Conserving an Icon: Edinburgh Castle
Hello everybody, welcome, to edinburgh, castle. My name is bruce chandler. And i'm one of historic environment, scotland's. District, architects. And the main part of my job involves, looking after. Edinburgh castle. Which is, what i'm going to take you around, today, we'll look at some of the. Interesting bits and pieces and i hope it will give you a flavor of the place. And entice you to come back, when you're allowed to which hopefully won't be too long, first of all up here i want to talk a bit about. Geology. And. Why, castle, hill is here and why the castle is built in this position. Um. If you look over there you can see, arthur's, seat and salisbury, crags. And. Like castle rock itself, they're the remains, of. An ancient volcano. From about, 340. Million years ago. Which covered a large, part of this area. And is quite well known in geological. Circles, because it has examples, of most of the. Important, volcanic, features. Slightly more recently, 25. 000 years ago, there was the ice age. And this whole area was covered in, sheets of ice. And glaciers. Moving. Generally, from west, to east. And, the volcanic, activity, had burst, through the sedimentary, rocks. But then when the. Ice age came and the, glaciers, were moving. West to east. Down that way. They eroded, the softer sedimentary. Rocks. And, what you ended up with was the, plug, volcanic, plug that we're now standing, on which is castle rock. And the various, other, hard, volcanic, rocks upstanding. With various bits of sedimentary, rocks around them. One of the effects, of the movement of the ice from west to east was that you got the, typical, crag. And tail the crag being, castle, rock, and the tail, being. All the debris and the remains of the sedimentary, layers going from here right down, the royal mile, down to hollyrood. And the park at the bottom. We're now standing, right in front of the gate house here, um. This is the, the main entrance, main, east elevation, of the castle. And, was also one of the most vulnerable, positions, as well if you look back towards, the end of the high street. You'll see how close we are to. The city itself. So defending, this, fate of the castle has always been very very important. And even going right back to the iron age, when, excavations. Were done, to do with the tunnel they found remains, of two iron age ditches. In this location, across in front of where the gate house now is. Subsequently. A spur, was built and that was about halfway, down. The present escalade. And the present, dry ditch that we see here. Dates from uh after the time of oliver cromwell. But the the gatehouse, entrance, that you see with the archway, here, too, dates from the time of the building of the gatehouse, in the. 1880s. It originally, had. A sliding, drop drawbridge. Where the. Timber. Balustrade. Is at the moment. And the. Previous, entrances, the castle, were also equipped with standard. Drawbridges. And we're now going to go. Through the. Archway. And. We'll, look at the sculptures, either side on the way and look at some. Armament, panels actually within the arch. We're now sending, in the. Archway. Of the gatehouse, that's the main visitor, entrance, to the castle. Um. This is as i said um. Late 1880s. This was built but if you look up above your heads you'll see. There are two, carved panels one on either side, and we think these date from the 1540s. And were, originally. In the, munitions, house in crown square.
After That they were transferred, down to one of the previous, gateways. Coming into the castle just adjacent, to here. Then they were taken, by the society, of antiquaries, of edinburgh. Into storage. And then when this building was built they gave them. And, they are now built in here, into the into the walls. What's interesting, about them is that they, show the, um. Munitions, of the time about 1540. And they include, representation. Of mons meg. And, a gun carriage, for it, and, that gun carriage that you see up there, was the pattern which was used. In 1936. To build the wooden carriage which mons meg sits on at the. Moment. So we've now come through the gatehouse, passenger, and standing on the inside of the gatehouse. And up to my left you can see. How intimately. The, man-made, masonry, relates, to the natural. Rock, castle, rock itself. The main feature that you can see here is the big curved, wall. Of the half moon battery, which was built, after the siege of 1573. Which was one of about 20 sieges, that the castle was subjected, to over the years. And this particular, one did a huge amount of damage. Including. The almost, total destruction, of david's, tower, which, actually was higher, than this battery, here. And the remains are actually enclosed, within the battery walls. And they were only fully revealed, in the early 20th, century, during. Excavations. We're now on, argyle, battery which is in middleward. And. It's a six-gun, battery. And looks out towards, the further fourth and leith. Defending the north side of this part of the castle. This was. Built in the. 1730s. As part of the, major works on the defenses, on this side of the castle. And going around right towards the west end which we'll see later. If you look back at argyle, tower, and portcullis, gate which we came through a moment ago, you can see very clearly from here the difference, between, the. Medieval. Earlier stone work, and the, finer, ashler, victorian, stonework, up above there's a great contrast. And the, the architect, responsible. For. That building on argyll, tower. Was called hippolyte, blanc. Who was an edinburgh, architect despite his french name. He had worked for the. Office of works. And had done quite a lot of, work on historic, churches. And became very interested in historic, buildings, did work on. This building here, and he also did. A significant, amount of work on the great hall which we'll, also, see. Later. So we've now come up, the hill slightly from governor's, house down there. Um, and we're now standing on what is called hawk hill. Research suggests, that it was called that because, it was a hill which was used for