A MACE symbolising the rich diversity of the region’s land, sea and air will take centre stage at a ceremony today to mark the creation of the new University of the Highlands and Islands.
To be used for years to come at graduation events across the region, the commissioned work-of-art will be presented to mace bearer Allan Bransbury during a historic robing of the university’s first principal and vice-chancellor, James Fraser, at Eden Court Theatre.
The mace, made at Edinburgh silversmiths' Hamilton and Inches, will then take pride of place at the front of an academic procession to the Town House where civic leaders will hold a reception in honour of Scotland’s newest university.
More than 600 people have already accepted invitations, or reserved seats, for the ceremony which starts at 4.30pm.
They include MP and MSPs; students, staff and governors of the 13 university partners across the region; representatives from local authorities and government agencies; honorary fellows and academics.
A procession led by the Royal British Legion’s Inverness pipes and drums will leave Eden Court at 6.35pm heading for the Town House and an RAF flypast is expected at Ness Bridge just after 6.45pm.
The mace will then be pressed into action tomorrow at the first graduation ceremony of the new university at Lews Castle College UHI, on Lewis.
Gifted by the universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Strathclyde, the mace has been designed by Edinburgh College of Art’s jewellery and silversmithing department.
It is made from silver and wood, with indigenous Scottish light ash for the shaft, and some gold and mixed metals in the detail.
The ornamentation symbolises sand or beaches, water and air, while the lower mount is adorned with three 18ct gold wires depicting mountains.
A concave plate is mounted at the very bottom of the mace, reflecting the theme of water and waves.
The honour of being mace bearer for the day has been bestowed on Mr Bransbury who was assistant director of the former University of the Highlands and Islands Project.
He will carry the mace at the front of the procession.
See tomorrow's Inverness Courier for more.