Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Shetland Grant for the Jawbones

The appeal to restore the Jawbone Arch has received a boost with a grant from the Shetland Amenity Trust.

Jan 29, 2015

The grant of £4,000 will go towards the conservation of the historic jawbones and their re-installation in the Meadows. The extra funding means that only another £4,500 is required to reach the fundraising target.

The Shetland Amenity Trust was set up in 1983, to preserve enhance and promote the Shetland’s culture and heritage. The Jawbone Arch is an important link with the island’s past, being brought to Edinburgh as part of the stand for the Shetland & Fair Isle knitters at the 1886 International Exhibition held on the Meadows. Right: The Fair Isle & Shetland Knitters stand at the International Exhibition, courtesy of Shetland Museum.

The stand was the inspiration of George Hunter Thoms, the Sheriff of Caithness, Orkney and Shetland, who saw it as an opportunity to promote the knitting industry and encourage more modern working practices. Many knitters were still paid under the old system of ‘truck’ or tokens which could only be redeemed in certain shops.

The whale bones formed an arch over the knitting display, and were draped with lace curtains and herring nets, with the flags of Great Britain, Denmark and Norway. Also on display was a shawl made by Betty Mouat, a Shetland knitter who had suddenly become a nationwide celebrity. She survived nine days adrift alone in a small boat on the North Sea, after a freak accident separated her from the crew. The shawl was viewed by the Royal Family on their visits to the exhibition, and Queen Victoria even returned to the stand to buy several.

The connection with Shetland remains important today, and in December 2013 the Lerwick Jarl Squad visited the Jawbone Arch to help launch the fundraising campaign. Left: The Jarl Squad pictured underneath the Jawbone Arch, courtesy of Heidi Pearson.

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