Designer wins jewellery challenge with homage to Scotland’s Neolithic past

A student designer who drew inspiration from Scotland’s ancient history to create a range of contemporary jewellery is about to go global.

Maeshowe jewellery range

Maeshowe jewellery range

Norna Sinclair is set to have her winning competition designs brought to life after wowing judges with her range of contemporary jewellery, inspired by one of the country’s most important Neolithic sites.

Historic Environment Scotland partnered with Orkney-based jewellery manufacturer, Ortak, to challenge students across the country to design a range of jewellery inspired by Maeshowe Chambered Cairn.

Entrants were asked to draw on the different features of the 5,000 year old Orkney site, and its past, to help inspire their designs for the chance to have their creations manufactured and made available to purchase in gift shops and online.

Local Orcadian and Fine Art Textiles student, Norna was named by judges as the overall winner.

Norna Sinclair

Norna Sinclair

Representing the heritage and historical landscape of the site, her designed range, which includes a necklace, bracelet, ring and earrings, uses the circular bird’s eye view and archaeological field survey drawings of Maeshowe for its main inspiration.

Norna drew on other aspects and features from the local surrounding landscape through the use of coloured enamels and was inspired by the Barnhouse Stone, incorporating this into her earring design as well as necklace and bracelet fastenings.

“The standard of design entries was incredibly high and it was fantastic to get a real insight into the emerging design talent within Scotland,” said Kari Coghill, Head of Business Development and Enterprise at Historic Environment Scotland and a member of the competition judging panel.

“While judging wasn’t an easy task, we were particularly impressed with Norna’s innovative approach and it was great to see how she used an archaeological field survey drawing of Maeshowe to spark her creative process.”

Judging panel Ortak's Michael Gardens, Kari Coghill of HES and Chris Hunt of Scotland Re:Designed

Judging panel Ortak’s Michael Gardens, Kari Coghill of HES and Chris Hunt of Scotland Re:Designed

The pieces form a unique collection that represents Maeshowe and Scotland’s historic environment in a contemporary and simplistic style currently being manufactured by Ortak. The jewellery will sit alongside other collections and be available to buy in gift shops at Skara Brae and Edinburgh Castle, as well as online from early December.

“Winning this design competition is a fantastic accolade and a very exciting time for me,” said Norna, 44.

“Being an art student, you often have ideas that never reach fruition so it’s a real privilege to see my design taken from sketches on paper through to final pieces of jewellery and manufactured by Ortak. It has been a wonderful experience and I’m looking forward seeing it go on sale.”