With the scaffolding now in place around Dean Castle, stonework repairs are due to commence as part of the £5 million restoration and renovation project.
Contractors, CBC Stone, will begin the process of removing the cement pointing to stone walls of the Castle and replace it with lime mortar.
The walls of the Castle are mostly constructed of large random stone blocks inset with mortar. The right kind of mortar will let moisture in and out of the walls, allowing the walls to ‘breathe’. However, previous repairs, including those done by Lord Howard de Walden himself, used cement rather than lime, which traps moisture within the walls. As a result, the stonework has become saturated and is crumbling as the walls are unable to dry out, resulting in mould and sections of mortar flaking off.
Councillor Elena Whitham, Chair of East Ayrshire Leisure said: “I’m delighted to see progress taking place. These essential restoration works to the stonework will ensure that the Castle can be enjoyed for many generations to come.”
As part of these works, some tree felling will take place around the Castle. This will allow for new landscaping as part of the restoration and will be more in keeping with the heritage setting of the Castle. The wood from the felled trees will be reused within the park for key projects and a coppice woodland with 2000 new trees will also be planted.
There may be some minor disruption to public access during this time as some of the felling works will take place outside the site compound, but every effort is being made to minimise this.
With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Environment Scotland and East Ayrshire Council, the works to the castle will take around two years to complete.
Whilst the Castle remains closed, its internationally renowned collections of arms and armour, musical instruments, tapestries and other collections have been moved to the Dick Institute for safe keeping and display. The Dean Castle Collections Exhibition is currently on display in the North Museum and entry is free.