Scottish Parliament Motion: 19 September 2012

That the Parliament recognises the historic significance of The Great Polish Map of Scotland in the village of Eddleston in the Scottish Borders, designed and built as a labour of love by a group of young Polish geographers from the Jagellionian University of Krakow in 1975 at the request of General Maczek, former Polish wartime Commander of the 1st Armoured Division, and the war veteran, Jan Tomasik; notes that this commemorates the vital role of Polish forces in the defence of Scotland in the Second World War and is a token of thanks to the people of Scotland for the hospitality and friendship given to the Polish people not only during the war years but also in the decades that followed; considers that this 50 x 40 metre, three-dimensional outdoor 1:10,000 scale model of Scotland, complete with mountains, landscape, flowing rivers, estuaries, coasts and seas located is a remarkable example of topographic landscape modelling of a complete country, with a design and layout involving pioneering survey and construction techniques with dynamic representation of major river basins using a gravity-driven water supply; further congratulates Mapa Scotland, a voluntary group established to protect and restore this unique three dimensional representation, reminding Scots of the historical heritage linking Poland with Scotland, and considers that this project deserves support.

Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale) (SNP): Szanowna Pani Przewodniczaca, z wielka przyjemnoscia przemawiam na temat Wielkiej Mapy Szkocji.
Presiding Officer, it is a great pleasure to speak on the subject of the great Polish map of Scotland.

It is also a great pleasure that the debate is being simultaneously translated into Polish—a first for a language other than Scots or Gaelic. I said those few faltering words in Polish with thanks to our many Polish colleagues in Parliament—I thank Maria, Waldi, David and Monika—for pronunciation lessons. I apologise for unintended errors, despite their best endeavours.

I welcome the people in the public gallery, including the Polish consul, and I remind all that there is a reception afterwards in TG.20 with the Polish consul, Mapa Scotland and representatives from the Barony hotel.

I thank all the members who signed the motion but, most of all, I thank Mapa Scotland—which is now a charity—which comprises a band of enthusiastic volunteers who have secured funding of £20,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and listed status for the map from Historic Scotland. Added to that is an agreement from the new owners of the Barony hotel in Eddleston in my constituency, where the map is located, on match funding of £20,000 together with an access route to the map. When we think that some £60,000 will secure materials, with free labour from volunteers, Mapa has come a long way.
But—to the beginning. Constructed in 1975, the great Polish map of Scotland is reputedly a globally unique example of topographic landscape modelling of a complete country. It is a very large—50m by 40m—three-dimensional outdoor scale model of the Scottish landscape, with mountains, rivers, estuaries, coasts and seas. It is located in a walled oval excavation that is 1.5m deep. I know that it is large because, before health and safety officials stepped in, I jumped down and stood on the Scottish Borders. Well, I would, wouldn’t I?

The map’s design and layout involved pioneering survey and construction techniques and it incorporates a unique dynamic representation of major river basins that uses a gravity-driven water supply. The map may commemorate a defence strategy map that was used in the 1940s when Barony castle housed a Polish military staff training college.
It was designed by young Polish geographers from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow in 1975, at the request of war veteran Jan Tomasik, who owned the hotel at the time and who financed the project, provided the ground, procured materials and recruited local labour for its construction. One of the labourers was Kazimierz Trafas and the current Polish consul general is Dr Tomasz Trafas. Yes—he is a close relative.

The map is a reminder of the vital role of Polish forces in the defence of Scotland in the second world war, and of the hospitality and friendship that was given to the Poles by the Scots, not only during the war years but in the decades that followed and up to the present day.

Many Poles were unable to return to their homes because of political persecution and border changes in Europe, so they remained in Scotland. One such person was the great General Stanislaw Maczek, who settled in Edinburgh after the war and became a close family friend of the Tomasiks and a regular guest at Barony castle. Maczek was known as the most accomplished Polish tank commander of world war 2. After the fall of France, he and many of his men made their way to London and formed the nucleus of a Polish armed force that was based in Scotland and which defended our shoreline between Montrose and Dundee. Maczek had long years of exile and was deprived of his Polish citizenship by the post-war Stalinist regime. His life and Scottish connection are worth commemorating. He lived to be 102 and died in Edinburgh.

