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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

5th Meeting of the 184th Session (2004-2005)

Decay and Repair of Sandstone in the Edinburgh World Heritage Site:
The need for improved decision-making in the selection of stone

Dr Ewan Hyslop
British Geological Survey, Edinburgh

In the Wolfson Suite, Ground Floor
Edinburgh University Library
George Square, Edinburgh
On Monday 21st March 2005, at 7 pm

The New Town of Edinburgh, acknowledged as one of the foremost examples of urban design in Europe, was constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries using local sandstone from quarries in and around the city. Today the building stone industry in Scotland is very limited, and almost all the stone currently used in the city for both repair and new-build is obtained from the north of England. Until now there has been little attempt to document the effect of introducing these replacement sandstones, or assess their compatibility with the original stone.

A recent study into the performance of replacement sandstone dating back over 35 years of grant-aided stone repairs indicates that there are marked differences between the original and replacement stone types. These differences have an effect on the visual appearance of repairs, but more importantly may cause differential weathering resulting in accelerated decay of the historic masonry.

Scotland is known as a 'nation of stone' and is renowned for its historic stone buildings. Much of this built heritage of now at an age where there is serious concern over its condition. For example in January 2005 there were over 80 reported 'falls' of stone masonry in Edinburgh, the highest monthly figure yet recorded. Improved decision-making in the future selection of replacement stone, combined with a drive to reopen historic quarries, is essential to safeguard the valuable built heritage over the long term.

Location of meeting

Society Business

The President, Dr Stuart Monro, will be in the Chair

Members of the Public are welcome to attend

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary

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