Chasing the Jacobite Dream

Published: 24 May 2023

A new exhibition opening at the Hunterian Museum this June reveals The Hunterian’s fascinating collection of Jacobite medals.

A new exhibition opening at the University of Glasgow’s Hunterian Museum this June reveals The Hunterian’s fascinating collection of Jacobite medals.

Chasing the Jacobite Dream highlights the extensive collection of historical medals associated with Charles Edward Stuart, the 1745 Rising and Battle of Culloden.

Jacobites were those who believed James II and VII (r.1685–1688) and his exiled Stuart heirs to be the rightful claimants to the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. The men and women who rallied to the cause did so for many reasons, often transcending nationalities, politics, religion and social standing.

The story of the Jacobites continues to capture imaginations around the world but their legacy is often shrouded by myth and legend. Chasing the Jacobite Dream explores how medals played a key role in the foundation of this afterlife as powerful objects in a long propaganda war.

Able to be produced quickly to respond to events, struck in their thousands, easily transportable and transferable, medals were covert, hand-held weapons of subversion and propaganda. The British crown used issues to assert royal authority and humiliate their enemies. For Jacobites, medals were emotive symbols of loyalty and dynamic reminders to the faithful to chase the dream of a Stuart restoration.

Highlights include a rare badge depicting Bonnie Prince Charlie worn by a soldier during the ’45, a scarce medal struck in Edinburgh during the city’s occupation by Jacobite forces in September and October 1745, and a discreet medal designed to be worn as jewellery by supporters of the prince.

Alongside the historical medals, HND 2 jewellery students from City of Glasgow College have taken inspiration from The Hunterian’s Jacobite collections to create new modern art medals for the display, exploring themes such as identity, symbolism and conflict.

Visitors will also be able to see related prints depicting Bonnie Prince Charlie, a snuff box reputed to have been given by Prince Charles to one of his officers, and a sheet of banknotes printed from a salvaged printing plate which provides a glimpse of a Jacobite currency that never came to pass.

Chasing the Jacobite Dream coincides with Outlander Conference Glasgow 2023 (18–22 July 2023). 

For further information contact:

Jesper Ericsson, Curator of Numismatics, The Hunterian

For images contact:

Harriet Gaston, Communications Manager, The Hunterian

Notes to Editors

The Hunterian

The oldest public museum in Scotland, with collections spanning arts, sciences and humanities, The Hunterian is at the forefront of university museums around the world. Since it opened at the University of Glasgow in 1807, The Hunterian has been an invaluable academic and community resource and in years to come, The Hunterian is committed to becoming a more meaningful place for more diverse audiences.

As a university gallery and museum, The Hunterian creates space for intellectual inquiry and a process of learning and experimentation. The Hunterian collection’s Enlightenment history made a repository of knowledge that materialises the problematic history of Western modernity and its fundamentally colonial and capitalist underpinnings. The founding collection came through the bequest of Dr William Hunter (1718-1783) and since The Hunterian opened at the University of Glasgow in 1807, the collections have been developed in ways that reflect our city’s deep relationship with empire, transatlantic slavery, colonialism and migration. 

The Hunterian cares for some Scotland’s finest collections that cover subjects as diverse as the history of medicine, zoology and art. The whole collection is ‘Recognised’ as nationally significant in Scotland and includes outstanding Roman artefacts from the Antonine Wall; vast natural and life science collections; scientific instruments used by James Watt, Joseph Lister and Lord Kelvin; one of the world’s greatest collections of coins and medals and objects and belongings brought to Glasgow from around the world during hundreds of years of trade, empire, exploitation and migration. 

The Hunterian is also home to one of the most distinguished public art collections in Scotland and features works by James McNeill Whistler, the Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists, the largest single holding of the work of artists Margaret MacDonald and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, along with The Mackintosh House, the reassembled interiors from their Glasgow home. The Hunterian has also developed an important collection of works by leading contemporary artists including Christine Borland, Lucy Skaer and Adam Pendleton.

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First published: 24 May 2023