Historic Scotland announces next phase in rock safety programme at Edinburgh Castle


26 February 2013
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imports_CESC_0-fh7qo1yp-100000_90961.jpg Historic Scotland announces next phase in rock safety programme at Edinburgh Castle
The next stage in Historic Scotland's rock safety programme, to secure the rock face upon which Edinburgh Castle stands, has been announced. ...

The next stage in Historic Scotland's rock safety programme, to secure the rock face upon which Edinburgh Castle stands, has been announced. The castle's dominating position over the city of Edinburgh comes thanks to its location at the summit of a huge volcanic plug which suffers periodic rock falls due to weathering and erosion.

The £1 million project will help to secure the south face of the rock face, which rises above Johnston Terrace. The proposals will involve constructing a 3 metre high x 170 metre long barrier to form a protective area at the base of the rock on Johnston Terrace, to further improve public safety. This arrangement has been developed following extensive rock-fall modelling and expert advice from specialist geo-technical engineers.

The decision to create this barrier offers enhanced long-term mitigation to the ongoing natural processes of weathering and erosion which can result in rock falls. The proposal is also part of Historic Scotland’s long-standing safety management strategy for the faces of the castle rock.

Stage one of the programme will involve installation of a temporary barrier on Johnston Terrace during March 2013, which will remain in place during the development of a more permanent solution in the second phase. Phase one will also include spray treatment to eradicate invasive plant growth, which can over time penetrate and loosen rock joints. While some metal netting has previously been installed over a limited area of the northern face of the rock to provide protection for the railway line, this solution was not felt appropriate for the southern face. It was felt that this would have a significant detrimental visual impact on the castle’s iconic south elevation.

Barbara Cummins, Historic Scotland’s Director of Heritage Management who is overseeing the project, said: 'Firstly, it is important to stress that this work is not in response to any increased risk of rock falls. This is part of a long-term strategy we have been rolling out over the last few years to improve the safety of the rock which involves taking a proactive approach to minimising the potential for any loose rocks caused by erosion or weathering to reach the ground.

'These proposals will ensure our commitment to public safety around the castle is enhanced. We are about to embark on a consultation process involving numerous community groups and stakeholders to inform them of the proposal and encourage their input to the wall’s design.'

It is anticipated – subject to planning approval and other matters – that the permanent solution will be in place by the end of 2014.

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