hawking. Before. These buildings, on, the west side of the castle were built, this would have been fairly open ground. So plenty of room for. Activities, like that. The. New barracks, is one of the buildings, which was built on this side. Taking up some of that what was then vacant, ground. And is a very large building although you don't realize that from this side because from here all you see are three floors. And some, dormer windows, in the roof. But there are. Additional, floors, down below which were built, um to, take up the difference in levels, between where we are now. And the, slope underneath, of castle rock going downhill, towards the west. And we'll see that in a bit more detail when we walk around the, west side of the castle. We're now going to walk up through, foogs gate. And that's an interesting, name in itself and research, there suggested. Well a number of um, suggestions, would you made for that one being, foggy gate which is quite appropriate, for, its, location, here in scotland, just off the fourth. But, a more likely explanation. Seems to be old foogies. Gate. The old fogies. Which we would now probably call old fogies. Were the, invalids. Because they have invalid, regiments, and some of these people were sent up from. Chelsea. When they were passed or really active service, and the suggestion, was that, this gate might have been manned by them because it was the one which was. The last in line if you like and. The. Perhaps, where the soldiers. Were, not as fit as, some of the others might need to be, further down towards the entrance. We're now, in crown, square. Which as you can see is, not exactly level but a, platform. And as i said before this is built over. Volts. Which take up the difference in level between castle, rock which slopes down. From that side, to the south. And in here you've got the, palace over here.
And Then the great hall. And. On the great hall you can see various, variations. In the, external, elevation. They're the remains of old door, and window openings. But the more regular. Setup you've got at the moment. Including, the parapet. The, mullin, transom windows, is the result of the work by hippolyte, blanc. In his restoration, work of the late 19th century. In the center more or less the center you've got the remains of a large. Doorway. And that we think was put in at the time of oliver cromwell, when he first converted, the building into barracks. And, built the internal, floors, which would have changed the character of the building completely. And at that time it also had dormer windows, added on, as well. And on the north side you have the, scottish, national war memorial. Which again started, life as a completely different building. It used to be a church. And that was in the 14th, century. It was then. Converted. Into. A, gun house munitions, house, with the floor put in it. After that it became a barrett building. And following on from that the barracks was adapted, by mr billings. Um. A quite well-known, architect, and became known as the buildings building. And then in the early 20th century. It was converted, by, robert lorimer. To be the scottish, national war memorial. What lorimer did there was a great bit of controversy, about that scheme. Um eventually, he decided, to use the shell, of the. Billings building the barracks. He stripped out the whole of the interior, and the roof. Added, various, bits of. Sculpture. And recesses, on the outside. And. Inserted, a classical. Scheme on the inside, so inside you've got a big open hall. With the various memorials. And. He employed. As he had on some of his previous jobs. Lots of the best artists and craftsmen, in scotland, to do the stonework, the metal work. The stained glass windows. And the other bits and pieces within the. Building. So we're now, in the great hall. Which is a magnificent. Space as you can see. Built up on vaults, to, level castle, rock which slopes off quite steeply. The building itself. Was completed, in about 1511. We know that because, the, roof timbers have been dated, to. To that time. But the rest of what you see in here, is all a recreation. Of the late 19th century. Again, by the architect. Hippolyte, blanc. So the floors. The timber paneling. The gallery. The fireplace. At the other end. The window openings, as you see them at the moment, and all the stained glass dates from. The late 19th, century. Whereas the roof, is largely. Of the early 16th, century 1511. Although the decoration. Of it and some, repairs. To the. Structure. Were completed, during the restoration, works, of, the late 19th century. As you can see this building, houses, a, significant, collection of arms and armor. And so we're responsible. For. Its upkeep, and. Conservation, in situ, here. And that gives us a number of challenges. Our collections, colleagues, are presently. In the middle of a project, to, go through the whole of this collection, here. To. Take it away, and conserve, it, and, redo. Some of the fixings, and mounts. Before they bring it back, the problem with the present ones is that there's, quite a lot of, metal work being used. And, got. Like bicycle, clip, type fixings. And cable ties. And various other metal clips which can do damage, to the artifacts, themselves. So, there are sorting, out some. More appropriate, mountings. Maintaining. Suitable, conditions, for the, collection, for the arms and armor which obviously contain lots of metal work and bits of leather. Is very important. And, controlling, the relative humidity. Within, a specified. Range, is the aim of the collections, team. And the relative humidity, is actually used to control, the heating, system. The problem with the heating system is although we have, updated. The, boiler and the boiler controls. And the building management, system. We're still relying, on what in effect, is a victorian. Method of delivering, heat which is these. Cast iron pipes which. Tail around the building, as you can see. There are two long runs. And they get quite hot they give out quite a lot of heat, but given the volume of the building. And the um, thermal mass of the, the floor and the structure.
