Donations needed to save a Scottish relic from 1716

The Scottish public is being urged to play its part to raise at least £3000 to save and restore an 18th century relic.

On Saturday, 18 August, Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries will reveal the unique and ancient carrying banner that marked the foundation of Dunfermline’s Ancient Society of Gardeners in 1716.

The large banner was carried in street processions raised up on long poles.

It is made of silk with painted images in oil paint and gilding. The painting shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – a standard emblem for these kinds of gardening societies.

Lesley Botten, interpretation team leader with Fife Cultural Trust, said: ‘We had wanted to include the banner in the Blooming Marvellous exhibition which opened on 19 May at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

‘But centuries of wear and tear have left the banner in too delicate a condition to include in this exhibition. We need to fund 250 hours of expert conservation work to stabilise and clean the banner to make it safe to store and display.

‘To help raise awareness, we’re inviting the public along to meet Fiona Watt, weaver and textile conservator who will talk about the work needed to make the banner safe to handle and ultimately to be put on display. She’ll also be able to give advice on how to look after those most precious of outfits – wedding dresses!

‘The target for the banner appeal is at least £3,000 from public appeal. We need £10,000 in total. If the target is reached we plan to put this banner on display with others from the museum collections. If the target is not reached we guarantee to put any money raised towards other conservation projects.’

The drop in event is free but visitors to invited to make a cash donation towards the preservation of the banner. There are two sessions, from 10.30am-12.45pm and 1.30-3.15pm, with no need to book.

Set up to help improve the standard of gardening in and around town, Dunfermline’s Ancient Society of Gardeners was also very popular with local bigwigs and this gave the Society a certain kudos which attracted lawyers, soldiers, church ministers and doctors to join.

The Society bought land on the edge of Dunfermline the income from which made it wealthy and enabled it to provide sickness, funeral and widows’ benefits. It also ran a programme of gardening exhibitions and prizes for excellence which developed into the Dunfermline Horticultural Society which carried on into the 1980s.