The focus of work on the great map is the full restoration of the structure to its original appearance, including, eventually, surrounding sea, flowing rivers and lochs. The historic themes are the second world war on the British home front and the relationship that developed between Polish citizens and communities in Tweeddale and Midlothian.
The map was neglected and almost forgotten, as were the ties from wartime to today. It is time to change that. As is the Italian chapel on Orkney, the map is a symbol of our past—in this instance, it is the shared history of Poland and Scotland. It deserves our attention and deserves to be restored.

There are at least 60,000 Polish people in Scotland. The map represents our Polish and Scottish ties.

W Szkocji mieszka przynajmniej 60,000 Polaków. Ta mapa reprezentuje polskie i szkockie wiezy.

Now, wi ma heid birlin with my Polish endeavours, I look forward to the rest of the speeches—and, indeed, to the Polish translation of “wi ma heid birlin”.

Graeme Pearson (South Scotland) (Lab): I am delighted to speak in the debate and I thank Christine Grahame for securing it. I apologise to the people who have attended Parliament today, because I will not be able to attend the reception after the debate, as I have to chair the cross-party group on China. Such are the challenges of being a member of the Scottish Parliament.

The great Polish map of Scotland and its restoration deserve more attention. The project will surely benefit from the debate, as the volunteers seek to bring the attention of local people, as well as people further afield, to that remarkable model. I declare an interest, in that in a previous life it was a pleasure for me to meet Jan Tomasik, when he was in business in Glasgow. I found him to be an honourable man, who was committed to his home in Scotland while always being mindful of his Polish origins. It is no surprise to me to hear that he was whole-heartedly committed to the project.

We recognise the efforts of Dr Trafas, the Polish consul general, and the incredible efforts of the young Polish geographers from the university in Krakow who contributed so much to the design and build of the map in 1975.

The map serves to commemorate not only the crucial role of Polish forces in helping to defend Scotland during the second world war, but the warmth and hospitality with which Polish troops were greeted and with which a new generation has been greeted. It also reflects the warmth that Poles have brought to Scotland and the friendships that have been built here.

I have been pleased to meet Graham Russell and Keith Burns of Mapa Scotland, and I went to see the map on several occasions in June and July, during the terrible rains. I could see the effect of the dampness on the map then.

Mapa Scotland’s work is to be commended. The restoration of the great map is a significant project. The map is huge by any description—it is 50m by 40m—and it is a three-dimensional scale model of Scotland that includes its mountains, rivers, estuaries, coasts and seas. It has a gravity-driven water supply, and there is plenty of water supplying it.
The project is large and daunting, but the map has fantastic potential. When it is restored, it could play a significant role in increasing tourism to the area. It could be used in an educational context to honour the historic links to which my friend Christine Grahame alluded. The project is therefore worth backing.

I am very glad, as other members clearly are, that Historic Scotland has awarded the map B-listed status for its contribution to Scotland’s built heritage. That will help the restoration project as it moves forward, and I know that the volunteers who are involved in Mapa Scotland are delighted with the decision. The decision will also help to protect the map from any change of ownership at the Barony hotel in the future. That is a real concern, given that the hotel was recently on the market. The fact that it has now been sold and, under the auspices of an Edinburgh-based group, will be branded with Mercure signage by the end of next month is some comfort to all in South Scotland. I trust that the new owners will co-operate with the Polish community, Mapa Scotland and others to deliver a future for the map and the memories of all those involved.

Jean Urquhart (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): I congratulate Christine Grahame on securing the debate, which is timely, as it was announced on Monday that the great Polish map has been awarded listed status. The map is undoubtedly worthy of protection, and I am delighted that future generations will be able to admire the attention to detail in that unique structure, which looks extraordinary. The use of gravity-driven water to recreate our rivers and lochs is truly magnificent.

I am sure that all members who will speak in the debate will concur on the map’s historic importance, not only as a feat of architecture and a reminder of the sacrifices that Polish soldiers made during world war two, but as a symbol of the long-standing links between Poland and Scotland that were forged in that era and which have remained strong ever since. I want to concentrate on that connection, which has continued to the present day.

A number of years ago, Ross and Cromarty District Council twinned with the region that is known as the “Polish Highlands”. Sometimes people wonder whether civic twinning has any real purpose, but that twinning did have real purpose for our education—we learned a number of things. We learned about the thousands of Scots who went to Poland and settled there in the previous two centuries, and about a pipe band from there, which marched all over Ross and Cromarty on several occasions. Its bagpipes were fantastic and they looked quite unlike ours. They had no tartan, but they were made of sheepskin. That stayed in my mind. The band played as beautifully as ours do.

