VITAL conservation work has begun to protect the oldest castle keep in Scotland.
• Conservation work has begun on Drum Castle, Scotland’s oldest castle keep
• The 700-year-old structure near Banchory will benefit from a £700,000 project to replace cement pointing with breathable lime mortar
The 700-year-old medieval tower at the National Trust for Scotland’s Drum Castle near Banchory is to undergo specialist works to remove cement pointing and replace it with traditional, breathable lime mortar to help preserve the historic keep.
Drum Castle, the seat of the Chief of Clan Irvine for centuries, has the oldest keep in Scotland and is the oldest intact building in the care of the trust.
A National Trust spokesman explained: “A scaffold is now being built around the whole historic tower. This is a major piece of construction work and will take several weeks to conclude. Once the scaffold has been completed, the first task is to painstakingly chip away the existing mortar.”
He added: “The £700,000 project is generously funded by a grant awarded by the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA made possible by the generous support of an anonymous donor and Historic Scotland.”
Property Manager Alison Burke said: “Work is underway on this huge conservation project and the scaffolding is now going up. The plan is that the scaffolding will be up until the end of the year. Visitors are really interested in hearing more about the project and why this work is being undertaken and are very supportive of our efforts to ensure this important tower remains for seven more centuries.”
Drum Castle, which also features a Jacobean wing and later Victorian remodelling, was developed by generations of Irvines from the 13th Century to 1975, having been given the land by King Robert the Bruce. Legend has it that the barony, and the holly on the Irvine crest, were awarded after William de Irwyn guarded the king sleeping under a bush of the spiky plant.