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10 October 2015

New Edinburgh Castle rock trap to be installed

A new, permanent rock trap wall is being installed on Edinburgh Castle Rock.

Contractors work to install a new rock trap on the south-facing side of Edinburgh Castle Rock.

Edinburgh Castle is to have a new, permanent wall and rock trap installed. The new installation, which is being taken forward by new heritage body Historic Environment Scotland, in collaboration with the city of Edinburgh Council, will replace a temporary barrier installed in mid-2013 and follows a public consultation exercise.

The new structure will consist of a 1 metre high stone boundary wall with 1.5 metre high metal railings on top. The current structure is 3 metres high but the loss in height is compensated for by increasing the wall’s distance from the base of the rock, creating a rock trap and gravel blanket at the base of the castle.

The work begins on Monday 12 October and is due to be completed in March 2016.

Barbara Cummins, Director of Heritage Management for Historic Environment Scotland, who manage Edinburgh Castle said: “It’s important that the public are assured that we have no immediate concerns regarding the rock face, however as impenetrable as the castle rock might appear, it’s not immune to the effects of the weather. The constant freeze and thaw during the winter months can open up cracks in the rock face, which then allows a plant known as valerian to take root. Once this germinates the bulb expands and, over long periods of time, this process can cause rocks to fracture and fall.

“At the moment we have a temporary structure in place which offers significant protection, and we supplement that by having our highly trained staff abseil down the rock on a regular basis to carefully remove loose fragments from the surface. Whilst these measures help to minimise the risk of rock falls, the regular monitoring and scaling is time consuming and ultimately disruptive to visitors to the castle and drivers on Johnston Terrace, which has to be closed whilst work is being carried out. The new rock trap will enhance our current risk control arrangements and reduce disruption in the process.”

Whilst the work is on-going there will be some disruption to traffic and parking on the lower section of Johnston Terrace, as one side of the road will be closed off for the duration of the project. This means that traffic will be restricted to just one direction (downhill/ Westward bound) with no access from the West End, other than for emergency vehicles. Coach parking will be restricted on certain parts of the street but car parking should not be affected. The works should have no impact on the upper section of Johnston Terrace.

A traffic management plan has been agreed with the City of Edinburgh Council and will be in place for the duration of the project.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
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2015 is the Year of Food and Drink, a celebration of Scotland’s natural larder and the role that food and drink plays in shaping our economic success. Scotland generates over £2.5m per day through food and drink tourism. A series of themed months will create an appetite for key areas of Scotland’s food and drink industries – from seafood and whisky to berries and high-quality meat.

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For further information

Alan Bannon
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8588
Mobile: 07854 366 805