Workers place time capsule in memorial fountain

A TIME capsule has been placed in a popular Scottish landmark by the stonemasons repairing the fountain.

The stonemason prepares to place the capsule inside the fountain. Picture: Contributed

Workers repairing Atholl Memorial Fountain in Dunkeld have placed a box with a Commonwealth Games baton relay poster, National Trust for Scotland items, and a little something for any future stonemasons who will work on the fountain.

The hollow fountain spire, thought to contain a bottle of whisky lowered there by builders in 1970, was dismantled by workers during the repairs.

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Unfortunately for experts working on the Atholl Memorial Fountain in Dunkeld, the local legend about a hidden bottle of malt whisky turned out to be a fairytale.

To ensure future stonemasons won’t be facing the same disappointment, a gift has been placed inside the hollow spire.

‘During the repairs in the 1970s a bottle of whisky had allegedly been lowered in’

Ben Notley, property manager for the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), said today: “During repairs in the 1970s a bottle of whisky had allegedly been lowered in from the top, although nothing was found.

“I thought we had to use the opportunity to ensure something was put inside this time.”

The major programme of conservation repairs on the well-known Dunkeld landmark is nearing its final stages, following extensive repairs after being vandalised in 2012.

One of the stonemasons working on the fountain was given the task of placing a time capsule inside the structure.

Ruben Ilanos lowered in the secret package, which will recognise the link between those who have funded and worked on the memorial in the past and present -- and in anticipation of those who might have the honour in the future.

Mr Notley revealed some of the contents, saying: “It contains an item from the NTS, a commemoration of the Birnam Highland Games to celebrate its 150th anniversary, a Commonwealth Games baton relay poster and a few mystery items.

“It also has a wee something for any future stonemasons who work on this part of the fountain.”

‘The Atholl Memorial Fountain has been the focus of an £80,000 restoration programme’

Over the last two months the Atholl Memorial Fountain has been the focus of an £80,000 restoration programme.

The centrepiece of the monument, which featured three entwined dolphins or fish-like creatures, was broken off and underwent specialist repair.

Meanwhile the damaged bowl was removed by a crane and the decorations were taken to a workshop in Edinburgh.

Repairs have been carried out by Nicolas Boyes Stone Conservation Ltd, the same firm responsible for the work on the 15th Century Rosslyn Chapel.

Its team has spent the last 12 weeks carefully cleaning the stonework, repointing the joints with lime mortar, repairing cracks and successfully completing the challenging task of removing and repairing two of the granite pillars that support the top half of the structure.

‘Rebuilding the spire before carrying out a final clean down’

Director Nicolas Boyes said: “We are now rebuilding the spire and will then carry out a final clean down, which will allow us to remove the scaffolding that has covered the fountain since April.

“Our final tasks will include returning and securely fixing the central bowl and fish, which have been repaired and stored in our Edinburgh workshop since last year.

“We will also replace the missing lion’s head on the north side.”

Built in 1866 as a tribute to George Augustus Frederick John, 6th Duke of Atholl, who introduced piped water to Dunkeld, the fountain is one of the most photographed attractions in the town.