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3 May 2022

Recent conservation work in the North East region

Written by Annie Robertson, Building Surveyor, North East
A view of Crathes Castle from the manicured lawn in front. Two large eggcup-shaped yew hedges stand in the foreground.
Thanks to our supporters, we’ve been very busy in the North East region as we work hard to protect the special and unique buildings in our care.

At Crathes Castle we were delighted to see the conservation of the carved stone finial completed, with the 16th-century figure returned to public display after many years. He was removed from the roof in 1993 and placed inside the castle; a replica was carved and then took his place in the rooftop position. After careful conservation work and the construction of a brace by a specialist mount maker, our 400-year-old character will soon go back on display inside the Long Gallery, close to his original location but kept safe inside the castle this time!

He is a contemporary of the stone carved figures at Fyvie Castle, which have also been subject to decay due to their age and their prolonged exposure to the elements. The conservation of our Crathes figure has been a brilliant learning opportunity before we begin a major conservation programme of the Fyvie stone guardians.

Weather also presents us with challenges at Drum, where we’re assessing alternative ways of dealing with rainwater at the Old Tower. The open wall heads and wall walk at the top of the castle are struggling to shed water away and keep the tower dry; this is a constant battle due to the increase of rain we’re experiencing because of climate change. A highly skilled team have been exploring options, and a solution is currently in the works. Once fully explored and confirmed as appropriate, we hope to implement it through a phased programme over the next few years.

A view of the Old Tower at Drum Castle, standing beside the Jacobean extension of the castle. The tower is square with battlements. A large area of mown grass is in the foreground.
The Old Tower at Drum

On top of these specific projects, we’ve also been continuing with our planned preventative maintenance programmes. These activities ensure our buildings are cared for and minor issues are picked up before damage is caused to the building fabric and interiors. Following the winter storms, we have seen more damage to roof structures than normal – we are now carrying out repairs as we clear gutters and undertake high-level inspections.

The Trust would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to our Protect Our Places, Protect Our History appeal. These donations have helped us undertake all this work in the North East, and so much more across Scotland. Thanks to our supporters, we’re able to ensure that the precious buildings in our care will be here for future generations to enjoy.

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