And The aerial, infiltration. Through the. Roof which doesn't have any sucking, felt on it, um, you can imagine that, heat loss is enormous, and it's difficult, to actually. Maintain, static, conditions, steady conditions. This is made worse because, this building, is used for. Important, government events. They quite often have. Dinner parties, in here, at night. And, with speeches, etc, etc. And people expect, the sort of comfort conditions, they've got used to. And, maintaining, that with this kind of a heating system, is really really difficult, and sometimes, we have to boost that with. Electric, fan heaters, for a short period of time before the meeting. And that is obviously not good from the point of view of the. Timber paneling, or the collection. And it's certainly not good from. Energy consumption, point of view. This is monsmeg. On its timber carriage, and you may remember when we came through the gate house we looked at the, panel carved stone panels. At high level in the archway. The gun was forged, in mons, in, 1449. And presented. To james ii, by the, duke of burgundy. Came over here in 1457. And apart from a short period when it was taken down to the tower of london. Has been on this site since then. It came back because of big fuss been made by, walter scott and various, others in the 19th, century to, bring it back to. Edinburgh, castle. This particular, carriage was built in, 1936. Based on, the um, the representation. That we saw and various other, documentary. Evidence. And, was, made from two very large, bulks of oak. And we recently did some conservation, work on this and repaired, some internal, rot. Then it's come back on site since then. The, calendar itself, for the gun, is looked after by our collections, colleagues and carefully monitored, by them. And regularly. Inspected. And. Repainted. To reduce, any. Damage, through, weathering, rust etc. It's made up of, iron hoops and staves, has a series of staves, inside, it, and then iron hoops around it, like a barrel which is why it's called the gun barrel. But it's a, magnificent. Piece of equipment. But, quite an interesting, challenge, to. Move around, and lift. When you have to do any maintenance, work to. It. We looked at the, heating within the great hall. The remember the cast iron pipe snaking, all the way around the. Building. We're now below the great hall, in late 15th, century, vaults which were built to, give a platform. For, great hall to be, built on. And you can see here this is the, main boiler room which. Services, provides, heat to the great hall. Originally, this was in coal fired, and we'll have a look at the coal hole in a minute. But subsequent, to that was changed, to. Gas. Heating. And recently, since, 2011. We've. Spent quite a lot of time and effort. Our m e team, and, others, on, updating. All the. Equipment, so we've got modern gas boilers. Variable, speed pumps. A building management, system. And various other controls, which allow us to. Optimize. As far as we can. Our energy consumption. And the conditions, which we, can provide in the buildings. But as you can see doing anything, like this, in this kind of setting. Is problematic. Luckily, here we already, had, a chimney flue which we could use, for. The main flu from these boilers. To take that away otherwise that would have been a real issue. Obviously, going forward. There's going to be a problem with. Energy, saving. Targets. And what fuel we use. As i said we started. Doing this work in 2011. Not only in this building on site but in the other buildings, as well. And not only to do with heating, but also to do with all energy consumption.
