Replica whale jaw is ready to make its dramatic entrance

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IT is not something you see every day, but a giant fibreglass whale bone is set to be airlifted into place to give North Berwick Law back its famous landmark.

After three years without its imposing feature, the summit will once more be home to a whale bone arch.

The arch, which was removed in June 2005 over safety fears, is so heavy that it will have to be airlifted in by helicopter.

The total cost of replacing the jaw bone is estimated to be 18,000 to 20,000. The Friends of North Berwick has funded the majority of the project, while East Lothian Council – which organised and co-ordinated the replacement – has contributed approximately 5000.

The first whale's jaw bone was erected at the top of North Berwick Law in 1709. It was replaced around 1789 and renewed in the 1850s by landowner Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple from an old Dunbar whale ship.

In 1933 it was blown down and replaced two years later by a jaw bone taken from an Antarctic whale – gifted by John Dunlop, the son of a North Berwick town councillor – and is said to have been attached by chain to a local farmer's Clydesdale horses and dragged up the hill.

The jawbone become unsafe and was taken down by helicopter three years ago.

The replacement jaw was constructed by fibreglass moulder Jim Ralph, the owner of Ralph Plastics, at Macmerry Industrial estate. Mr Ralph, from Edinburgh's Duddingston Avenue, was assisted by Tom Blackie and son Colin in the project.

At 6.5 metres, the replica will be the same size as its predecessor.

One and a half metres of the object will be sunk into the ground, and the rest will be above the surface.

Mr Ralph and all those associated with the new whale jaw are hoping it will be seen and enjoyed by generations to come.

He said: "It's made and ready to be put up. They're just waiting for the helicopter and suitable weather.

He added: "I'm very happy with it."

The whale jaw has been a popular and easily recognisable feature of the 615ft law – a protected ancient monument – for centuries.

Its origins are shrouded in mystery, although it is thought locally that it was erected because North Berwick was a whaling port back in the early 18th century. However, there is no documentation to validate these claims.

Ever since its creation, the landmark has been a popular attraction.

The new replica bone was constructed by shaping a timber core and covering it with polyurethane foam, before building it up with fibreglass.

A council spokesperson said it was hoped the jaw could be put in place within the next two to three weeks.