The Jacobite Risings come to Stirling Castle

Dan Harris from Brick to the Past explains how they re-created the Jacobite Risings in LEGO for a great new exhibition in the Queen’s Hall

In case you missed it, there’s a miniature battle raging in the Queen’s Outer Hall at Stirling Castle! Dan Harris from Brick to the Past tells us more…

LEGO Specialists

Here at Brick to the Past we specialise in creating meticulously researched historically themed LEGO® models. We’ve created loads of models, from Iron Age brochs to the streets of Victorian London and we’re always on the lookout for new and exciting projects to get our teeth into.

2017 is Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and we wanted to join in with the celebrations. We struck upon the Jacobite Risings as a  topic that represented a pivotal moment in not only Scottish history, but in British history too.

LEGO landscape showing mountains, castle and lego soldiers

The Devil’s in the Detail

Planning for a model like this takes a lot of preparation. We devour tons of literature from various sources, but best of all we go on lots of field trips. This year we’ve visited some great locations, including:

These trips are always invaluable because they provide the inspiration for all the little details we build into each model.

lego model of a white tower building with grey tiled roof

Detailed model of HES’s Corgarff Castle

Who Built Scotland?

This model was built by five people from all across the UK. Our most northerly builder lives in the Scottish Highlands, not far from some of the places we’ve recreated in LEGO. Our most southerly lives near Exeter, within sight of the English Channel. Managing this logistical web can be a challenge and we use technical drawings to make sure our vision is delivered and, more practically, the different sections fit together properly.

One of the things we really wanted to do was create a landscape inspired by the Highlands. That meant building high! Central to this is the mountain ridge that runs across the model’s centre. It’s made entirely out of LEGO pieces – there’s no cheating here! We’ve also made lots of trees based on species like Scots pine and silver birch and populated this landscape with some iconic highland animals, like red deer, golden eagle and capercaillie.

detail of a lego bird hiding in a lego shrubbery

A LEGO Capercaillie

The North Remembers

Corgarff Castle and Ruthven Barracks, both located in the Highlands, have also had the honour of being completely recreated in LEGO. We were able to use 18th century surveyor drawing to help design these, so we think we’ve got a pretty good approximation of how they might have looked in 1745.

Of course we also like to apply a bit of artistic licence, which is why they look a bit ‘distressed’. Balancing interest with historical accuracy is always an interesting challenge!

model of two grey buildings within a low wall, with lego grass in foreground

HES’s Ruthven Barracks in LEGO

The finished model:

  • is around 6m long
  • contains somewhere between 750,000 to 1,000,000 pieces
  • reaches a height of about 1 metre

The model also contains around 2,000 LEGO minifigures, most of which can be found in the sweeping battle scene we’ve laid out on one side of our mountain. Please spare a thought for the poor guy who spent nearly 4 hours putting them all in place!

As it turns out, the LEGO® Company don’t make Jacobite minifigures, so we had to design our own using parts from a wide variety of sets. One of the biggest challenges was getting enough kilts to dress our Highlanders. We used a mixture of third party customs as well as our own handicraft to get the job done.

three rows of lego soldiers in kilts, red jackets and black hats

Highland Life

Not all of our minifigures are soldiers though. A big part of the model is dedicated to telling stories from everyday 18th century life.

Our Highland township is therefore alive with traditional activity, such as waulking the cloth, peat cutting and a game of shinty.

three lego figures holding white shinty sticks as they play a game of shinty

We’ve exhibited in all sorts of interesting venues, but being able to present the model in Stirling Castle is truly amazing. To think what an important place this has been to Scottish history is really rather humbling.

You can see The Jacobite Risings: The Fight for Britain’s Throne at Stirling Castle until Friday 2 March 2018. Entry  is included in castle admission price.