Scottish students are known to have attended Leiden – a considerable number in the days before accessible travel. Post-reformation Scots had a particular empathy with the Calvinists of the Dutch Republic, and a Scots International Church was established in Rotterdam in 1643 and remains open today. Trade and education were not the only factors, which drew Scots to the Netherlands. As in many parts of the Diaspora, war played its part as well. For example, large numbers of Scots fought in the wars, which saw the Netherlands gain independence from Spain, and after the wars three regiments stayed on as the Scots Brigade. They continued to serve in the Netherlands, wearing British-style uniforms and recruiting in Scotland, until war broke out between Britain and the Dutch Republic over the latter’s support for American Revolutionaries. When ordered to incorporate fully into the Dutch Army, the Brigade instead returned to Scotland as the 94th Regiment.

Dr. Gordon Prestoungrange, chairman Scottish Diaspora Team presents the book of the tapestry to Mr. Neil Wallace, Honorary Conservator of the Scottish Privileges in the Low Countries, during the opening ceremony on Saturday, the 30th of May.
Peter Blom, left, chairman of the Scotland-Veere Organization, guides Mr. John Dermot Turing (center), loan giver of precious family heirloom and Mr. Neil Wallace (right), Honorary Conservator of the Scottish Privileges in the Low Countries, through the newly arranged Scotland-Veere exhibition in the attic of the museum.