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Exhibition National Museum of Scotland

Inspiring Walter Scott

6 Aug 2021 - 8 Jan 2023
10:00 - 16:30

Exhibition Gallery 4, Level 1

Free entry
A painted portrait of Sir Walter Scott standing on a hill next to two terriers with hills in the distance.

On the 250th anniversary of Sir Walter Scott's birth, experience his novels through objects that inspired him.

In this small exhibition we show how Scott drew upon real historical objects for inspiration, placing objects alongside Scott's words, and the stories in which they feature. While you view these fascinating objects, you can listen to an actor reading extracts from these tales. 

The juxtaposition of real objects and Scott’s words will help us understand how these amazing material things were so intrinsic to Scott’s writing process.

Pair of gilt brass rowel spurs. The spur is designed like a star or a sharp snowflake shape.

The Borders Ballads

This pair of gilt brass rowel spurs worn by Auld Wat Scott of Harden appear in Scott's poem The Reiver's Wedding.

Listen to excerpts from The Reiver's Wedding and Kinmont Willie. 

Knight and Crusades

A closed helmet of a kind worn by knights from the later medieval and Early Modern periods (Steel, Italian, 16th century).

Listen to excerpts from The TalismanThe Betrothed and Ivanhoe

Sturdy steel helm with cage-like bars over the face, rivets around the neck and a small fin at the top.

Ornate golden crucifix with blue and red flourishes at the tips. Three pearls hang from it, and Christ on the cross is in the centre.

Religion and Reformation

A crucifix reliquary depicting Christ on the cross and as a child with his mother, Mary, enamelled with pendant baroque pearls.

Listen to excerpts from The Monastery and The Abbot.

Covenanting and Rebellion

Jacobite glasses of the type used to toast the exiled Stuart kings ‘Across the Water’, as featured in The Bride of Lammermoor

Listen to excerpts from Old Mortality and The Bride of Lammermoor.

Three decorated wine glasses. The glasses on the left and right have royal crests. The middle glass features a painted portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Wooden box opened with the side facing forward wide open. Guns overlap each other within.

Crime and Punishment

Sporran clasp with four concealed pistols, a model for that worn by Rob Roy MacGregor and described in Rob Roy.

Listen to excerpts from Rob Roy and The Heart of Midlothian.

Walter Scott 250

Share your exhibition thoughts and highlights on social media using #WalterScott250 

In association with Walter Scott 250: Celebrating 250 Years of Scotland’s Greatest Storyteller.



National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street

Map and directions

We want everyone who comes to our museums to enjoy their time with us and make the most of their visit. 

  • There is level access to the Museum via the main doors to the Entrance Hall on Chambers Street and the Tower entrance at the corner of Chambers Street and George IV Bridge. 
  • Lifts are available to all floors and accessible toilets are available on most floors, as well as a Changing Places (U) toilet in the Entrance Hall on Level 0.
  • There is an induction loop in the Auditorium.
  • Guide dogs, hearing dogs and other recognised assistance dogs are admitted.

Find out more about our access information.

Header image: Sir Walter Scott with his two Dandie Dinmonts, full length on a hilltop above the valley of the Tweed and the Eldon Hills, by Sir William Allan. ‘Sir Walter Scott, 1771 - 1832. Novelist and poet’, c. 1844, PG 1366 © National Galleries of Scotland. Given by the Art Fund (London Scot Bequest) 1938


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