Investigation launched as two ‘shoebox’ sized rocks fall from Edinburgh Castle before Tattoo
an urgent safety investigation has been launched after a “shoebox” sized chunk of rock fell from Edinburgh Castle and damaged two vehicles shortly before a Tattoo performance was about to get under way.
Experts abseiled down the landmark yesterday to investigate the latest in a string of rockfalls over the past decade. Historic Scotland, the body responsible for the castle, denied regular fireworks displays and flypasts for the Tattoo are to blame.
The latest incident, one of at least eight in the past decade, is believed to have involved a chunk of rock from a section below the castle’s Great Hall.
Specialist engineers and geologists were called in by Historic Scotland and the city council following the incident, which happened shortly before 8pm on Wednesday.
However, it is thought torrential rain is likely to be responsible, with the agency claiming falls from natural erosion are a regular occurrence.
There was widespread traffic congestion around the top of the Royal Mile after the whole of Johnston Terrace had to be closed for almost 24 hours while safety checks were carried out.
However, the city council and police were satisfied that it was safe to reopen the road in time for last night’s rush-hour.
A spokesman for Historic Scotland said: “There is no evidence to suggest that firework displays during the Tattoo or other annual events have any effect on the stability of rock faces below Edinburgh Castle.
“We previously undertook a full year of vibration monitoring at the castle to establish if fireworks would have any effects on historic glass. The results showed there were no vibrations from any activity at the castle sufficient to crack glass.
“Given these findings, it is unlikely that vibrations from fireworks have a significant effect on the rate of rockfall. Only four rockfalls have been recorded in the past five years – in September 2008, September 2010, March 2011, and Wednesday’s incident. The road was closed after each fall, for specialist inspection and the removal of surface debris and plant growth.
“The degradation of the rock is an entirely natural process.” Johnston Terrace is a key thoroughfare used to accommodate vehicles for broadcasters, the military and performers during the Tattoo.
Many spectators heading to the event also walk up Johnston Terrace on their way to the main entrance on Castlehill.
The road has been closed for several weeks in the past to allow for maintenance and repair work to be carried out.
The most serious of four incidents in the past four years saw a tourist coach damaged in September 2008. A boulder smashed into a taxi in May 2006, just months after a several pieces of rock up to a metre wide fell on to Johnston Terrace.
A council spokeswoman said: “The maintenance of Edinburgh Castle is a matter for Historic Scotland. We would not have reopened the road if it had not been safe. We will continue to work with partners to ensure the safety of the public.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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