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Mary, Queen of Scots - National Museum of Scotland

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This month's guest post is by Bruce Blacklaw. He talks about the Mary, Queen of Scots exhibition, now showing at the National Museum of Scotland.

Showing only at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, Mary, Queen of Scots brings together the largest ever exhibition of portraits, documents, jewellery, textiles, furniture and other objects connected to arguably the most famous Scotswoman in history.

Mary Queen of Scots - Blairs Memorial Portrait

Mary’s years in France and her reign and life in Scotland are explored, as are the fateful events which led to her downfall. The murder of Mary’s second husband, Lord Darnley, took place at the Kirk o’Field lodgings, a matter of yards from the gallery in which the exhibition is staged.

Although the truth of the matter was never established, Mary was deemed guilty of plotting the murder and, after a controversial third marriage to the Earl of Bothwell, imprisonment, escape and civil war, she was forced into abdication and fled to England.

Mary was imprisoned for the next 19 years of her life until, eventually, she was implicated in another plot, this time to kill Queen Elizabeth. This sealed her fate and led to her execution at Fotheringay Castle in 1587.

The story is told through over 200 remarkable objects, from Mary’s earliest letter, written to her mother Mary of Guise, to the warrant for her execution, signed by Elizabeth. The exhibition features portraits including the famous Blairs Memorial Portrait and Mary in White Mourning by Francois Clouet from the Royal Collection, as well as the Kirk o’Field sketch, drawn by an English spy in 1567, and the Marian Hanging, a tapestry that Mary worked on while in captivity.

Mary, Queen of Scots is at the National Museum of Scotland until 17 November. The exhibition is supported by investment managers Baillie Gifford, and there is an accompany programme of events. For further information, visit


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