by Ross Perkin
After five months in England and Wales, the Scholars and Fellows have finally reached Scotland. This week began with a visit to Historic Scotland HQ where Roger Curtis explained their research into the energy efficiency of historic buildings. Historic Scotland’s work shares similarities with the SPAB’s own research on energy efficiency.
On Tuesday the group spent the morning at Ratho Byres Forge where repair work to all sorts of historic ironwork is undertaken. Master blacksmith Phil Johnson demonstrated the highly skilled processes involved in his work. In the afternoon each of the Scholars forged their own nail from mild steel. SPAB Fellow Johnnie Clark organised a full day of stone carving for the group at Glasgow Cathedral’s works department masonry yard on Wednesday. By the end of the day everyone had carved an Ovolo moulding in sandstone.
Later in the week, the group enjoyed presentations at Edinburgh Council planning offices. Head of conservation Jack Gillon explained the council’s attitudes towards conservation policy. Alison Morris and Diana Garrett outlined several case-studies involving listed and ‘at-risk’ buildings. Fiona McDonald then concluded with a discussion regarding the implications of Edinburgh’s status as a world heritage city.
Next up was a trip to Bonnington House at Jupiter Artland, just outside Edinburgh. Orginally built in 1622, Bonnington House was completely remodelled in 1858 in the Jacobean style and sits in 80 acres of grounds. Jupiter Artland is an outdoor sculpture park with major works commissioned from sculptors and land artists such as Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy. The hosts for the day were Ben Tindall and Graciella Ainsworth; Ben has helped to develop the contemporary sculpture park and is currently adding two historical wings to Bonnington House.
The week concluded with an extensive tour of the hidden spaces underneath Edinburgh Castle. The group learnt that extensive parts of the castle were re-built in the nineteenth century. These were modelled on Victorian ideals of what a castle ought to look like. This has led to a confusing arrangement of forms in some areas and brings into question the problems with restoration.