All of Scotland has benefited from the special relationship with Poland—I think particularly of the Polish food shops that can now be found in any city in Scotland and our supermarkets’ dedication to providing Polish produce. The Highlands and Islands in particular have attracted a large number of Poles. As late as 2004, the Highlands and Islands were threatened with yet further depopulation, but the situation has changed dramatically. Inverness is still one of Europe’s fastest-growing cities. That growth is concurrent with economic regeneration and is attributable in part to Inverness’s active and dynamic Polish community, which now forms roughly 10 per cent of its population. Across the Highlands and Islands, approximately 69 per cent of all immigrants come from Poland, which shows the strong ties that exist between our two nations.

The mutual benefit of those ties is evident. They contribute hugely to civic life in Inverness and the surrounding region. I was privileged to have the chance to recognise that when I was able to invite Zosia Wierzbowicz-Fraser, the chair of the Inverness Polish Association, to be my local hero at the opening of Parliament last summer. Among other activities, Zosia has organised translation services and accommodation, and the Inverness Polish Association has acted as a welcoming group that helps Poles to settle and to feel welcome in the city.

In contributing so much to society, Zosia is typical of the Polish community in Scotland. I am sure that all of us in this chamber recognise the value to future generations of growing up in towns, cities and villages in which many cultures are known and celebrated, and in which an awareness of our place in the world and that of others helps to inculcate a sense of internationalism and global citizenry. I am sure that that will be all the more beneficial when Scotland regains its place in the community of nations.

Once again, I welcome the continuing restoration of the map.

Chic Brodie (South Scotland) (SNP): I congratulate Christine Grahame on securing this debate and Mapa Scotland on its campaign for the restoration of the map.
The story of the great Polish map of Scotland in Eddleston embodies much more than the important structure itself. It is a story with meaning and it is a story of history, romance and friendship. Some of that remarkable history has already been recounted. As has already been referred to, the map is claimed to be the largest outdoor relief map in the world, and I believe that it is the totem for a drama-documentary or even a film. The map was the vision of General Maczek—a true Polish military hero—and his friend, Jan Tomasik, which was realised in this 2,000m2, three-dimensional model of our nation.

The history of the map encompasses a friendship that involves the fall of France and the 10th armoured cavalry brigade of Polish forces being stationed at Barony castle. Those Polish forces were befriended by the Scottish people and were entrusted by the War Office to plan a defence of Scotland’s east coast during world war two. That defence was based on a map of the Scottish landscape that they developed.

At that point, history turns to romance. Under the command of the hero, General Maczek, the courageous Polish soldiers, including Maczek and Tomasik, played a significant part in the Normandy landings and the liberation of Europe. However, that was only the start of the romance. Due to the post-war political situation in Poland and the fact that he was a great leader and hero of the people, Maczek found himself—along with many brave Polish soldiers—in exile in Scotland.

Jan Tomasik, who had been billeted at Barony castle, eventually bought the hotel in 1968—I believe that there is no such thing as coincidence. He then found his friend and wartime commander, the non-pensioned Maczek, working as a barman in Edinburgh. À la Eisenhower and Culzean castle, he took Maczek home and installed him in a suite in Barony castle, and there the two planned a way of ensuring that their wartime strategy map could be remembered in a more permanent form, which resulted in the great Polish map of Scotland that we have today and which we wish to be fully restored in all its glory—not just as a tourist attraction, but as a testament to the relationship between the Scots and Polish peoples.

Four minutes can never do justice to the history—real or romantic—of the mapa. What the mapa does is confirm the friendship and the strong bond between two soldiers—two men—and between our two countries.

The Polish consul general, Tomasz Trafas, is a brother of the person who designed the mapa—as I said, there is no such thing as coincidence. In a recent interview, he said that the map is

“a rare symbol of the broader heritage and a symbol of the cultural links between Poland and Scotland”.

We could not have put it better.

Dla przyjazni. Dziekuje.

Annabel Goldie (West Scotland) (Con): I, too, thank Christine Grahame for securing the debate. The great Polish map of Scotland that was conceived by General Maczek and Jan Tomasik is a remarkable and enduring tribute to the warm relationship between exiled Polish forces and the people of Scotland that was prominent during the second world war. It is also a tribute to the skills of the young geographers from the Jagiellonian University of Kraków who, in 1975, created the map on the site of the former wartime tactical map that their Polish predecessors had designed on the putting green of the hotel.

