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Protecting Orkney’s Heritage

Several iconic buildings in Orkney are to be inspected over the next few months by the team at Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

St Magnus church Egilsay Image credit Martin Laird

HES has identified that a combination of factors, including the impact of climate change, are having an adverse effect on the condition of a number of Scotland’s historic monuments, particularly at high level. Accordingly, HES has implemented a high level masonry inspection programme, which is conducted by specially trained HES staff, to assess the condition of sites through tactile surveys and determine whether or not repairs are required. While this is not an issue unique to Scotland, HES is believed to be amongst the first heritage organisations to adopt this approach and is sharing both the methodology and findings with peer organisations. 

Sites being inspected in Orkney include  Midhowe Chambered Cairn, Rousay; St Magnus Church, Egilsay; and Noltland Castle, Westray.

Before the high level masonry work can take place preparatory visits have to take place to survey the sites. Access to visitors may be restricted during the ongoing conservation work.

Noltland Castle, Westray © Crown Copyright HES.

Craig Mearns, Director of Operations at HES, said:

“Our sites across Orkney are hugely significant to our heritage, spanning 5,000 years of history and covering some of the most diverse sites in our care. It is really important that we do our best to preserve them for future generations and this programme of work is crucial to achieving that.

“We regret any short-term inconvenience the inspection programme may cause, however, this will be overshadowed by the longer-term benefits.” 

Inside Midhowe Cairn Rousay Image credit: B Bell

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