A piece of the Book of Deer Banner showing two figures

From Book to Banner

From Book to Banner

From Book to Banner

From Book to Banner

From Book to Banner
From Book to Banner

New music for The Book of Deer

Listen to three evocative compositions written by Gordon M Hay with the Longside Ceilidh Band.

Music for the Book of Deer

From Book to BannerĀ 

From Book to Banner is an exhibition of six beautiful textile banners inspired by the Book of Deer, an exquisite 10th century gospel pocket book with links to Deer Abbey in Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire. This illuminated manuscript is written in Latin, however the page margins contain the earliest written example of Scots Gaelic. This makes the book not only an astonishing piece of local heritage, but one with national significance. In the summer of 2022, it returned to North East Scotland after more than a thousand years. The making of From Book to Banner was a key feature in Live Life Aberdeenshire's extensive activity programme across the North East - our commitment to celebrating Place, people and culture.

From Book to Banner can be seen at Aberdeenshire Farming Museum from April to October this year. Opening times are Thursday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm (last entry at 3.30pm). Free entry.

Three of the banners on display
Three of the banners on display

The banners were designed by artist Rachael Forbes. Her beautiful work draws from illustrations, doodles and border patterns in the book, alongside local flora and fauna of the time.

To begin the making process, Rachel dyed linen and wool with natural pigments used in writing, drawing and on fabric in medieval times. She chose woad, iron, madder, elderberry, alder buckthorn and oak gall ink. The pattern pieces were then cut, and packs sent to fifty volunteer stitchers at home and Library-based teams in Banff, Banchory, Inverurie, Mintlaw and Peterhead. The volunteers were encouraged to make personal choices when embellishing the fabric, using a variety of stitched techniques, guided by a series of videos.

The volunteers' group meetings proved a great opportunity to revive old skills, learn new ones and socialise with like-minded people in friendly local venues. The banners took five months to construct and measure 120cm x 90cm.

Lorna Reid, LLA staff and volunteer stitcher, made a blog post about her experience:

Read Lorna's blog

Some details of the beautiful banners - a feast for the eyes!

embroidered brid
embroidered place names
Embroidered St Drostan and St Columba
embroidered flower
embroidered text
embroidered beasts

From Book to Banner was part of the Book of Deer Programme 2022, developed in partnership with the Book of Deer Project, Aberdeen City Council / Aberdeen Art Gallery, the University of Cambridge, the University of Aberdeen and Cameron Archaeology Ltd, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

A huge thank you to all those involved.

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