It would be regrettable if this unusual tribute and memorial were to risk sustained deterioration. It is encouraging that, in 2010, the Mapa Scotland group was formed to restore the map fully to its original condition and to promote it as a heritage monument, educational resource and visitor attraction. The £20,000 grant from the UK Heritage Lottery Fund is a welcome boost, as is the co-operation of the hotel owners, to which Christine Grahame referred. I congratulate them and Mapa Scotland on their endeavours. The recently conferred listed status should afford further protection.

Of course, the great Polish map of Scotland is just one development that reflects the long-standing relationship between Scotland and Poland. I will broaden out the debate to explore and comment on that.

Polish immigration has enriched Scotland’s culture and has strengthened our economy over many years. If I may be permitted a little self-indulgence, I note that one of my favourite composers is Frédéric Chopin. He is widely regarded as perhaps the greatest Polish composer and is among the greatest composers of all time for the piano. An important influence on Chopin’s life was his Scottish pupil, Jane Stirling. With her encouragement, he visited Scotland in 1848, staying at Calder house, near Edinburgh, and at Johnstone castle in Renfrewshire, my home area. While he was in Edinburgh, he spent time residing at the home of a Polish doctor, Adam Lyszczynski, by whom he was being treated. By contrast, Renfrewshire must have seemed slightly forbidding, as Chopin wrote to his friend, Wojciech Grzymala:

“The weather has changed and it is dreadful outside.”

Some things do not change very much.

The connections between Poland and Scotland are of long standing. In 2012, although not a lot has changed about the Renfrewshire weather, the social climate for our Renfrewshire Polish community is very positive. In February, the Renfrewshire Polish Association was established to bring support to the Polish community living in Renfrewshire and to promote Polish culture in the area. The association’s activities are directed at various age groups, and it aims to provide access to the widest possible part of the Polish community but with a focus on Renfrewshire. Its objectives are to organise events for children, encouraging their development and integration with peers and teaching them the Polish language; to organise events related to Polish traditions and culture; to hold events that allow the Polish minority to integrate with the Scottish community and other national minorities in Renfrewshire; to encourage self-development and improve self-confidence within the Polish community; and, importantly, to assist with the acquisition and improvement of work-related qualifications and language skills.

Given that Polish immigrants face many challenges, the Renfrewshire Polish Association, with its committed volunteers, is doing excellent work both to support my local Polish community and to enhance Renfrewshire. I thank the association for that invaluable work. Given the abundance of musical talent in Renfrewshire, perhaps the Renfrewshire Polish Association would like to consider a Frédéric Chopin celebratory event in memory of his visit to Johnstone 164 years ago. Without doubt, any problems of weather would be more than eclipsed by the beauty of his music.

I thank all our Polish residents, wherever they are in Scotland, for enriching our Scottish communities.

Annabelle Ewing (Mid Scotland and Fife) (SNP): Thank you, Presiding Officer, and dzien dobry—I hope that that has successfully communicated my greeting to you of good afternoon, in Polish. I, too, welcome the Polish consul to the public gallery. I have had the pleasure of meeting the consul on many occasions in Perth.

I congratulate my colleague Christine Grahame on securing this important debate and thank her for giving us the opportunity to highlight not just the considerable achievements of those who were behind the great Polish map of Scotland, but the wider and deeper connections between our countries that that wonderful endeavour represents. We have heard something of that already in the debate. The efforts to ensure that the map is restored and preserved, which have been described, are to be welcomed.

Before I turn to the deep connections between my home patch of Perthshire and Poland, I will briefly mention my personal links with Poland. I had the privilege of attending a summer school at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków in July and August of 1982, some months after martial law had been declared and after trade sanctions had been imposed. I was there as part of a student exchange programme that was, uniquely, allowed to go ahead in those particular circumstances. It was a formative experience and led to my participation, some months later in December of that year, with some pride, in a march in support of Solidarnosc, in Amsterdam where I was studying at the time. I was keen to participate in that march of solidarity, having had those personal experiences in Poland. I have maintained a deep affection for and interest in Poland since that time.

