Safety inspections at Scotland’s historic sites ‘90 per cent completed’

Dozens of high-profile attractions were closed in 2021 and 2022

Ministers have confirmed a programme of safety inspections at Scotland's historic sites is 90 per cent completed.

Dozens of high-profile attractions were closed in 2021 and 2022 after concerns were raised over unstable masonry. A number remain closed, such as Kelso Abbey and Edzell Castle.

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But SNP culture minister Kaukab Stewart said Historic Environment Scotland (HES) continues to work hard to reopen sites.

Kelso Abbey. Picture: Stuart CobleyKelso Abbey. Picture: Stuart Cobley
Kelso Abbey. Picture: Stuart Cobley

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, she said: “As we would all expect, HES must continue to prioritise the health and safety of visitors, staff and contractors.

"It continues to work hard to reopen sites as soon as it's safe to do so, and in fact Historic Environment Scotland has now completed 90 per cent of the priority high-level masonry inspections, and across its estate there is full or partial access to 90 per cent of its year-round properties."

Ms Stewart was asked about the issue by Tory MSP Finlay Carson, who said HES needed to tackle a “serious shortage” in traditional skills such as stonemasonry. HES previously said climate change was accelerating the deterioration of sites, with 70 affected by closures.

A blog posted to the HES website last month said the body had reopened or increased access at more than 50 sites to date. It said: “Since beginning the programme, we’ve inspected 67 sites and reopened 51 – plus more to come.

"Some of the reopened sites have temporary restrictions in place while we address any remaining concerns, but it’s important to us to open up as much as we can to our visitors whenever possible.

"It’s not a one-size-fits-all process. Our specialist teams meticulously examine each site, providing the necessary care – like doctors conducting a thorough check-up. This may involve cleaning, repairs, or further inspections depending on the specific needs of the site.”

The blog added: “The initial inspections are nearing completion, but the work continues. Now, our team is moving on to inspect all our structures above 1.4m. They’re conducting detailed tactile inspections (literally inspecting each stone by hand). The good news is that in the future, most sites won’t need to be closed for inspections.”



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