Please help us fund this exciting project which will bring together the community of Linlithgow in celebrating the rich historical and cultural heritage of our ancient Royal Burgh!
Working with the Linlithgow Town Centre BID and the Linlithgow & Linlithgow Town Management Group, Linlithgow Burgh Trust's Public Art Committee is promoting the installation of two bronze sculptures based on Linlithgow's two traditional civic insignia of the female black hunting dog (better known otherwise in the local area) and 'St Michael and the Dragon', as depicted on the town's ancient burgh seal and coats of arms, including those shown on the old town entrance signs (right).
The Sculptures and the Artists Involved
Following two public consultation exercises earlier in the year, other positive feedback and the receipt of planning permission, we are about to commission, in two phases, the two pieces of sculpture which will be erected on different prominent sites in Linlithgow, mounted on stone plinths. The intention is to involve two of Scotland’s best known and respected artists – David Annand has been selected to make the dog sculpture, and Alan Herriot will create his vision of St Michael and the Dragon. Both of the current interpretations are likely to change further as the design process evolves, taking into account the results of the two recent public consultation exercises. The main changes already made have been to show the dog chained up more in accordance with the ancient seal and coat of arms (left) and further work will refine the depiction of St Michael to appear in a slightly less aggressive pose than originally intended, but not such as to unduly alter the traditional symbolism. This will be based on the 'softening' of the original drawing below left, influenced to some extent by features which appear in the other draft on the right.
Although local historians agree that the female greyhound most likely represents a hunting dog temporarily tied to a tree trunk to conserve its energies, legends abound about its origins, most popularly that it depicts a faithful hound which fed its master who was chained to a tree on an island in Linlithgow Loch (and which, when discovered, led to the dog being similarly chained up). St Michael, the patron saint of Linlithgow, derives from the Bible in which, as the archangel or 'chief angel', his slaying of the dragon (or serpent) symbolises the conquest of good over all things sinful and evil. More specifically, as the town's 'guardian angel', he represents a force for good, being ‘kinde to straingers’ and the town’s inhabitants by keeping them safe from evil, harm or danger. Both the dog and St Michael appeared on Linlithgow's burgh seals as long ago as 1296 and 1357. In those days, it was customary for burghs to have a double-sided seal, one side normally carrying a secular object and the other a religious object, usually referring to the town’s patron saint - and this was the case in Linlithgow until the town's official Royal Burgh status was abolished in 1975.
Locations and Context
At the top of the Serpentine Bed, opposite St Peter’s Episcopal Church in the High Street, it is envisaged that the dog sculpture will form the centrepiece of a new seating area with three bench seats, two litter bins and an interpretation board explaining the historical background and providing information about the sculptor concerned. Taking account of opinions expressed during the second public consultation and the views of the major funders of the project, we are actively considering whether to continue with the location of the St Michael sculpture at Low Port, or whether to pursue an alternative historical site such as The Peel or Learmonth Gardens.
Involvement of Young People in the Project
As part of the public engagement process, we asked pupils from all five mainstream primary schools in Linlithgow to undertake some of their own research and produce drawings and paintings to show their own ideas of how they would like the female hunting dog and 'St Michael and the Serpent/Dragon' to appear in sculptural form. These were exhibited at the Low Port Centre at the consultation event on Wednesday 29 May and prizes were awarded to those whose drawings and stories most impressed the judges. Some of the children’s work will also be featured on the proposed interpretation boards near the sculptures and, to a greater extent, in a new booklet on the overall project which will be published for general public distribution.
Left: The coat of arms most often used by Linlithgow Town Council.
Middle: The St Michael insignia and motto depicted as they might have been shown on a sacred flag.
Right: The new coat of arms of Linlithgow & Linlithgow Bridge Community Council (used with permission).
Why Your Help is Needed
Although much of the funding for the sculpture project will come from money set aside by the Linlithgow Town Centre BID and the Linlithgow & Linlithgow Town Management Group, we are busy trying to obtain grant aid from a variety of external sources. This is not proving to be particularly easy and, for the project to go ahead, we really do need donations from interested local organisations and public-spirited individuals, families and businesses.
Changes made to the proposals in response to the public consultation process have added about £10,000 to the overall cost of the project which we hope to meet and surpass through this Crowdfunder campaign.
We also hope that donations, whether small or large, will help to foster a sense of ownership amongst the local community – anything you can contribute would be hugely appreciated and is essential to the project.
How You Can Contribute
Please donate online by means of this Crowdfunder appeal (Gift Aid available if appropriate). Anyone without online access should contact us direct.
Thank you very much for reading this and for any donation!
Linlithgow Burgh Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation – Scottish Charity Number SC047211