The same applies to Perthshire, whose connections with Poland run deep. For example, the links can be seen in the fact that Perth and Kinross Council has been twinned with the Polish city of Bydgoszcz for many years and, more poignantly, that a special section of Wellshill cemetery in Perth is set aside for Polish war graves from the second world war. Indeed, 381 members of the Polish forces lie at rest in Wellshill, which is about half of all the Polish war graves in Scotland. Many Polish forces were based in Perthshire and, after the war, a great many stayed on, marrying locally, bringing up families and becoming an important part of the local community. That is one reason why a quick perusal of the local telephone book in Perth shows that many people with Polish surnames live in the area.
As part of the year of homecoming in 2009, Horsecross Arts, a multi-award-winning arts organisation in Perth, staged “Scottish Tides-Polish Spring”, which was a three-month-long cultural feast celebrating centuries of close connections between Scotland and Poland. As we have heard, the relationship is a special one that began with the relocation of tens of thousands of Scots to Poland in the late 16th century and the creation of trade links with the Baltic. The relationship has carried on through the centuries, including through the awful events of world war two and the dramatic emigration of Polish people to Scotland in recent years. More than 22,000 Polish people now make their home in Scotland, many in Perthshire.

In recent years, they have been joined by a new wave of Perthshire Poles, with Polish shops and cafes being established in Perth. We also have the Frederick Chopin Saturday Polish school in Perth and the Perth Polish support group, which provides a meeting place for advice and support where members can access resources and information to help them to cope with issues that are related to living and working in a new country.

I am proud that so many Poles have chosen to make a home in Scotland, and particularly in Perthshire. It is absolutely right that we should mark, strengthen and celebrate the links between our two countries, and supporting the work of Mapa Scotland is one important way of doing so. Dziekuje, or thank you, Presiding Officer.

Nigel Don (Angus North and Mearns) (SNP): Given my well-known skill at languages, I will duck any attempt to pronounce anything in Polish, but I am glad that we have an opportunity to discuss this important issue. As usual, when I am this far down the batting list, I have no intention of repeating what has already been said, except to thank Christine Grahame for securing the debate.

I am grateful to Christine Grahame for pointing out that, although the Poles came—and were welcomed—here as a result of their retreat from Europe, they took it upon themselves to defend parts of Scotland. That includes in my patch, up to Montrose.
For many Poles, home was in Forfar, which is an ancient town in Angus. To this day, there are two plaques in Forfar that commemorate the presence of Polish forces. A plaque on Market Street, by the sheriff court building, commemorates a royal visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, along with General Sikorski—he, of the famous helicopters, I think—on 7 March 1941.

The other plaque, situated on the wall by the Forfar cross in the middle of town, commemorates the 10th Polish reconnaissance group’s stay in Forfar during the war. That group, as was mentioned, went on to take part in the Normandy campaign. The following words are engraved on the plaque:

“To commemorate the sojourn of the 10th Polish reconnaissance group in the royal and ancient borough of Forfar. 18 October 1940—3 April 1942. Gifted to the town by the unit on their departure.”

The unit was obviously grateful, and I can tell members why. The troops were not billeted in barracks, but were placed with local families. I suspect that that was typical of what happened around Scotland, and it is probably the reason why there is a great bond of friendship. The Poles formed a band and a choir in the town, and apparently performed regularly in the Pavilion picture house on a Sunday, giving concerts to locals to raise money for the war effort. Later, the 10th Armoured Cavalry Brigade, the reconnaissance unit, three signals companies and a grenadier battalion stayed in Forfar, too.

I am told that one abiding memory is that the troops, when not training, helped with the tattie harvest—I am not sure how tattie will come out in the Official Report. Apparently they did so in pressed uniforms and white gloves, which must have been quite funny to see. That just goes to show how professional they were and how loved they were when they left. They clearly enjoyed their time in Forfar.

I am grateful to Christine Grahame for lodging the motion for debate. I have to say that Mapa Scotland is a wonderful model—I wish that I had one in my constituency because, boy, would we make something of it.

Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North) (SNP): Like Nigel Don, I was impressed by the Polish words spoken by Christine Grahame and others but I, too, will not attempt to replicate them. I wish to thank Christine Grahame and congratulate her on bringing the debate to the chamber. I congratulate everyone involved in Mapa Scotland’s restoration work and, of course, General Maczek and Jan Tomasik for working so hard on developing the 1,200m² map of Scotland.

