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6 September 2016

Site access at Maeshowe

Temporary closure to Orkney monument announced

Maeshowe interior, showing the small doorway

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced a temporary closure of one of its Orkney sites due to health and safety concerns.

Maeshowe is currently accessed from Tormiston Mill and the adjacent car park, located across the busy A965 road. HES have been monitoring safety issues for staff and visitors relating to vehicle movements, and consider there to be significant risks to staff and visitors which cannot be mitigated effectively at this time. Tormiston Mill and Maeshowe will therefore be temporarily closed to public access from week commencing September 26th, with staff being re-deployed to other duties on Orkney. There will be no job losses, and staff will receive full support from the organisation in this period.

Dr David Mitchell, Director of Conservation and Acting Chief Executive, said, “The HES Board recently considered a development proposal which looked at the site infrastructure. They wish to discuss the project further with Orkney Islands Council. This was a catalyst for us to re-assess the risks associated with the site and in consequence we have decided to effect a temporary site closure until the identified risk can be mitigated to a satisfactory level. We are currently planning to temporarily close Maeshowe and Tormiston Mill from week commencing 26th of September.

“This is not a decision we take lightly, but our primary focus must be the safety of our staff and visitors. Staff are being temporarily re-deployed to other duties, and we are looking at routes to enhance our normal offer over the winter period. In the longer term, we are absolutely committed to finding a long-term solution for this site and working with our partners to conserve and share the wonderful heritage assets in Orkney.

“We will of course continue to conserve the site, and hope to see a positive resolution so we can continue to let visitors enjoy a special place.”

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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Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

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For further information, please contact:

Ali George
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8714 
Mobile: 07583 018 790