Scottish Castles Association

Preserving the Past for the Future

The consolidation conundrum

If they are to be preserved our castles must go through some form of consolidation or repair - and most people would agree that the integrity of the building should be preserved and such repairs should be sympathetic to the original. However, the well-intentioned search for 'purity' can sometimes lead to some bizarre results which can detract from a building's appearance.

Here are five examples that show different approaches to consolidation. Does such work detract from our experience when viewing a monument or does it indeed protect its integrity? You decide...

Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute

The ruined gatehouse was rebuilt by the Marquis of Bute around 1900. Here, as elsewhere, he clearly delineates the old from the new, in this case by the use of red ashlar.

Rothesay Castle - red ashlar has been used to delineate the old from the new

Blencowe Hall, Cumbria

An imaginative approach was taken in restoration. Instead of infilling the split it was utilised in a splendid fashion.

Blencowe Hall - an imaginative approach was taken for restoration work here

Bothwell Castle, Lanark

The red sandstone had badly weathered, Historic Environment Scotland have used modern brick to infill and support the 15th century corner tower. This is clearly visible.

Tarbert Castle, Argyll

Extensive consolidation by a local group has rescued this castle but here, as at Bothwell, modern brick has been used to plug gaps in the wall. Further, what looks like a cast of a West Highland gravestone has been superimposed on the repair.

Bothwell Tarbert
LEFT: Bothwell Castle - modern brick has been used to support the corner tower
RIGHT: Tarbert Castle - again, modern brick plugs gaps in the walls

Lochore Castle, Fife

Rescued by a local group but here again modern brick has been used to replace robbed-out stonework.

Lochore Castle was rescued by a local group who have propped up its walls with modern brick

Article by Scottish Castles Association member Brian McGarrigle.

Added: 11 Sep 2018 Updated: 20 Sep 2018
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