As others have done, I want to touch on Scotland’s wider links with Poland. There are links to Poland in my constituency—every year, we celebrate the Largs Viking festival to commemorate the 1263 victory of Scotland over the Vikings. Walomin, in Poland, has a Viking festival every year, too, so links are being established between Ayrshire and Poland as a result of the shared history in that area.

In the early modern period or the later middle ages, there was a tremendous emigration of Scots to Poland. We think about the 60,000-plus Poles who now live in Scotland, but think about bygone days—between 1600 and 1650, some 50,000 Scots emigrated to Poland at a time when Scotland had a population of fewer than 1 million people. Most of those emigrants came from Aberdeenshire, Dundee and the east coast of Scotland. They had a tremendous impact on Polish culture and society. Of course, in 1610, when the Poles captured Moscow, there were many Scottish mercenaries in the Polish forces. In 1683, when King John Sobieski of Poland defeated the Turks outside Vienna, once again Scots participated. The Sobieski Stuarts are, as we know, a pretender family to the throne of the United Kingdom.

We also think that Poland has often had a tragic history. A century ago, there was no Poland as we now know it—it was divided between the emperors of Russia, Austria-Hungary and Germany. Yet, in being divided among those three empires, the Polish nation was reborn at the end of the first world war, even managing to resist a Soviet invasion led by General Tukhachevsky in 1920. I understand that Ed Miliband’s great-grandfather took part, on the Soviet side, in that invasion.

In the second world war, many thousands of Poles came to Scotland and fought to defend Scotland and the UK. They hoped, at some time, to go home, but because of the Stalinist rule of Poland, it was not safe for many of them to do so. Many Poles settled in Scotland, married Scottish people and became very much a part of our culture. Growing up, I had Polish friends and friends who had one Polish parent. Polish people have certainly made a great contribution.

Poles are famous for their hard work and determination to look after their families, make a success of life and make the best of what Scotland has to offer.

One famous Scot who went to Poland was Alexander Chalmers, who was four times elected mayor of Warsaw in the 17th century. A tombstone for him, with a lengthy Latin inscription, was erected in 1703 in the cathedral of St John. The cathedral was utterly destroyed during the heroic Warsaw rising of 1944 when the Poles rose up against the Nazis, failed to get any help from their erstwhile Soviet allies and were crushed as a result.
There is much to celebrate in the cultures of Scotland and Poland and their friendship and shared history. While Poland is no longer the America of the day that it was to Scots in the 17th century, there is still tremendous sympathy for Poland among many Scottish people. I have no doubt that many Poles in Scotland today have ancestors from Scotland who settled in Poland all those centuries ago.

The Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs (Fiona Hyslop): Dziekuje Wam, ciesze sie ze moge zakonczyc ta debate.

Thank you, I am delighted to close this debate.

I am particularly grateful to Christine Grahame for securing a debate on the great Polish map of Scotland and indeed challenging us all on the basis that this is the first time that we have had a simultaneous interpretation into Polish in the Parliament. I welcome the Polish consul general and our Polish friends in the gallery.

In closing what has been a fascinating debate, I add my support to Parliament’s recognition of the great Polish map of Scotland. The map represents a significant contribution to the cultural life of Scotland and is an opportunity to enhance our continuing strong cultural and economic links with Poland. I was struck by the passionate testimony of Graeme Pearson, Jean Urquhart, Chic Brodie, Annabel Goldie, Annabelle Ewing, Nigel Don and Kenny Gibson, who recognised the historic and modern connections between Poland and Scotland.

I add the Government’s voice to the congratulations expressed by members to Mapa Scotland’s volunteers. Those dedicated individuals have campaigned tirelessly to protect and restore this unique three-dimensional map of Scotland.

This is a timely moment to show our appreciation of the contribution that has been made to Scotland by Polish people who have settled here.

I welcome the decision by Historic Scotland earlier this week to list the map. It reflects the wide interest in the map and showcases Scotland’s and Poland’s shared history, culture and creativity, and the unique contribution to Scotland’s defence during the second world war.

Recently, the director of conservation at Historic Scotland met senior staff from the Polish Ministry of Culture, the Polish Ministry of Energy and Poland’s National Heritage Board to discuss our climate change work on heritage and traditional buildings. Together, we have started a journey to raise the profile of cultural diplomacy, with the potential to produce a global impact on how nations relate to one another and build trust and understanding between nations.