That Is. Cooking. Lighting. Etc. And we've managed, over the years, since then to reduce, the, castle's, energy consumption, by about. 30 percent. Um, by all these measure, measures. Including, what fabric insulation, we can do as well, so follow me into the back and i'll show you what the old coal hole was like. In here you can see. Within the old vault. Um, crown square is up there and this is actually a shoot down from crown square. Which is where the coal used to be tipped in so this was the coal store for when they were. They used solid fuel boilers. And. Down at low level here you can see, the bedrock, castle rock actually protruding. Through. Which gives an idea, of. The, kind of. Leveling. That they had to do to actually, achieve a surface above and a platform, for, building the great hall. So we're going to go from, here walking, along, what's called the, devil's elbow. Along the passageway, at the back of the the south side of the great hall. And. Down, onto. Jury's, battery. And then around. Past the western defenses. And we'll have a look at the new barracks. From there. The new barracks we saw, next to governor's, house, and you'll see what a huge building it is from, from that side. So we've walked along the wall walk, outside, the just below the great hall from the boiler room come down the stair there, and across, what's called jury's, battery, you can also see from here. As we're heading, down, towards the, new barracks. How the castle, relates to castle rock. Perched on the edge and you can imagine, what the problems, are with doing conservation, work there it gets very expensive, arranging. Safe scaffold, access, etc. The little projection, on the end there is, one of the latrines. Before. Plummed, services, came into the castle. During the, 19th late 19th century. Um, castle rock was. The. Way for all the effluent. Down to the areas below which was. Not very salubrious, as you can imagine, at times. Castle rock itself you can see here, it's a basil, volcanic, basalt. And the. Kind of, fracture planes, in it slope, in various, directions, depending where you are around the site. And this is one of the worst as you can see, the slopes go down. Down slope towards the road below. And this is one of the areas, where. Historically, there have been significant. Falls, of rock. So, we have to take measures to reduce the risk of this. And we have, geotechnical. Engineers. Who produce reports, for us and do regular, condition, surveys. And part of the, mitigation, work that we've done more recently. Is to add a, rock trap down the bottom by moving the boundary wall, out. By negotiation. With the council we took part of that road johnson terrace road, moved the existing, wall out. And put a rock trap in which catches, the majority, of the debris coming from this side. So we've walked down from, jury's battery. And we're now standing, on the, southwest, corner of the new barracks, the new barracks. You may remember we saw the front elevation, of this building. When we were walking up through middle ward towards, food's gate. And what you saw from there. Was in effect half of the height of the building. Here you can appreciate. Its true magnificence. A huge, building, at the time, it was called the vulgar, cotton mill by walter scott. And it has a huge impact, on, this part of the site. Was built to house a field battalion, of 600, men. And. It had, very few ablutions, in when it was built so all those facilities. Were external, to the building they were only subsequently. Added. The veranda, that you see here, was added on 100 years later. In about, 1893. When the building was used as a hospital. And we think that was so they could. Get patients, out, give them some fresh air. Although this being the southwest, elevation, i think they probably got rather too much fresh air, and we don't think that the. Glazed roof on this would have lasted, terribly long.
The Building is a major. Imposition, on, on this side. But is one of the buildings, on the site which is um, still occupied, by the army. Um. The army are one of um, several other, um third parties, on the site, which include the national museums, of scotland. The scottish national war memorial. And, the. Site caterers. But we do have an energy focus group which runs every few months. Which gets all the occupants of the castle together. And we all try and pull in the same direction, to reduce the energy bill of the site as a whole. We're coming to, the end of our little, prerambulation. Around edinburgh castle which i hope you've enjoyed. We're now standing, at the. North west corner. Above what's called the western defenses. Which were. Instituted, by general wade. Um, during the. Jacobite, risings, in the 18th century. And you can appreciate, from here. How steep castle rock is on this corner. And you can also appreciate, how close it is to the. Main railway line. Which is a, hazard obviously which has to be guarded against, which is why. This particular, area of castle rock is one of the few which has actually got. Netting on it to protect from rock falls. It's a very busy line. You get a very good view, of. The west of edinburgh from here, and on a good day you can even see the fourth bridge, just peeking up over the top there together with the two road bridges, the newer and the older. So that's the end of our virtual, tour. I hope you've all enjoyed, it, sorry you couldn't be here in person. But i'm sure in future. You'll turn up if you're anywhere near edinburgh, castle, we hope you do. We hope found it interesting, i've only just scratched the surface really of what's. Available, to see, and of the history and archaeology. Of the place. But as i say, i hope you found it interesting. And, we look forward to seeing you at some time. Hopefully in the very near. Future. You.