It is appropriate to explain why the map has been recognised by Historic Scotland. As we have heard, it is a vast three-dimensional concrete representation of Scotland, which is found in the grounds of Barony castle hotel near Eddleston in the Borders. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world. The map was constructed in 1975 by five imaginative Polish geographers from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków using a range of unorthodox cartographic methods. The completed structure is a combination of precise survey technique and intuitive handcrafting to create a convincing three-dimensional representation of Scotland. The map is an incredible thing. Ben Nevis is easily identifiable at a glance, and the map originally had water flowing through it to represent Scotland’s main lochs and rivers.

Following the annexing of Poland by Nazi Germany in 1939, Polish forces made their way across Europe to Scotland to reconvene at a number of lowland locations. Those included Barony house, where a staff college for Polish army officers was established. Part of their role was to create defences for large sections of Scotland’s east coast. As Scotland was largely undefended, Polish forces were deployed to aid in the building of defences. Many examples of those defences survive in the landscape today, including pillboxes and anti-landing obstacles, many of which are scheduled or listed in recognition of their place in our military history.

It was at the request of General Stanislaw Maczek, the former wartime commander of the First Polish Armoured Division, and the war veteran Jan Tomasik that the great Polish map was commissioned in the 1970s. The conception, commissioning and execution of the giant map were quite remarkable and inspired. It was conceived to commemorate a wartime strategic map that was originally laid out in the grounds of Barony house by Maczek as commanding officer. We owe a debt to those courageous Poles for their great legacy, and we recognise the vital contribution that they made not only to the defence of Scotland during the war years, but in the decades that followed.

Of the 50,000 service personnel who were based in Scotland, 10,000 decided to stay and settle. We have heard stories about some of them during the debate. In more recent times, links with Poland have continued, with the accession of Poland to the European Union in 2004, and there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Polish people making a new home in Scotland. More than 61,000 Polish migrants have registered to live and work in Scotland, and Poles make up the biggest percentage of nationals from the accession states who have settled in Scotland.

Polish migrants came to my constituency 150 years ago to work in the mines, so in West Lothian we talk of three waves of Polish immigration. This year, we saw the largest ever Polska arts programme at the Edinburgh international festival, which included a modern interpretation of Macbeth that was wholly performed in Polish with English subtitles. I met the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage when he attended the international culture summit and had the pleasure of attending the opening performance of the Polish Macbeth with him and the Polish consul general, and the Adam Mickiewicz institute of culture.

Although the contribution of Poles in Scotland in the modern era is one that has been stimulated by a new Europe—one that is no longer hindered by the destructive forces of war but held together by the common goal of peace and prosperity—there are lessons to be learned from the past. Scotland and Poland continue to maintain strong links in the present, but it is important to recognise the efforts of those committed individuals and organisations that bind the Scottish-Polish community. We have heard many examples of such efforts across Scotland.

I congratulate the Mapa Scotland group of volunteers, who formed a charitable trust to bring the great Polish map of Scotland into focus. In 2010, they began their enthusiastic campaign to have the map protected and repaired for the benefit of future generations and to reinforce Scotland’s heritage links with Poland. The campaign to restore the map is now well under way and the Mapa Scotland group has secured heritage lottery funding to advance its plans.

I have been very pleased to confirm that, as a creative nation that is rich in heritage and which contributes to the world, Scotland is open to vital cultural exchange. It is appropriate to celebrate the great map of Scotland in the Scottish Borders as an important and unique memorial that commemorates the achievements of two countries working together. In securing the debate, Christine Grahame has allowed us to celebrate the work that the volunteers have done. More importantly, we have had an opportunity to remember, commemorate and celebrate the heritage that led to the map’s creation and, vitally, to continued dialogue, exchange and friendship between the people of Scotland and the people of Poland.

Meeting closed at 17:49

Parliament debate 2012

Dr. Tomasz Trafas, Polish consul general, was present for the debate in the public gallery (front row, third from right); as were the son, grandson and great-grandson of Jan Tomasik who also bear that same name (fourth row), and son-in-law Marek Melges (front row , far right), Also present were Keith Burns, Secretary of Mapa Scotland (front row, far left), with Nick Macdonald , Chair (second row, third from left), Graham Russell, Treasurer, (second row, on right) and Roger Kelly, founder of the campaign to restore the Great Polish Map of Scotland (third row, on left).